Door Swing Tutorial

By Brian Rhodes, Published Jul 24, 2018, 12:44pm EDT

The direction a door swings might seem minor, but it can greatly impact door hardware selection.

There are four basic ways a door can swing, and knowing how to properly determine it is critical when designing access control systems and ordering door hardware.

In this note, we lay out how to describe doors based on this subtle but divisive characteristic.

Door Swing Defined

Openings are configured to have doors swing in four separate ways:

  • Right Hand
  • Left Hand
  • Right Hand Reverse
  • Left Hand Reverse

The differences in these types are best described with diagrams. The images below show all four types:

 

How To Find Door Swing

You can describe any door using this standard by following these steps:

  • Stand Outside the door, on the locked or public side.
  • Check which side the door hinges are located. This direction, left or right, describes the direction.
  • Next check to see if the door swings in (away from you) or out (towards you). If the door swings out, it is a 'reverse' type.

Describing doors in this manner is standard in architecture and is the same nomenclature used by engineers, specifiers, and access control.

We show this in action in this short video:

Why Swing Matters

******** ******** **** ***** is ******** **** ******** and ********** **** ********, like ******** *****, *** access ******* ********** **** maglocks. ********* **** ******* result ** ***** ***** on *** ***** **** of *** ****, ***** handles **** *** ****** down/ ***** ** *** wrong *********, ** ******** ***** installed ** *** '***** side' ** *** ****.

Maglock *************

**** ***** ***** * *** role ** ******** ********. Take *** ******* ****** below:

*** **** ***** ***** a ******* ****** **** that ****** ***. ***** doors ********* **** **** devices *** ***** *** towards *** ********* **** so **** ******** ****** ****** to ******** * ******** do *** **** ** swing *** **** ******* them ** **** **. If *** **** *** not ***** ***, ****** could *********** ** ******* against ** ****** ** escape.

*** ***** ***** ***** an inswinging ****. *** ******* magnet ****** ** ******* on *** *****, ******* it ***** **** ** be ******* ** ** exposed ****** ** *** outside ** *** ****:

** ******* **** *****, maglocks **** ** ******* with ********** ********, ********* called "*" ** "*" brackets. *** **** ****** of *********** ** ***** brackets *** ****** ** to **** *** ***** direction, *** ************* ******** them **** * *** estimate *** **** ******** or ********* ** ********** hardware *** *****. 

 

Door **** *******

*** ***** ***** ************* affected ** **** ******** direction ** *** '*******' of * **** ****. This ******* ***** ********* the ***** ****** **** travel (** ***** ********* the **** *******) ** unlock *** ****.

 

** ***** ** **** code, *** **** **** open **** *** ****** is ****** ****, *** not *** ******** ******** the ***** ** *** handle ** ****** ** either *********. *** ***** below ******** *** **********:

**** **** *****, ********* standalone ********** ****** ******* locks, *** '***** ********', ***** means **** *** ** configured ** *** ******* to **** ** *** type ** *******. *******, this ******* ***** ****, usually ** ** ** minutes *** **** *******, and **** *** ****** of **** ***** **** process *** *** ***** of ********** ***** ** a ***. ************* **** **** door ***** *** ****** for *** **** *****, and ******** ********* ** the ****** ******* ** valuable **** **** ***** is ***** ****** ******.

[****: **** ******** *** originally ********* ** **** but *** ************* ******* in ****.]

Comments (18)

Describing doors in this manner is standard in architecture and is the same nomenclature used by engineers, specifiers, and access control.

There is (another?) standard used when buying a pre-hung door, which can be mounted either as inswinging or outswinging, which shows the side on which the hinges are mounted. I believe that is the standard you show above in your picture of inswinging doors, which are typically used on front doors of houses.

You do describe very well the implication of door handedness for entry doors, electronic access systems and locks. Thank you.

The pre-hung door unit may be 'field configurable' in some way, but once it is hung, it falls to one of the above types.

