Inswing vs. Outswing Exterior Doors

Not too many of us think deeply about the inswing or outswing of the exterior doors we pass through, but that’s because crossing these thresholds are designed to be a natural movement we don’t have to question. There is, however, a lot of thought that goes into the engineering of how a door swings and much can be attributed to tradition, geographical location, and code.

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How to Tell the Difference

You might not know the exact difference between an inswing exterior door and an outswing door. There’s an easy way to tell: by standing on the outside of the building and facing the exterior door as if you’re about to walk through it to the inside, ask yourself if the door would need to be pushed open or pulled open in order to pass through? If the door requires a push, then it’s an inswing exterior door. Pulling the door open to enter would make it an outswing door.


Building codes can dictate the swing of an exterior door. There are universal codes that remain consistent nationwide, but depending on the geographical location of the building, the code that determines the door’s swing can change.

For public buildings, contractors must review these building codes before installing exterior doors. International Building Code states that doors in commercial and public buildings must always swing outward. This is to ensure safety should an evacuation procedure need to occur. In areas prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, code advises the installation of inswing doors because it’s easier to push these doors open should occupants become trapped inside.

young lady at the front door


Barring any adverse climate conditions that could dictate differently, it’s common to see exterior doors installed with an inswing. It’s a matter of physics, for the most part. If an exterior door is mounted to swing outward, the wind could catch it upon its opening and force it the door to slam against the side of the building. Inward swinging exterior doors operate more smoothly on a windy or stormy day, protecting you while you enter through the threshold as well as the walls of the building. Additionally, in snow-prone areas, exterior doors are recommended to have an inswing, so the building’s occupants don’t become trapped in the case of heavy snow build-up.

However, the climate can be a deciding factor to an exterior door’s swing, making it the common practice in that particular area. Contractors and building designers have also favored the outswing exterior door, which does protect the interior of the building or home in heavy-weather climates better than inswing exterior doors. Outswing exterior doors tend to have better barriers with more reliable seals to keep tumultuous weather out.

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Security can be just as big of a deciding issue as climate when it comes to an exterior door. Outswing doors, because of their mounting, are more challenging to attempt to force open from the exterior. This makes outswing exterior doors ideal for property, building, and homeowners who are concerned about security.

Alternatively, inswing doors do have their hinges installed on the inside of the building or home, so you can rest assured that they won’t be torn off, damaged, or tampered with. However, unlike outswing exterior doors, inswing doors can be forced open a bit easier if faced with an intruder who knows how to get around them. Installing additional accessories like strike plates and deadbolts can help combat this on an inswing exterior door, that way you can avoid having to remount and install it.


Exterior doors shouldn’t be a workout to operate. Traditionally, doors either have a sweep gasket or a compression gasket. Outswing doors use this compression gasket, which makes for a nice, weather-resistant seal without the use of friction. An outswing door is easy to open. Inswing doors use a sweep gasket, which requires friction to make a full seal. Sometimes, this makes the door open more stiffly than that of an outswing door.

Outswing and inswing are essential to know if you want to install a screen on your exterior entry door. Adding a screen or a storm door won’t work if the exterior door swings outward. You’ll only want to install a storm door if you have an exterior door with an inswing instead, that way its movement won’t hinder that of the additional door.

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Being Mindful of the Swing

The swing of an exterior door can help or hinder the building it protects. Mainly, the biggest factor is climate, where heavy snows, strong winds, threats of hurricanes and tropical storms can decide if an exterior door swings inward or outward.

If you’re installing a new exterior door, ask your contractor if there’s any building code that requires it to swing inwardly or outwardly. Also, keep in mind that to install a screen or a storm door, your new exterior door will need to have an inward swing to accommodate it.

Are You in Need of an Exterior Door?

Now that you understand the differences between inswing and outswing exterior doors, the next step to take is to trust a reputable company that manufactures quality exterior doors. At Feldco Green Bay, we have great quality exterior doors and our installers are factory trained certified to ensure the installation is correctly done. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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