While it may be customary for homes to use exterior doors that open inward, that isn’t the only option available. Current design trends now include residential front doors that open outward as well. However, do those doors comply with building codes?
Exploring Door Opening Options
While there are areas of the country that may vary, there is no universal building code that forbids the use of residential exterior doors that open outward. Because of hurricane-force winds, Florida communities are now seeing the concept of outward opening doors as an advantage. While it won’t hurt to check with your local building authorities, it’s likely outward-opening doors are allowed.
Outward-Opening Doors Offer Advantages
There are several distinct advantages of outward-opening doors homeowners may want to consider when installing a new door. While some homeowners may discard the concept out-of-hand, others are embracing the concept as a way to enhance their home’s appeal.
- Security is enhanced. A very high percentage of home invasions and burglaries begin with the intruder simply kicking in a door. That’s virtually impossible when the door swings outward. Windows may still offer a relatively easy way to access a property, but outward-opening doors will certainly deter many intruders.
- Weatherization is improved. When the wind howls, inward-opening doors tend to allow drafts to occur around exterior doors. When winds push against outward-opening doors, however, the weather seal functions better. Fewer drafts mean lower utility bills and increased comfort for residents.
- Increase useable interior space. When exterior doors swing outward, more interior space is freed for use. That’s especially important for smaller rooms with limited space for furnishings or traffic. If you’re working with an interior designer, discuss the option with the designer to see if the change to outward-opening doors would be beneficial.
Since every home is different, the decision should be based on your needs and the home’s construction. Just because inward-opening doors have been the standard for generations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an outward-opening door for your home.
Disadvantages of Outward-Opening Doors
Naysayers suggest there are disadvantages to outward-opening doors and, indeed, there are some issues that should be looked at. Before making any decision, it’s always a good idea to consider disadvantages as well as advantages.
- Snow can create problems. If you live in an area that commonly receives significant snows, it may be more difficult to open the door after a storm. That’s why providing some sort of weather protection for the area around the door will frequently be recommended. In most cases, even a relatively small overhand will reduce significant drifting.
- Homeowners can’t leave the door open for ventilation. Obviously, it would be impossible to use a storm door when an outward-opening door is installed. However, if there are not sufficient windows for ventilation, screens are now available that install toward the interior of the home to keep insects at bay.
- Burglars can pop unprotected hinges to gain access. This is certainly true, which is why the current crop of exterior doors designed to open outward includes protected hinges rather than the type of hinges used on typical doors that open inward.
No solution is absolutely perfect, which simply means homeowners are encouraged to explore the pros and cons of all options before making decisions.
If you’re installing a new exterior door, installing an outward-opening door is certainly an option to explore. Don’t let dated design demands impact your decision. An outward-opening door can offer many advantages and allow property owners to make a design statement.