Right Hand vs. Left Hand Doors: When and Why to Use Them

You probably don’t think about your doors much, but they suddenly become the central point of frustration when they fail to function correctly or operate smoothly. Doors shouldn’t require much thought, but when they act up or become an irritating part of your home, you’ll be glad that you know a thing or two about how to fix them.

right hand vs. left hand doors

There are right hand doors and left hand doors, both of which just mean that the doors are hung differently where the door swing is (either on the right or left). You may believe this isn’t significant, but if something ever happens where you need to replace parts for your door, you’re going to need to know if your door is right hand or left hand.

Now, if you’re trying to determine which type of door your home is equipped with, use this simple method:

  • Standing with your back against the swinging door hinges, open your door. If the door swing is on your left and also inward, then you’ve got a left hand door.
  • If you do the same and the door swing is on your right and outward, then it’s a right hand door.

Why is this important, you may wonder? Well, as we discussed before, ordering door hardware, like mortise locks or a lever-styled door set, are going to depend on the swing of the door. For one thing, doors are expensive. You don’t want to replace your door and have it be the incorrect handing after it has already been fabricated. Take the time to get it right and you won’t be sorry you did.


Handing on Exterior Doors

Something you may have noticed about your exterior doors is that they typically swing inward, meaning they’re left hand doors. This is because if they swing outwardly, the manufacturer could void the warranty, and this is especially true if your exterior door is comprised of wood.

Manufacturers don’t want their fabricated doors to be left hanging open where damage could be dealt with easier than an inward swinging door. An outwardly installed exterior door could also be more exposed to the elements, and if it’s wood, it could become wet, retain that moisture, and warp.

Another reason for inward swinging or left hand doors is for security purposes. On inward doors, the hinges are tucked away inside of the house instead of being on full display on the outside. Having the hinges and hardware on the outside of your home’s exterior door can make it awfully tempting for a potential burglar to want to remove them and break into your home.

When thinking about safety and the common traffic patterns that occur in a standard home, it makes sense to consider the hand of the door. There’s a general rule of thumb for builders and designers to place doors throughout the interior of a home with a swing that opens into a room.

The door shouldn’t be opening up into a well-traveled path like a hallway or frequently occupied room, or else it could cause a shocking surprise to someone on the other side. The door could also injure an innocent passerby, too.

Garage entry doors present an interesting dilemma with handing, and people have different perspectives on it. For example, an entry door that connects the interior of the house with the garage may swing inward into the garage instead of the home for a variety of safety reasons.

Some argue that if an explosion or fire in the garage occurs, the outward swinging, or right hand door can function as a blocking mechanism to prevent any harm or damage to the interior of the home. This makes sense, but hopefully no one in the garage will be doing projects that can result in harm either.

Garage entry doors are usually guarded by the garage door itself, or possibly a secured, dead bolted man door, eliminating the immediate concern for security measures on the garage entry door into the house. It’s always important to know whether your garage door is right hand or left hand so you can prepare your home accordingly.

Avoiding Problems with Left Hand Doors

There are exceptions to the rule. For older people, slips and falls can be a serious concern, especially in the bathroom. If you’re a senior, getting in and out of the tub can form a puddle of water on the floor and it could quickly mean disaster.

There have been enough instances where older residents have fallen against a bathroom door and blocked access into the room, which can be detrimental when help is needed. In resolution to this problem for an older person, bathroom doors can be installed so that they open out into the hallway or a landing area of a home.

Exceptions can be made for smaller living spaces, too. Imagine having to accommodate for an inward swinging door into your already crammed family room. Unfortunately, residential codes demand that you have all interior doors. If you’re suffering from a serious lack of space, you can either opt to remove the door entirely or consider the pocket door.

The pocket door is the answer to a lot of tiny or cramped living problems. The pocket door also comes in handy for senior residents who may be prone to falling and injuring themselves because the door is easier to open up without worrying about the potential of it being blocked. These doors do not have handing because of their ability to slide back and forth instead of swing.

A common problem for homeowners subjected to awkwardly shaped living and common room areas is that the door will take up precious space if swung into the room like it’s supposed to. If installed the other way, the door is a safety threat to any poor person on the other side. Pocket doors can resolve this issue entirely, and now you don’t have to sacrifice furniture for the sake of a inward swinging door.

left and right hand doors

Know Your Handing to Complete Your Planning

Handing is overlooked because many people just believe that a door is a door, and if you purchase a new one, it should surely fit. How different could doors be and how hard could they be to install?

Now you know that it’s trickier than you may have originally thought. It’s all about your door’s handing, and after immersing yourself in the terminology, you’ll be an expert in figuring out which hand your door is.

You might be planning an outdoor patio and are in need of new exterior doors. Now you’ll know which way is better to have your door swing in terms of security and saving your new doors from potential damage.

Or, for new hardware, you won’t waste time and money getting the wrong equipment for a door that isn’t handed like yours. When the need arises to replace a door completely, knowing which handing to get won’t be a challenge for you to decipher.

Choose Feldco For Exterior Doors

Feldco is the best home improvement company in the Midwest when it comes to products such as windows, siding and doors. If you’re looking for a new exterior door, Feldco has you covered. From providing a free quote all the way to the installation process, they’re here to get the job done right the first time.

Feldco provides quality and energy efficient products at very competitive pricing. They also have trained professionals that will install the products for you. Get a free quote online now.

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