How to Determine Door Handing

Whether you are a homeowner wanting to replace a door in your home, or a professional in the construction industry, one of the most important things you can learn about doors is how to determine the handing. Every door, residential or commerical, can be identified by it’s handing.

There are four possible door handings: Right Hand, Left Hand, Right Hand Reverse, or Left Hand Reverse.

When I began working in construction, I was taught the old builders’ adage that you can tell door handing with the “Butt to butt” technique, literally putting your backside up against the butts of the door(hinges) and noting which side of the door frame the door was located on. I quickly learned that this technique was pretty ineffective, which is probably why so many mistakes are made in door installation.

A much better method for determining a door’s handing is to first determine which side of the door is the “secure side.” Every door should be handed from it’s secure side, or the side where you need to use a key. In a home, the secure side of an entrance door would be the side that’s outside the home. In an office building, the side of a door facing the corridors would be the secure side.

Once you have determined the secure side, stand on this side and take note of where the hinges are located. If the hinges are on your right, you have a right hand door. Similarly, hinges on the left mean you have a left hand door.

While this gives you your handing, you still don’t know whether you have a reverse or regular handing. To determine this, stand on the secure side of the door and open the door. If the door opens towards you, the door is reverse-handed. If you have to push the door so that it opens away from you, you have a regular handed door.

Why is handing important? You must know your door’s handing when replacing a door so that hinge, lock, or strike locations will line up with the existing frame preps. In addition, many locks and exit devices are handed, or prepared for a specific door handing, so you have to know the handing of your door when ordering your lock. In the commercial world, door handing is often confusing, but is vital to the project’s success, as commercial door and hardware products are much more sensitive to handing errors. Knowing how to properly determine a door’s handing can be beneficial to your career and to your project’s bottom line.

Determining the handing of your door is easy using these simple steps, and can save you from mistakes throughout the door installation or ordering process.

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