Door Swing Tutorial

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 24, 2018

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 ;)

Read this IPVM report for free.

This article is part of IPVM's 6,534 reports, 880 tests and is only available to members. To get a one-time preview of our work, enter your work email to access the full article.

Already a member? Login here | Join now

Related Reports

Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Aug 24, 2020
Doors vary greatly in how difficult and costly it is to add electronic access...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 25, 2020
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety...
Keypads For Access Control Tutorial on Jul 28, 2020
Keypad readers present huge risks to even the best access systems. If...
Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 17, 2020
One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored....
US GSA Explains NDAA 889 Part B Blacklisting on Jul 31, 2020
With the 'Blacklist Clause' going into effect August 13 that bans the US...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
The Insecure Verkada Access Control System on Jun 25, 2020
While Verkada touts the security of its system and that how their new door...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
HID Presents Mercury Security & Aero Access Controllers on Aug 25, 2020
HID presented Mercury Security & Aero Access Controllers at the 2020 IPVM...
Honeywell Warns of Huawei, Advocates Futureproofing on Aug 31, 2020
For years, Honeywell has profited from OEMing Dahua and using Huawei...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
Verkada Access Control Tested on Sep 09, 2020
Verkada raised $80 million earlier in 2020, expanding from video into access...
WDR Cheat Sheet and Camera Tracking - 30 Manufacturers on Aug 26, 2020
Manufacturers are regularly cryptic about what WDR support they actually...
Dahua Critical Cloud Vulnerabilities on May 12, 2020
Dahua has acknowledged a series of cloud vulnerabilities that researcher...

Recent Reports

OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...