When attempting to save space in your bathroom, you may be tempted to play about with your door opening. So, can a bathroom door open outwards? We found out...
If you opened this blog post, I'd say it's pretty likely you wanted to know which way a bathroom door should swing. Well, to put it simply, despite not appearing in any building regulations, all bathroom doors should swing inwards. And there are a number of very good reasons for this, which we'll get on to shortly.
As you go about your daily life, you shouldn't ever encounter outward-swinging toilet doors. In commercial properties specifically, like offices, restaurants and leisure centres, the door to any toilets should always be pushed open rather than pulled back (unless it is an accessible toilet, which we'll talk about later). If you do come across a domestic bathroom door that opens out, this is usually a symptom of shoddy building or lousy planning!
Why does a bathroom door swing inwards?
One thing you'll always need to take into account when designing the layout of your home is just how busy your household can be. What might seem like a small adjustment to your bathroom door could have a significant influence on your everyday life.
Here are just some examples of why bathroom doors should open inwards, so you can see how your choices will affect your home.
1. Busy landings and hallways
The first thing to think about, when considering a door that swings outwards, is the disruption it could cause on your landing or in your hallway. This is especially true if you live in a busy family household and have bedrooms between the bathroom and stairs. Furthermore, having a bathroom door open outwards in a small or restricted area is difficult and annoying. You could even end up damaging the walls if the door is opened too quickly or forcefully.
2. Potential accidents
If you think about it, an outward opening door is signficantly more risky than an inward-opening design, putting anyone on your landing or in your hallway in danger. Imagine you are walking past the bathroom when, all of a sudden, the door opens. The person exiting the bathroom could unintentionally strike you with the door swinging outwards.
Naturally, individuals need as much solitude as possible while using the bathroom and many people like to put a lock on their bathroom door—a must-have in a shared, rental property. The last thing you want is your housemates or any guests accidentally entering the room whilst you're in the bath or, worse, using the toilet! Whilst it is possible to lock an outwards swinging door, it can be more difficult.
4. Prevents bad odours
There's very little that'll dampen your mood quite like a lavatory stink that permeates your entire house! An outward-opening door can provide bad odours with an easier escape route if left ajar.
Bathroom doors can swing outwards if you are creative with their design
Some substitutes for bathroom doors which swing
1. Sliding door
A sliding door (also known as a "Shoji door", typically found in traditional Japanese homes) is the only option if you want a toilet door with a distinctive style. However, sliding doors require plenty of spare wall space or a complete reconstruction of your walls. Despite this, the results can be truly spectacular. If you are specifically going for an Oriental style bathroom, why not consider an authentic Shoji door? A wooden slat surrounds the window-like chambers of a Shoji door, which are constructed of parchment with a firm fibre. Although the strong fibre in the wax paper makes puncturing it tough, you should still use caution when opening this door.
2. Folding door
A folding or bifold door is another option when it comes to saving space in your bathroom. It may seem a little alien at first, as this type of door is quite uncommon in the average British home, but it is something worth considering, especially if you have very little clearance inside your bathroom. A bifold door is one that hinges and folds in the middle, while you may find other designs which fold up in a concertina-style, saving even more space.
An understairs cloakroom is, perhaps, one of the only places an outwards swinging bathroom door may be beneficial
When might an outwards-swinging bathroom door be suitable?
One instance where an outwards-swinging bathroom door may be necessary is for those with a disability. Wheelchair users or those with restricted mobility may find it easier to push the door open after use, rather than having to pull it back towards them. All accessible toilets in public spaces must have an outward-swinging door for this very reason.
Still want an outwards swinging door?
If you've read this far and still think an outwards-opening toilet or bathroom door is something you want, well, perhaps your mind is already made up? At the end of the day, the way your toilet door opens ought to be up to you! If you are designing a house from scratch, you can tailor your hallways and landings to accomodate the extra space for an outwards-swinging door. And, if you're retro-fitting to a home where it's just you, or perhaps a partner too, an outward-swinging door won't cause nearly as many problems as it would in a much busier household.
As we've already established, lavatory and bathroom doors typically open inwards, and this is true for both residential and commercial buildings. If space is an issue, bathroom doors can also be designed to slide or fold, providing a safer, more convenient option than simply reversing the direction of the swing. All these types of door avoid obstructing your landing or hallway, making your home a much more pleasant place to be. If you really do think you need a bathroom door which opens outwards, always consult an experienced builder before going ahead with any construction work.