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Do French Doors Open in or Out? (Quick Answers)

Nothing says renaissance style like good old French doors. Whether you have decided to have one on your patio or garden, French doors always add to the interior of your home.

French doors are affordable, neat looking, and easily installed. Thus, we understand why you would consider having one in your home. And before you do, it is crucial to know if French doors open in or out.

Do French doors open in or out?

French doors can either be inward opening or outward opening depending on one’s preference. Most French doors open outwards as they are designed to be safer, as well as, leak and water resistant. Additionally, space and building codes may determine how a French door can be opened.

Exterior French doors:

Exterior French doors are ones that are placed at the entrance of a house.

Exterior French doors can also open both ways, but because they are placed at the main entrance, most people prefer a safer and weather-resistant French door that opens inwards.

Yet, if there is not enough space in the outside area of your house, having swinging French doors is also a viable option.

Interior French doors:

Interior French doors are placed inside the house.

These doors are mostly pathways from one room to another and are placed in between the living room and dining room or in study rooms. Interior French doors open in the direction where there is more space.

Inside, the placement of furniture and décor determines where you want the interior door to open.

French patio doors:

French patio doors are unique in design as they slide instead of opening inwards or outwards.

Should french doors open in or out?

Since French doors can open inwards or outwards, there are a few factors that you would need to take into account before choosing the direction. French doors should open outwards if safety is your priority.

If you live in an area where the snowfall is heavier, you may want a French door that opens inwards. For some, outswing French doors are not safe because the hinges are outside and hence make the door more vulnerable to thieves.

However, modern outward opening doors are designed differently and take care of the burglar problem with different hinges.

While French doors can open inwards or outwards, there are several reasons why most people choose to have French doors that are outswing. Additionally, it is also recommended to have outswing French doors if there is enough space.

While there is no specification to which direction the French door should open, it always comes down to one’s preference. If there is no specific building code and there is enough space both outside and inside, you may want to consider the factors of safety and weather.

Why do French doors open outwards?

Here are a few reasons why most French doors open outwards


When you are considering the safety of your home, it is always better to have a French door that opens outside. Since these doors are safer than inswing doors, most people choose to have French doors opening outwards.


One of the primary reasons why more people choose French doors to be opened outwards is the weather.

When a French door is an outswing, it comes with a gasket. This gasket is a piece that is missing in an inward swinging door and is one of the main differences that make outswing French doors more preferable.

This gasket prevents water to leak inside the home, especially when there is rain outside.


Since French doors are mostly placed on the entrance of the patio or garden, there is almost always enough space outside.

Among the important factors to consider when deciding where you want to open your door, space is the most important one.

Additionally, you may also notice how you might have some furniture placed inside the home. In that case, opening the door inwards would be obstructed.

Further, due to the availability of more space outside, opening a French door outside makes better use of home space as well. Your interior walls are free to be decorated with other furniture.

Can you have French doors that open inwards?

You can certainly have French doors that open inwards. People who have more space inside compared to outside, prefer to have French doors that open inside.

One example is when you want a French door on the balcony. If the balcony space is tiny, opening the door inwards is ideal as it does not create obstruction and confine any space.

Besides, in areas where snowfall is heavy and opening the door outwards every morning could become a hassle, it is also wise to have the French door open inwards.

Inward swinging French doors do not have a bumper as opposed to outward swinging ones. Gaskets are also designed differently for French doors that open inwards. In theory, inswinging doors may be more susceptible to burglary as they are easier to open.

Can you reverse french doors?

French doors are engineered in such a way that they can either swing inwards or they can swing outwards but not both ways. Hence when a French door is installed and set to open in a specific direction, it is not possible to reverse the door and open it as one may like.

For many, this might seem unfair, given a French door can open both ways. However, there are good reasons why you cannot reverse French doors.

For one, the structure and design of the doors are different. While outswing doors comprise of a bumper, inwards doors are free of this bumper.

Moreover, gaskets that come with the French doors are specific to the design. The design in turn depends on the swinging direction. Reversing the French door may even result in a leaky entrance.

Reversing the door also changes the doorstop molding. If you are to reverse the door, you may have to change and installs the doorstop again, this not only requires extra cost, effort, and time but sometimes ruins the swing of the doors as well.

Do both sides of french doors open?

A French door has several panels and is comprised of a double door. However, you may have noticed how one of the double doors is mostly shut and the other is open.

In a French door, both the doors can be opened in the same direction. One of the doors is usually closed and one is opened for regular use. The most used door is the one that consists of a mobile handle as well as a hardware piece.

On the other hand, a latch is attached to the door that is mostly closed and that is what keeps the other door closed.

4 things to consider before choosing which way your French door should open

Here is what you need to keep in mind:

Your current door direction:

If you already have a door that does not need replacement, you would need to have a French door open in the same direction as your current door opens.

However, if you have a completely new door with a door frame, you’ll be able to decide whether you want the French door to open inwards or outwards. For that, you may need to consider a few more factors.

Building codes may be specified:

Although not always the case, there may be cities, states, or even areas with strict building codes.

In some of these building codes, there are restrictive rules to which way a French door or patio door can open. You may have to abide by that if the building code says so.

Know if you have enough space:

Whether you want your French door to be outswing or inswing, you would first have to make sure that there is enough space for the door to open in that direction.

This is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to the swinging direction of your French doors.

What’s the weather like:

French doors are mostly placed in the garden or patio? Hence you would have to weigh up the possibilities of obstruction created by the weather in your area. For instance, leaks can be a problem when the direction of the French door is not right.

If you face heavy snow most of the time in the year, you would be better off with an inswing door. You may also have to consider the direction which favors and suits the climate in your area

Final Thoughts

French doors can open inwards or outwards but not both ways. It is also not possible to reverse a French door. French doors that open outwards are both more weather resistant and safe. However, if there is heavy snow in any place, inswing French doors are better.