Whether you’re remodeling or building from the ground up, you’re going to have to put a door between your garage and your home. You may be looking at door options and wondering if you should install a door that swings into the home or out into the garage. What options do you have, and why might you choose one over the other?
A door connecting a garage to a home typically swings into the garage. This is because garage entry doors are generally considered exterior or exit doors, similar to a front door. There are a number of reasons why swing in doors are preferable for exterior doors, but they generally all hinge around safety and security.
Although swing in doors are standard when it comes to garage entry doors, most places don’t have regulations requiring one or the other. The choice is ultimately up to you. Understanding why swing in is the standard and where swing out may be more appropriate can help you choose which style to build into your home.
Why Most Garage Entry Doors Swing In
Garage entry doors are generally considered exterior doors. The garage is thought of as outside the house, even when it’s connected. Garages are often less secure, easier to break into, and more difficult to monitor than other areas of the home. For these reasons, the door to the garage is thought of similarly to any other exterior door.
Security from intruders, safety when exiting, and the ability to escape quickly are among the primary concerns when installing exterior doors. Let’s take a look at these and other reasons why you would install your garage entry door swinging in.
Security is the primary concern with exterior doors. The reason this affects which way the door swings is the placement of the hinges. The hinges will always be exposed on whichever side of the door swings in.
The reason why you don’t want your hinges exposed to the outside is that if an intruder were to attempt to gain entry to your home, you don’t want them to simply be able to pull the pins from the hinges and by pass the lock by removing the door. Keeping the hinges inside ensures that this isn’t an option for a would-be invader.
You might be tempted to think that an intruder isn’t going to attempt to get in through the garage since they’d have to break into the garage first. Again, garage entry doors are considered exterior for a reason. A garage is actually an ideal place for an intruder to force entry from. Garages generally have worse security overall than the home itself, and once inside, the intruder is completely covered from view and can work to force entry without concern for prying eyes from the street.
One area where you may run into building codes and regulations is if there’s a step down from the house into the garage. In this case, the door will have to swing into the home in order to be up to code. This is because it is unsafe to have a door swing out over a drop off. If you were to push into the door, you might have trouble slowing your momentum after realizing there was a step down.
It’s much safer to have the door swing so that you press against it as you go up. This way, even if you were to stumble as you pressed into the door, you would have the steps in front of you. Falling up stairs is much better than falling down them.
Because of this safety hazard, building codes require a landing of a certain size for doors to swing out onto. If you don’t have a sizeable landing and can’t build one in your garage, then you will have to have your garage entry door swing in to be in compliance with building codes.
Using an inswing door also has the benefit of making the door more weather resistant. A door that swings outward is not as protected on the edge of the door. This edge will become exposed over time to rain and snow, causing swelling, rusting, or rotting. Essentially if you expect the door to hold up against the elements, you want it to swing in.
This additional space also leaves room for a screen door or storm door. These doors normally do swing outward. This can help protect the door from buckling inward when faced with hurricane or tornado force winds.
Reasons You Might Consider a Swing Out
Although inward swinging doors are standard for the door between the house and garage, they aren’t universal. There are some reasons why people prefer outward swinging doors. Provided you’ve got the right space and are addressing certain factors, outwards swinging doors may be the best option for you.
You may have noticed that in most commercial or public buildings, the exterior doors nearly always swing outward rather than inward. You may wonder why this is the exact opposite of how things are typically done with residential applications.
The reason is that in an emergency where crowds of people can wind up surging together, outward swinging doors make it easier for people to escape. If the doors were to swing inward, then those at the front would have to push back against the crowd in order to get the doors open.
If you’re installing doors in a space where large numbers of people are gathering, you may need want to consider using outward swinging doors to ensure the possibility of a safe and orderly evacuation.
So, we already discussed security as a major reason for inswing doors, but there’s more to consider than just hinges. The weakness of inswing doors is that they’re much more vulnerable to being kicked in. Because the door naturally swings in, it offers less resistance to this type of attack.
But who cares about kicking in if they can just take off the hinges? Well, there are a few ways around that vulnerability. There are several different types of hinges that make tampering less possible. Security hinges make the pin more difficult to access and almost impossible to remove. Alternatively, hinges with a notch and hole keep the door in place, as long as it’s closed—even if the hinges are removed.
If you’re willing to spend a little more to secure your hinges, a swing-out door can be the strongest and most theft-resistant option.
If you’re like most of us, you wish you had just a little more space in your house. The reality is that you’re giving up valuable real estate to allow that door to swing in and out of your house. By allowing the door to swing outward, you can give that space to something else entirely—maybe a coatrack, a side table, or a shoe organizer. You can make use of the space in your home more efficiently with an outward swinging door.
When building a door between your home and your garage, you’re going to have to choose whether it swings out into the garage or into your home. Inward swinging doors are standard, just like another exterior door. There are several reasons for this, but safety and security are the chief concerns.
If you’ve got a safe landing immediately outside the door, you might consider an outward swinging door. These can save space in your home, be safer under certain circumstances, and can actually be more secure if the proper precautions are taken to secure the exposed hinges.
The choice is up to you. Be sure to read up on all local ordinances and building codes before you finalize your decision. Then, consider the needs of your family and your unique space. Get the door that’s right for you.