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Should Bathroom Doors Open In or Out?

Should Bathroom Doors Open In or Out?

Have you ever noticed that the doors in different rooms seem to swing in different directions? If so, you may have wondered if certain rooms should open in certain directions. In particular, should bathroom doors open in or out?

Most contractors and home builders follow an unwritten rule that bathroom doors should swing inwards in both commercial and residential buildings. This design maximizes privacy, safety, and odor control while also ensuring that hallways are not blocked.

Pay attention the next time that you’re out, and you may notice that bathroom doors in both homes and commercial buildings swing inward. In fact, you have most likely never seen a bathroom door that swings outward!

You may be thinking of trying something different by adding a bathroom door to your home that swings outward instead of inward. However, it is best to double-check before making such a change!

Should Bathroom Doors Open In or Out?

You most likely opened this guide because you were curious about the correct swing direction of bathroom doors. Now, you know that a bathroom door should always swing inward!

While it’s not written into the building code per se, it is a good measure for several reasons that I’ll be covering shortly.

In fact, you should not find any homes or businesses with bathroom doors that swing outward. This is why all commercial buildings instruct you to push instead of pull the door when entering the bathroom.

Finding a bathroom door that swings outward could indicate poor construction or a poor design choice!

Reasons Bathroom Doors Swing Inward

Why do all bathroom doors swing inward instead of outward?

It is understandable to wonder why you cannot or should not change the direction of the bathroom door.

When planning a design in such a high-traffic area, you should always consider the surrounding space before making a change to your home elements. What seems like a simple change to your bathroom door is a change that greatly impacts your space.

To better understand how your decision impacts your space, here are several reasons why bathroom doors should always swing inward.

1. Does Not Block The Hallway

A bathroom door that swings outward is going to block the hallway. If there are bedrooms on either side of the bathroom, this is an inconvenience for all household members.

Having a bathroom door that swings outward in a short or narrow space is also inconvenient and frustrating. If you open the door too hard or fast, the door may hit and damage the wall of the hallway.

2. Creates A Safer Home Environment

Bathroom doors also swing inward to avoid safety hazards for the occupant and those around them.

The lock and hinges are on the inside of the bathroom when the door swings inward. This way, anyone who is stuck inside the bathroom can pick the lock or take the door off the hinges.

A door that swings outward is also a safety hazard for those outside the bathroom. Imagine the door unexpectedly opening as you are walking down the hallway.

The occupant may accidentally hit you with the door and cause an injury.

3. Maximum Comfort and Privacy

Of course, you want maximum privacy when you are using the bathroom. The last thing you want is for someone to walk in while you are washing your hair or getting dressed.

Remember, the lock is on the inside of a bathroom door that swings inward. All you need to do for comfort and privacy is lock the bathroom door.

You do not have the benefit of locking a door that swings outward. In fact, you may find yourself accidentally locked inside the bathroom.

3. Provides Odor Control

There is nothing like an odor from the bathroom flowing through your home to put a damper on your environment.

Luckily, a bathroom door that swings inward provides odor control for your home!

A bathroom door that swings inward sucks the fresh air into the bathroom but also keeps the odor from flowing outside the bathroom.

The opposite happens with a bathroom door that swings outward instead of inward. By opening the door, you are sucking the odor into the hallway and surrounding space.

Disability Considerations

Although most disability laws like ADA and DDA do not specify the direction a door must swing, they do have other requirements to remember!

They do specify, however, that there must be sufficient space for a wheelchair to maneuver both inside and outside of the restroom, and the door should not obstruct this space.

In the U.S., for example, the ADA guidelines for restrooms state that if the restroom door swings into the restroom, it should not swing into the clear floor space required for any fixture (like a sink or toilet).

If a door swings into the required turning space (the space needed for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn), the door can only do so in very specific circumstances.

These circumstances include:

  • A private building or facility that is not a shopping center
  • A shopping mall
  • The professional office of a healthcare provider
  • A terminal, depot, or other station used for specified public transportation
  • An airport passenger terminal

While the direction of door swing is not explicitly regulated, the implication of these and other regulations is that many restroom doors swing outward to maximize the clear floor space inside the restroom and to make it easier for a person in a wheelchair to exit.

