Hot Topics: Converting an Inswinging Door to an Outswinging Door

A hand grasping a doorknob on a white door.

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With an interior door to her garage butting against the clothes dryer, this DIYer needs to create more space for her appliance. Is changing the swing of the door a viable option? The forum weighs in.

Original Post: Exterior garage

Heather Voss Member

Our dryer recently broke. In the process of fixing it, I discovered that any new dryer of the same "type" is deeper, by 1.5." Not a big deal, but the door from my garage barely clears the current dryer. This leaves few options when the dryer needs replacement. One is to try to reroute duct work (a nasty vertical duct) and move the wall for more space. The other option, more reasonable in my mind, is to adapt the door so it opens out into the garage rather than into the house. I would like to try to do this with the same door as every single door in the house is "matchy matchy" and it is 20 years old, so it's hard to find another like it. Right now it is left inward and we want it to be left outward. I am trying to figure out just what we need to do to make this work correctly.

XSleeper Member

Changing to an outswinging door is an just need to find one that matches. Outswinging doors are usually special order. I would not recommend that you try to make your current door work somehow. Start shopping.

Furd Member

While shopping, be sure to tell the salesperson that this is a door from the living area to the garage. These doors must meet a minimum fire rating, something that most interior doors will not do.

Heather Voss Member

There are not any matching doors—I looked. The ones they do have are on 4" and I have a 6" exterior wall.

XSleeper Member

Like I said, they are special order. Even your wall thickness is taken into account when you order the new door.

If you go to a large lumber yard that has a door department, (meaning they get all the parts and assemble the doors right there) they will be the best ones to help you. Most big cities will have a supplier that does that locally.

Heather Voss Member

I have attempted to do so already and have gotten the full story of how I don't know what I need. The salesman refused to acknowledge that exterior walls can be 6," and also said the direction of door opening would be unsafe and that I really need to just leave it alone.

I have avoided the big custom store as I can't afford to drop more than a month's pay on a door to the garage. Since the doorway has multiple boards to get the thickness right, I think I can reverse the hinges on the left side so that they are external (replacing them with appropriately secure ones), move the 4" boards that are the stop by 180, and relocate the strike plates.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

What size is your current door? To put in a wider door may require reframing the opening. Is it a load bearing wall?

Heather Voss Member

My current depth to door opening is 30.5." The dryer I currently have is 30.25." The newer one is 32" deep. The door will literally not open if I don't flip it. I am not planning on making the doorway bigger.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

You can reuse the same door, but you'll need to mortise for the hinges and striker plate, and maybe replace the door stops and threshold. Installing a new prehung would be easier.

XSleeper Member

You can't just take your door off the hinges and move it to the other side. Your door (which we can't see without pictures) in all likelihood currently sits above an adjustable threshold, and has an aluminum sill, right? If you take the door off its hinges and move it out 4" to the other side of the stops, it will have no weatherstrip or threshold, but will have a gap between the door and threshold.

The best you could do with your existing door is remove the interior and exterior trim, cut the nails with a sawzall, carefully lay the prehung door frame down without destroying the sill (which is likely glued down), then turn the entire prehung door frame around so that the weatherstrip and threshold are now on the outside. The door would then be outswinging but right handed. Like I said earlier, I don't recommend this, because inswinging and outswinging doors have completely different sill configurations, and just turning an inswinging prehung door frame completely around could be a trip hazard. The thin aluminum sill nose is not conducive to butting up to flooring when it is turned around. They are also not waterproof when you install them backwards, but as long as this door is inside a garage that shouldn't be a concern.

At that point, if you really wanted to change the handing of the door hinges from RH to LH, you could, but like I said in the first post, I don't recommend it.

Regardless of your bad experience at the door dept., IMO you should detail exactly the type of door you want and tell them to make it. (Ask them for a door "order sheet" to take home with you if you want to.) Take the interior trim off and stick a tri-square into the rough opening to verify the wall thickness. Do your homework, tell them exactly what you want and they will order or at least get an estimate for what you need. One most codes, an outswinging door needs a 36" landing if it opens out onto a step.

GlobalLocky Member

Many people these days are changing the entry door from garage to house into a pocket or cavity door. Often these doors can be made wider to accommodate larger appliances through them. If you think it would be difficult to convert or build a pocket door in that location, you might consider a surface-mounted sliding door (like a barn-style door). That way, you minimize opening space without losing real estate. Simply extend the jamb out and install a sliding door lock like the Lockwood 7444 for security.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Is it possible to fireproof a pocket door? How would the weatherstripping and threshold work?

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