Think I’ll have my Front Door Open Out on My Next House

People follow codes and trends, and in most places in my country (barring parts of Florida), the main entryway into a house opens into the house. I think this is annoying for an off-grid cabin.

Go ahead and tell me why I’m wrong in a comment, but I’m going to make my little case here.

The shabbin (my prior 8x12ft structure) has the crappiest door you can imagine. Basically a piece of plywood with a steel handle and heavy barn hinges. The seal around the entryway isn’t great, in fact it’s dreadful. It’s overly thick because of the framing. Yet, that door has never let a drop of water into that little hut.

Above, you might notice some water staining on the masonite near the bottom of the pic. That’s from a long time ago. I tried over and over to get this door to seal up water tight, but it the face of the door gets wet, that water is going to seep inside and onto the floor.

Problem number 1? I’m not a carpenter. I’m not any kind of professional builder, and there is a lot that goes into a modern doorway that I never considered. My framing was the wrong size, the door was a silly size, and I went through three bottom plates before I gave up on the matter and put that plastic coated storm door on the other side. The outer door serves one purpose, and it sure ain’t cosmetic. It’s job is to keep heavy rain off the main door. (And figuring out where that water was coming from was a chore, believe me. The current “it’s dripping down the door and seeping into the jamb” is just a theory)

I’m to the point now where I’m about to refit the wood frame with plexiglass instead of drop-cloth plastic. We got another rough thunderstorm today, and I had to replace the plastic when I got home. Both of my staple-guns are busted, so I had to get creative hanging it (it’s not secured with the duct tape, that was just to hold it in place till I could drive screws).

Now, if my primary heavy door were mounted to open up to the outside, I wouldn’t have this problem. There would be zero chance of water getting in, and I could have saved myself a lot of headache. But I went with the internet answer, and the common-sense answer.

The reason water can get in is apparently an improper hanging, but I call it and improper complexity to what a door needs to accomplish. It’s there to keep the weather out while providing an egress. That’s ALL a front door does! Why we insist on going against the natural tendency of covering a hole from the side exposed to the elements, I’m not sure. The only answer I can find is that people don’t want the door to catch the wind and snap open. They make a thing for that.

Also, most doors that open in come with storm doors standard. Hmm, I wonder why. Turns out I’m not the only bad carpenter in the world (imagine that), and this problem seems to show up quite often in older houses when a storm door breaks.

My windows have never leaked, they’re secured onto the outside of the building, and there isn’t even any siding to keep water from seeping in, yet they stay 100% dry to the plywood wall studs. I know because we got plenty of heavy rain while the house was still being roughed in. That was when I first noticed the front-door issue.

Another issue with opening out is that the door is less secure with exposed hinge pins. Really? Whether they are kicking it in or removing it by the hinges, there will still be a gaping hole in the front of the house if a robber decides to get in. At first I thought of this as a “city” problem, but even in that case it seems very unlikely that the direction a door hangs will encourage or deter robbers. Out here in the woods? Yeah, there’s no neighbors to call the police, and there are much easier ways to break into a house than removing the f-ing door by snapping out hinge pins.

Why do outside swinging doors keep rain out? Because all of the weatherstripping and wind blocking is done outside of the threshold. Again, this may be partly where I’m screwing up, but I did follow most of the instructions. Water that runs down an exterior door (like a storm door) lands on the splash pan and runs outward. On an interior door, it runs down the weather stripping and sits on the jamb at the bottom. Needless to say, I could fix this, but not without a lot of time and expense that I don’t care to fuss with. It’s easier and cheaper to make a better storm door, and the problem is settled.

Back to the point, I don’t care what the supposed reasoning is behind this inward-opening front door phenomenon. When I build my next house up here (I’m sure I’ll need at least one more dwelling before I die, or at least planning on it because nothing lasts forever), I putting the front door on the outside. Do it that way, and this specialized problem that requires a door-jamb to be assembled in a perfect and complex fashion suddenly disappears. I’ll get a chain an a damper so it doesn’t blow away *rolleyes*. Hopefully that will be a more hand-crafted house and I’ll be gathering all/most of my building materials from the woods, but we’ll see.

I know it isn’t something that anyone outside of a situation like mine ever thinks about, but it could be something to think about if you ever decide to build your own little shelter in the woods, or perhaps a fun thing to think about.

Till next time…

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