Main Entrance Door Width

Started by kh, February 14, 2005, 03:39:45 PM

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I have been using 3D Home Architect Deluxe to model small house rooms and it clearly illustrate how much room a standard 36" entrance door occupies when the swing of the door is considered.

Is a 36" door required by code? I'd like to use a 32" or 34" door. I have also considered using an outswing door that opens into an enclosed porch; is this a reasonable solution?

Thanks, Ken H

John Raabe

Standard practice is that you need to have at least one min 3' door to the interior in habitable buildings. 2-6 for interior room doors and as little as 2-4 for a bathroom (non ADA).

Most exterior doors swing inward to weather protect an open door and so that guests do not have to step out of the way of a door swing (IE: more inviting). Swinging outward into an enclosed porch would be fine, especially something like a french door.
None of us are as smart as all of us.


Moving furniture--shower stall, tub, refrigerator, sofa-bed, piano anyone?--would be my reason for considering a nice wide door--with room on both sides to maneuver stuff.

I really hate moving things when I have less than a quarter of an inch leeway on each side.  No desire whatsoever to ever move a sofa bed again.

And I've often lived in houses with storm or screen doors--i.e., one door opened out, the other opened in.

Sasha Goldberg


Just to let you know, when we moved into our current house, the front door was the only door wide enough to get our refrigerator through.  I wouldn't skimp here unless you are planning another door that's 36" wide.


I've tentatively planned to use an outward swing for the main entrance of my home. We'll see, though.

I believe the main reason to consider an outward door swing is for protection against vandalism/break-ins, which could be a greater consideration in an area of rural homes, or especially vacation homes without full-time residents. (Vandals break into doors by pushing into the door, and they cannot push in if the door swings outward.)

However, given that the metal hardware (the door pins, or whatever you call them) would be on the outside, it would seem that a vandal could simply remove the door pins and break in. Apparently, this problem is solved by using non-removable pins and/or some other method, like hidden door pins, or something, that I'd have to research. And I don't know if the typical pre-hung door is sold with the assumption that it will swing inward, so perhaps you would have to do a special order rather than buy off-the-shelf. If anyone knows about the last two issues, I'd be all ears.

But my home will not have a full porch area, so John brings up an excellent point that snow/rain can get inside the home more easily. I hadn't thought of that! That's why I named myself as follows.
Lady Novice


Since my planned cabin will be unoccupied much of the time, I've also been thinking about security. To thwart attempts to kick in the door, I'm planning to make it impossible for anybody to get any kind of a run at it by not having a straight path to the door and including a few steps in the approach... i.e. to enter the cabin, you'd have to climb the steps to a small landing and then turn 90 degrees.



I had a security storm door in Nashville, installed by the previous owner.  Of course the bedrooms' windows were easily forceable, and the back door was a joke as far as security went (reach in the window next to it and unlock the door).  But I did like the front door.   A lot more dog-proof than the cheap storm door on the back.

This kind of thing (they will be available more or less locally):

They tend to have a continuous hinge from top to bottom, as well as a pretty fair deadbolt which really do make the out-swinging door more secure.  

And with a lot of them you can replace the glass with screen seasonally, if you choose.  The ones on this page seem to have three pieces, top, middle, and bottom.

But if you have the "have to be locked and unlocked by key inside and out," i.e., more secure version, you'd need to hang a key on a chain just out of arm reach from the door so that you could reach it, and unlock the door in an emergency.