Doors enhance home security and the privacy of family members. We are so accustomed to them that we only stop and think about the way they open or close when renovating the home or rearranging the furniture. A quick glance at door models shows that inswing doors – that open towards the entryway or room – dominate the residential market. However, space constraints or a new piece of furniture can sometimes make an outswing design preferable. If you don’t want to buy new doors, you might want to learn how to change the door from inswing to outswing. This guide will teach you all you need to know about it.
How To Change Door From Inswing To Outswing
While changing the swing direction of a door might seem easy, the structural changes in the door frame could make it tricky to switch an inswing front door to an outswing. However, changing an interior door from inswing to outswing is fairly easy. Here’s how to do it.
Things You Will Need:
- Power drill/driver
- Flathead screwdriver bit
- New hinges
- Door latch strike plate
- Wood putty
- Putty knife
1. Remove The Door
The first thing to do when you want to switch an inswing door to outswing is to remove the door slab and old hinges from the door frame.
There are two types of interior door hinges: removable pin and non-removable pin.
The former consists of two separate parts and a pin. The bottom half of the hinge is fixed to the door frame, while the upper half is attached to the door slab. To install the door, you have to place the top half of the hinge on the bottom half and slip a pin through both parts to secure the door in place.
A variation of this hinge has the pin incorporated into the bottom half (that goes on the door frame) and a recess into the upper half (fixed to the door slab).
This system makes the door very easy to take off. Simply remove the pins from the bottom and top hinge, then remove the door slab (or slide the door slab up to unlatch it).
Non-removable pin hinges consist of two metal plates with screw holes that are attached to one another. The halves pivot around a pin that you can’t remove; one plate is screwed to the door slab and the other to the door frame. To remove the door, unfasten the screws securing the hinge to the door frame.
2. Mark New Hinge And Strike Plate Locations
To reverse the inswing of a door, you have to move the hinges to the outer side of the door frame. Use a ruler or tape measure and a pencil to draw a straight line from the top of the hinge to the other side of the frame.
Draw another line from the bottom of the hinge to the other side of the frame and repeat for the other hinge (or hinges, if your door has three).
Do the same to mark the strike plate position on the outer side of the door jamb.
3. Cut The Hinge And Strike Plate Recesses
For a proper installation of the door slab, the hinges must be flush with the rest of the jamb and the side of the door. This means that you have to cut out recesses both in the door frame and the side of the door if the new hinges are larger than the old ones.
Use the guidelines you drew earlier to cut the hinge and strike plate recesses into the door jamb.
Measure the hinge size compared to the recess on the side of the door and see if you have to enlarge it. If the new hinge is smaller than the old one, fill the entire area with wood putty or filler, let it dry, then cut out new recesses.
You should also fill the old screw holes on the side of the door with wood filler so that the new screws can grip the material when installing the new hinges.
4. Install The Hinges and Door
Install the hinges on the door jamb, screwing them in place. Do the same with the strike plate.
If you opted for removable pin hinges, install the hinges on the door slab, then slip the door in place and secure it with the pins. If you used non-removable pin hinges instead, ask two helpers to keep the door slab firm in position while fastening it onto the hinges.
5. Repair The Old Hinge And Strike Plate Recesses
Now that you switched the door swing, it is time to get rid of the old hinge and strike plate recesses on the door jamb.
Prepare the wood putty or filler as specified on the product package. Fill the old holes and recesses with the paste (use a putty knife for the purpose) and let it dry as instructed.
Once the filler has hardened, smooth out the surface with sandpaper and apply a fresh coat of paint.
How To Change Exterior Door From Inswing To Outswing?
Most residential exterior doors have an inswing design. However, if your entryway is small, you might want to change the travel direction.
Whether or not you can do that depends on the type of door you have.
If the door is made of wood or resin, you can follow the same steps above to change it from inswing to outswing. Keep in mind that the hinges will be located on the outside of your home if you decide to change the opening direction, so you should use non-removable pin hinges to prevent burglars from slipping the door slab off.
Metal front doors generally have metal frames with built-in hinges. Unfortunately, you can’t change the opening direction of these doors, and your only option is to replace the door and its frame.
Know that outswing front doors have different frame sizes compared to inswing models. Thus, you might also have to change the rough opening dimensions (generally by narrowing them).
How To Change Inswing French Doors To Outswing?
French doors typically come with door panels built specifically to inswing or outswing. A way to change the opening direction is to install the door backward. However, replacing your inswing French doors with outswing ones is the most practical solution.
Inswing vs. Outswing Doors: Pros & Cons
Both inswing and outswing doors come with pros and cons. The table below provides an overview of each door type.
Characteristic Inswing door Outswing door
Space requirements Adequate space to operate. At least 36 inches of landing, measured in the direction of travel.
Security Easier to force open with a kick. Pin hinges ensure easy access for criminals.
Safety Harder to open from the inside. Easier to open from the inside.
Weather protection Poor Good
Aesthetic value Good Poor
Regardless of the travel direction, all doors require adequate space to operate. However, inswing doors have fewer requirements compared to outswing models.
The building code doesn’t say how much space an inswing door needs. Thus, you can only open it enough to squeeze through if you want to place a piece of furniture behind the door.
Things are different for outswing doors. The building code states that exterior doors need at least 36 inches of landing. If you have a narrower porch or staircase landing, installing an outswing door means violating the code.
Some people believe that outswing front doors enhance home security, but that’s not always the case.
While old-style front doors made of wood or cheap resin are easy to kick open if they have an inswing design, modern metal doors are nearly impossible to kick open when they are locked. However, a set of hinges on the outer side of the door frame can tempt criminals.
Although non-removable pin hinges are more secure than those with a removable pin, burglars could still tear them off the frame and get into your house, especially if you live in a secluded area and you’re away.
Outswing doors gain points when it comes to safety. In case of an emergency, such as a leak of gas or fire, pushing open a door to get out of the room or house is easier than pulling it. Inswing doors could also block your escape in case of fire. However, inswing doors are easier to break down by rescue crews.
Outswing doors are also a better choice for a front door that opens directly outside. Whether or not you have an awning, an outswing door can block the wind and rain from getting into your home.
However, if you’re more concerned about snow than wind and rain, opt for an inswing door. In this way, you can open the door even if snow has accumulated in front of it.
Inswing doors are so popular because they make the home feel welcoming. They have a higher aesthetic value compared to outswing doors.
How Much Does It Cost To Change Door Swing Direction?
If you plan to do all the work yourself, changing the door swing direction won’t cost you more than $80. Changing door swing direction costs can go up to $200 if you hire a contractor. These costs include the materials and labor.
Why are exterior doors inswing?
Most exterior doors are inswing because they are more welcoming, easier to break down by rescue crews, and won’t block you inside if you get snowed in.
Why are outswing doors more expensive?
Outswing doors are more expensive because of the low demand. Generally, they are custom-made and cost more.
Can a door swing into a garage?
Yes, a door can swing into a garage. However, you should check your local building codes before installing the door.
Which way should a bedroom door swing?
It is generally recommended to install all interior doors to open towards the room (inswing). This prevents the doors from becoming an obstruction in tight hallways.
Changing a door from inswing to outswing is easy for interior doors. However, if you want to change the travel direction of a French or exterior door, you should consider replacing the door and frame altogether. We hope this guide can help you complete the task successfully.