​What is the Difference Between Door Swing and Door Handing?

​What is the Difference Between Door Swing and Door Handing?

Posted by Amanda On 22nd Dec 2023

What is the Difference Between Door Swing and Door Handing?

Have you ever stood in front of a door and wondered if it was left-handed or right-handed? Most people don't think about doors in those terms. But if you've ever tried installing a door, you quickly learn the difference between door swing and door handing.

Door swing simply refers to whether the door opens inward or outward. Door handing refers to which side the door is hinged on and which direction it opens. As a homeowner, understanding the difference between these two terms will help ensure you buy the correct door for your needs.

What Is Door Swing?

Door swing refers to the direction a door opens - either inward (into the room) or outward (away from the room). An inswing door opens into the space, while an outswing door opens out of the space.

Choosing between an inswing or outswing door depends on your needs and preferences. Inswing doors are typically more energy efficient since they form a tighter seal when closed. However, they require more clearance space to open fully. Outswing doors are convenient since they don't require as much interior space to open, but they may not seal as tightly.

For exterior doors, outswing doors are often more secure since their hinges are inside the door frame, making them harder to remove. Inswing doors can also allow more airflow and light into a space. Consider how the door will be used and the amount of available space in the room to determine which way you want your door to swing.

Double swinging doors will swing in both directions and the hardware will self return them to center. 

The handing of a door refers to which side the hinges are placed on - either right-handed or left-handed. When facing the door from the outside, if the hinges are on the right, it's a right-hand door. If the hinges are on the left, it's a left-hand door. Door handing is important to consider, especially for exterior doors, to ensure the door opens properly and securely.

Door Swing vs. Door Handing: What's the Difference?

So you're in the market for new doors and wondering what's the difference between door swing and door handing? It can be confusing, but here's a quick explainer.

Door Swing:

The door swing refers to which direction your door opens. Do you want an inswing or outswing door?

  • An inswing door swings into the room or space. This is a popular choice for exterior doors since the door swings in and provides more security.
  • An outswing door swings out from the room. This can be a good option for small spaces since the door doesn't take up any interior space when opened. Outswing doors may require more clearance space outside the door though.

Door Handing

Door handing describes which side your door's hinges are on. A left- handed door has hinges on the left side, while a right-handed door has hinges on the right.

  • For exterior doors, you'll typically want a door with the same handing as the frame. So a left-handed door in a left-handed frame.
  • For interior doors, handing usually comes down to personal preference and what makes the most sense for the room layout and traffic flow.

Understanding Door Handling: Left or Right?

When choosing a door for your home, an important consideration is whether you want it to swing in or out. But equally important is determining whether it will be left-handed or right-handed. This refers to which side the hinges are on, and it impacts how the door will operate and interact with the frame.

Left-Handed vs Right-Handed

The door handing refers to which side the hinges are installed on. Left-handed doors have hinges on the left side, so the door swings open to the left. Right-handed doors have hinges on the right, swinging open to the right. When facing the door from inside the room, a left-handed door will have the hinges on the left and open left, while a right-handed door will have hinges on the right and open right.

For most residential doors, you'll want to match the handing to the direction of the swing and adjacent walls. So an inswing door in a doorway with a wall on the left would typically be left-handed, while a door in a doorway with a wall on the right would be right-handed. Outswing doors also usually match the handing to the direction of swing. The handing needs to allow the door to open fully without hitting adjacent walls.

Choosing the Right Swing and Handling for Your Space

Choosing between an inswing or outswing door comes down to how much space you have in your entryway and how the door will interact with the surrounding area. Ask yourself some questions to determine what will work best for your needs.

  1. Do you have enough clearance for the door to fully open? Inswing doors open into the interior space, so you'll need adequate floor area for the door to swing open without hitting any walls or furniture. Outswing doors open outward, so you'll need enough clearance for the door to open fully without obstructing walkways, steps, or outdoor areas.
  2. Will the door interfere with trim or casings? Inswing doors may bump up against baseboards or door casings, while outswing doors won't have this issue. However, outswing doors can be more prone to weather exposure which may lead to damage over time. Protecting the door with an overhang or awning can help prevent this.
  3. Do local building codes allow outswing doors? Some areas prohibit outswing doors or have restrictions on them due to emergency egress requirements or for safety. Check with your local building department to ensure compliance before installing an outswing door.
  4. What type of lockset do you want to use? Locksets and deadbolts for outswing doors typically require a keyed cylinder on both sides of the door. For inswing doors, you can use a standard keyed lockset.
  5. How much security do you need? Inswing doors may be slightly more secure since the hinges are inside the building. Outswing door hinges are exposed and more susceptible to tampering. Using hinges with security studs, pins or non-removable pins can help prevent removal of the door.

By evaluating your needs for space, design, codes and security, you can determine whether an inswing or outswing door is right for your situation. The most important factors are having enough room for the door to function properly and ensuring safe egress and access. With the right choice and proper installation, you'll have an entryway that both looks good and serves its purpose.

Types of Saloon Doors and Recommended Swing/Handing

When choosing saloon doors for your space, one of the most important decisions is which way you want them to swing - inswing or outswing. The swing, or handing, of the doors will depend on the layout and traffic flow of your room.

Inswing saloon doors, where the doors push into the room, are ideal if you have limited space on the outside of the doorway or in corridors and hallways. They don't require much clearance and the doors tuck in neatly when open. However, inswing doors can be awkward if you have furniture close to the doorway inside the room, as the doors will bump into anything directly in front of them when opened.

Outswing saloon doors, where the doors push out of the room, require more space outside the doorway but give a more open feel inside the room. They're perfect if you have furniture, displays or other items near the doorway within the room, as the doors swing out and away from them. However, outswing doors may obstruct traffic flow in narrow corridors or hallways outside the room when opened.

In the end, think about how the doors will function in your particular space. Measure any tight areas to ensure you have enough clearance for your selected swing. And consider a double-acting option, where the doors can swing in both directions, giving you flexibility in smaller spaces. With the right choice and installation, saloon doors can add character to your home while also being practical. Choosing between inswing or outswing doors comes down to how you balance aesthetics and functionality for your space.


So now you're an expert in the difference between door swing and door handing. You can confidently specify to your contractor or door supplier exactly what kind of door opening and operation you need for your home or business.

Whether you want doors that swing in or out, left-handed or right-handed, you've got the lingo and knowledge to make the right choice for your needs. And the next time you walk through a door, you'll do so with an appreciation for how deceptively complex these simple architectural features can be in order to work so seamlessly. Doors may seem ordinary, but as with so many things, there's more to them than meets the eye.