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Doors. Simple right? Well...

As simple as doors and hardware might seem to be, they can be tricky and require a little bit more thought and planning than you might think.


As a superintendent, one of the first things I checked with a new set of drawings is the door schedule and hardware schedule. Will the doors specified actually work as shown on the floor plan? Do the door sizes and type make sense for the space and use? Will the specified hardware work on the intended door?


There are a million little details to check and re-check when it comes to doors and hardware, and even more so if the are new doors going into existing jambs.


Over the years I have made almost every possible mistake when it comes to doors. Door handing (which way it opens) can be more complicated than you might think. How do you determine if a door is a "right hand" or "left hand"? I actually missed this question on a practice exam for my contractor's license!


I was furious because this is not set in stone! I'm looking at the door into my office, I am "inside" my office and the hinges are on the right (I can see them). So, logically this is a "right hand" door right? Nope. Since I am on the "pull" side of the door and the hinges are on the right, it is a "left hand" door. In general, you can derive handing by this drawing:



As a young carpenter I was told to stand in the doorway with "my butt on the butts (hinges)" and then use my right or left arm to motion the swinging of the door.



Kinda like this, kinda.

Butt on the butts, right arm swinging, right hand door.

This trick doesn't work for an out-swing door, like an exit door from a building. In that case it would be a left hand reverse door. This has more to do with how the hardware is installed. Code requires that outside doors open towards the outside in case of a fire.



You don't want a group of panicky people jamming up against an exit door trying to pull it in.




On this type of door the hinges are mounted outside so they use security hinges at don't allow you to just pull out the hinge pins and remove the door. But now, my "butt on the butts" trick doesn't work. Sigh...