When replacing an existing door, it’s critical that you order a pre-hung door with doorframe and ensure it has the same swing as the existing door so you do not come up against issues with design, bumping against furnishings or counters, and so on. When hanging a new door in an entryway for the first time ever, or if you have remodeled and are unsure how to determine door swing, this succinct guide will help you discern a right-hand door swing from a left, and vice versa.

Replacing an Exterior Door: Is it an Entryway with a Left Hand Door Swing or Right?

Here's a handyman's trick for determining the swing of a door: Before removing the existing door, open it. Now, stand in front of the door facing away from the entryway (so that if the door was closed your back would be up against the door itself). If in this position your right hand is closer to the doorknob and lock of the exterior door, this door has a right-hand door swing.

Now let's step it up a notch and say you currently have no door hanging in the doorframe. Here's the trick: with your back against the imaginary door — even without a door present — you should be able to tell where hinges are or were, and this serves as your guide. So, if the hinges are closer to your right hand with your back up against the imaginary door, then you have a left-hand door swing (because the hinges are on the opposite side of the doorknob).

Choose the Correct Door Swing Before Ordering Interior or Exterior Pre-Hung Doors

Before you order or pay for any door, no matter how much you love it and have your heart set on it, be sure you have determined the best swing for the door and its frame within the rough opening. This is especially important for exterior doors, as they are more likely to be part of a structure or home architected with either a right or left-hand door swing in mind from as early as the blueprints.

If you’re unsure when looking at the rough opening which direction the door swing ought to be, review the blueprints of the building or home. If you don’t have the blueprints, you can obtain building plans for nearly any residential or commercial structure as long as it was all done aboveboard with permits and was built or had plans submitted from 1979 forward. Usually, if you have proof of ownership of the structure, the city will send you digital copies of the building plans — here you can see where all doors are meant to go in the original structure and which way they should swing!