Whether the hinges are mounted in or out is an important variable, but one that isn't described by door swing type. You'll find exposed hinge pins, butt hinges, flush hinges, pocket/Continuous/geared hinges, piano hinges, and 20 other hinge types can be used that impact how exposed the hinge pins and action might be.

Maybe we should do a 'Door Hinges Tutorial' next!  (Mostly kidding.)  :)

Whether the hinges are mounted in or out is an important variable, but one that isn't described by door swing type.

                      ....

Maybe we should do a 'Door Hinges Tutorial' next!

My point is that whether a door is inswinging or outswinging, a right-hand door always has the hinges on the same side. So, I would reverse the "left hand door" and "right hand door" labels of the doors in your picture of outswinging doors above.

 So, I would reverse the "left hand door" and "right hand door" labels of the doors in your picture of outswinging doors above.

No, because that aspect is addressed by whether or not the action is 'reverse' or not.

Understanding the description is always taken from the point-of-view from outside/unsecured side of the door.

Understanding the description is always taken from the point-of-view from outside/unsecured side of the door.

But when you buy a pre-hung door the only choices you have are a right-hand door or a left-hand door.

U1 comes outswinging!

I’m afraid to ask what the numerically equivalent pun score would be :)

I stand (sit, actually) corrected. Thank you.

I was always taught that you place your back up against the hinge side jamb, whichever way the door swings is the "hand" of the door. So if it swings toward your right side, it is a right hand door.

This is not correct.  Here is how to establish door swing:

How To Find Door Swing

You can describe any door using this standard by following these steps:

  • Stand Outside the door, on the locked or public side.
  • Check which side the door hinges are located. This direction, left or right, describes the direction.
  • Next check to see if the door swings in (away from you) or out (towards you). If the door swings out, it is a 'reverse' type.

Also, but important, Lock handing is different than door swing.  We cover that above.

  • Next check to see if the door swings in (away from you) or out (towards you). If the door swings out, it is a 'reverse' type.

Maybe it’s better to refer to doors as:

right hand/inswing or right hand/outswing 

instead of 

right hand or right hand reverse

Because it’s unclear when someone only says “right hand” or "left hand” whether they are referring only to handing or swing as well.

Makes sense to me now. I was taught when I sold doors at a big box hardware store. Now I can review door hardware specifications with a little more knowledge.

As a hardware dealer/installer/integrator, there is a common misconception to folks not used to the commercial hardware vs residential hardware. 

 

The door has it's swing as shown in the article

 

But, did you know commercial hardware is handed? And it doesn't necessarily have the same handing as the door swing.

 

If you're ordering door hardware from an electronics distributor, you might get the right item...But a knowledgeable door hardware distributor is worth it's weight in gold if you don't want to RTFM before ordering.

 

I'll never forget having to explain the difference in finishes to a poor ADI counter guy. (Oil rubbed bronze is NOT the same as Venetian bronze)

 

A wonderful resource for dipping your toes in the water is Allegion's idighardware.com

Another point to consider for the commentators is that the world of commercial doors and hardware has nothing to do with residential doors and hardware.

Every single point of contact between the door hardware and the door and frame is specified when ordering commercial hardware. 

Sage advice UI#2. You can always spot the new guy when the extra hardware that did not work starts piling up in the office.

I really enjoy door hardware, but some days I get frustrated at our industry. We recently worked on a job where the carpenters and door supplier managed to get the mortise lock prep wrong on 900 doors. I felt bad when I pointed out that the prep for the key cylinder is specific to the handing of the door. I think they ended up fabricating cover plates for the interior side of the doors.

 

U3 - that is the true measure of a door hardware guy...how many half opened boxes does he have in his shop? 

I know I've messed up install/order too many times to count. Any more, I never assume anything. I make my guys go through the entire part number. And, many times, we catch something. Could be as simple as a 2 3/4 strike instead of 4 7/8, but it sure saves time in the long run!

 

btw I think it's really cool to see IPVM covering door hardware...it's kind of a niche industry.

U3 - that is the true measure of a door hardware guy...how many half opened boxes does he have in his shop?

As an optimist, I see the box as half closed ;)

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