Hot Topics: Do We Need a Right Hand or Left Hand Door?

An interior white door swinging into a bedroom.

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Original Post: Right Hand or Left Hand Door?

jwob4 Member

I recently purchased an interior door from a building material company. After giving their rep the door measurements including hinge and handset cutouts, the rep asked via email: "Which way does door swing?" I replied, "If I'm looking at the door and the handset is on my right, it swings in."

The question: would you interpret this as being a left-hand or right-hand door? Thank you!

XSleeper Group Moderator

That’s a LH door.

This is the way I have always remembered it. Picture yourself on the side of the door where you can see the hinge pins, and close the door. Place yourself between the hinges and the door knob with your back against the door. If the hinges are on your left, it's LH. If they are on your right, it's RH.

That being said, not "all" suppliers use this same reasoning, so it's always wise to double-check. You will be the one to blame if it's wrong, not them.

joecaption Member

jwob4 Member

Thanks. The door arrived with the hinge cutouts on the wrong side (he ordered a LH door and I needed a RH door), and the rep is indeed saying it is my fault. He said the 'industry standard' question is, "Which way does the door swing into the room?" He just neglected to add "into the room" in his question posed to me.

XSleeper Group Moderator

I can see why there is confusion. You just described a LH door. He ordered you a LH door. But now you are saying you need a RH door.

This quote from the Family Handyman link is a true statement:

"However, the clerk taking the order may still get confused, especially if you’re ordering over the phone. It’s best to order your doors in person. Then you can draw a picture, as if looking from above, and sketch in the door hinge and swing direction. This avoids the terminology confusion and unpleasant confrontations if the order goes in wrong."

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

The method shown in the link is the way we asked customers what they needed. Some of them couldn't understand the line drawings. The funniest thing was when they would stop and think, and then do a 180 like they were standing in their house and orienting themselves to the compass.

I agree that the description given would be taken as a LH door. I think your intended meaning was "It swings in TOWARDS ME" (RH door) as opposed to "It swings OUT, AWAY FROM ME" (LH door). Just saying "it swings in" is a bit ambiguous.

That said, he's a poor salesperson if he didn't doubly clarify exactly what you needed.

XSleeper Group Moderator

I think Vic hit it on the nose. An inswinging door is one that you push away from you as you go in through the door.

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

I've always described it as follows:

Open the door and place your back to the hinge side of the door jamb. If it swings to the right hand side it is a RH door. If it swings to your left hand side it is a LH door. When dealing with exterior doors, the added portion is if it is and In Swing or Out Swing door.

jwob4 Member

A big THANK YOU to everyone who very knowledgeably responded to my question. You told me exactly what I was looking for. Ultimately, it's my bad for not being thorough and clear enough. If I had just said "it swings in TOWARDS ME" instead of just "it swings in," there likely would have been no problem. Yeah, he should have known this is a common confusion point for ordering doors and should have taken the time to clarify it himself, but life's too short to fight that battle. Instead, I took a hinge butt and chisel, re-did the cutouts from the other side, and hung the door. Now that I know it fits, I'll paint and once I do, I may be the only one who ever notices.

Thanks again and peace, all. Will definitely be using this site again (on to the sump pump section...).

rstripe Member

Late to the party, but note that although most residential exterior doors open IN, and the advice about putting your back to the hinges with the door open and extending left or right arm to the door works for inswing doors, one might be led to believe that if the door is OUTSWING (as in the case of storm doors and many commercial doors) the same advice would apply, but it does not. The industry standard used for determining handing for both inswing and outswing doors is:

Stand OUTSIDE (or the side that would be locked) and observe:

If opens IN to the RIGHT, it's a RH door

If opens IN to the LEFT, it's a LH door

If opens OUT to the RIGHT, it's a Right Hand Reverse door (RHR)

If opens OUT to the LEFT, it's a Left Hand Reverse door (LHR)

In cases where there's no locking function, like an interior hall door where there's no "inside" or "outside," a RH is the same as a LHR and a LH is the same as a RHR.

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