In a confined space, an inward-swinging door can be difficult to navigate for someone using a wheelchair or other mobility aid.

Alternatives To “Swinging” Bathroom Doors

You do not have to stick to a bathroom door that swings inward if you want to stand out, but you should still avoid a bathroom door that swings outward. One idea is to skip the swinging door altogether.

If you want to change your space, here are several alternatives to a swinging bathroom door.

pocket door

#1 Pocket Door

There are many homeowners who use pocket doors for their closets, bedroom, or dining room.

Adding a pocket door to your bathroom is possible, but you need to build an alcove into the wall for the door.

A pocket door slides open and closed to make accessing and ventilating the bathroom a breeze. It also adds visual appeal to your home.

sliding barn door

#2 Barn Door

A barn door is another alternative that opens and closes using a sliding mechanism, so this door is another great choice for accessing and ventilating the bathroom.

In addition, a barn door is perfect for adding a rustic, farmhouse, or country charm to your home.

You can choose from several colors and finishes for your door.

shoji door

#3 Shoji Door

If you are looking for a unique style for your bathroom door, look no further than a Shoji door. You can open and close this door using the sliding mechanism on pocket and barn doors.

A Shoji door features a wooden frame with window-style hard fiber rice paper compartments. Puncturing the hard fiber rice paper is difficult, but you still want to be careful with this door.

Are you looking to change up the vibe in your home? Shoji doors are perfect for adding a traditional Eastern look to your bathroom.

Why You Should Double-Check The Bathroom Door Swing Direction

Why should you double-check the swing direction of the bathroom door in your own home?

After all, you should be able to decide which direction your bathroom door swings!

While you can decide which direction your bathroom door swings, there are disadvantages to a bathroom door that swings outward.

Of course, you may still be wondering why you must research a topic that is your decision.

The following are several reasons to double-check the proper direction of your bathroom door before jumping into your home project.

1. Planning A Home Remodel

A remodel is a way to start fresh in your home, so it is understandable to want to make a few changes to your space during your remodel.

However, you do not want to change the bathroom door without finding the proper swing direction.

2. Building A Custom Home

If you are building a home, you have the opportunity to add custom features and elements to your space.

Therefore, you may want to create a space that stands out from the crowd. One example is changing the direction of the bathroom door.

The swing direction of your bathroom door is a change that should be researched before you start designing your home layout.

3. Double-Checking an Existing Design

It is okay to buy a home that is a fixer-upper. A fixer-upper is usually affordable and can be remodeled to meet your needs.

However, you want to ensure the contractors have put effort into building a proper home.

A bathroom door that swings outward is a sign your home was not built with your convenience and safety in mind.

If the bathroom doors in your new home swing outward, you have to wonder how many other elements have been installed or built incorrectly.

Bathroom Doors Always Swing Inward

By now, you know that bathroom doors always swing inward. This applies to both homes and commercial buildings.

There are many reasons why bathroom doors always swing inward, especially in homes.

It creates a safer, more convenient environment because the doors are not blocking the hallway. In addition, bathroom doors that swing inward provide maximum privacy and odor control.

Whether you are remodeling, renovating, or building your home, ensuring all doors always swing inward is important.

Tamara Gunter

Saturday 11th of November 2023

Actually our latest remodel is intentionally designed to swing outward into the bedrooms they attach to. Reasons ? The bathroom is in a one bedroom, compact design, containing the tub, with the toilet,vanity, stackable W/D and the interior furnace unit (the other half is outside) down a long wall.

A second door on the other end of this long narrow bathroom, comes off a short hallway to allow access/egress for guests who would not enter the main bed room. Essentially a jack and jill and master bath combo decision,as in the post C-19 era, we rarely have anything other than close friends in our homes, and this is only a one bedroom-one tech room home. Pocket or barn doors ar honestly not popular with our clients for bathrooms.

Thus an outswing 3.0 door opens into the 18x14 bedroom, flush backward to a short wall as we can steal that space and still have the bathroom feel larger. the larger door also allows people with walkers of canes easier access. Sometimes, design is exactly why a door will swing in the "not common" way.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.