responds: There are many reasons for having
in-swinging exterior doors on homes. First, let me
respond to your remarks.
1) When winds blows over the roof of a house, it
creates negative wind pressure on the lee side
(opposite the windward side). This negative
pressure is just as strong as the positive pressure
on the windward side.
2) A door that overhangs the sill would be
difficult to seal against air leakage. A properly
detailed door has a bulb weatherstrip at the bottom
resting on a projecting sill that slopes away from
the house. The only advantage of an outswinging
door (and it is a real advantage on occasion) is
that there is less sill surface exposed to the
3) Out-swinging doors with "panic hardware" are
required by commercial codes. But on homes and
small offices, most codes allow egress doors to
swing inward, because they have few occupants, most
of whom use the place often enough that they will
habitually expect the door to open in.
Here are a few additional reasons I tend
not to use outswinging doors:
1) An outswinging door must either be specially
finished at the top, or protected by a deep porch.
Otherwise, it will quickly deteriorate in the
2) Outswinging doors can be a hazard and a
maintenance problem. It is easy for the wind to rip
an outswinging door off its hinges. If the door
opens off a small porch or stoop, an outswinging
door could tip a visitor back down the front stair,
especially if the wind catches it.
3) In many climates, you need a screen door, so
you will have one door opening in and one opening
out. Since the screen door is designed to shed
water, is more transparent to the wind, and has
less impact if it should hit a visitor or slam
against the wall, it should be the one to open
4) In snowy climates, you can easily be trapped
in the house because you can’t open the
door against the snow or ice (it has happened to
me). I would consider an unprotected outswinging
door to be a lethal hazard in a snowy climate (the
same can be said for outswinging storm doors).
5) Finally, it is easier to pry open an
out-swinging door than an in-swinging one since
there is no stop protecting the lock. Also, since
the hingepins are on the outside, you can simply
knock out the pins and remove the door unless you
use special hinges with nonremovable pins.
Gordon Tully is an architect in Arlington,