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Which Way Should A Shower Door Open? How-To Guide

If you are building or renovating your bathroom, you might be wondering, “which way should a shower door open?” The answer isn’t as obvious as you think, so let’s explore what will work best for your bathroom.

Which Way Should A Shower Door Open

Which Way Should A Shower Door Open

According to building code IRC P2708.1, the direction a shower door opens should provide unobstructed access to the person in the bathroom in the event of an accident such as a fall. It also depends on your preference and the available space in the bathroom. 

Should a Shower Door Open Inwards or Outwards?

Because of the building code, most contractors and builders install shower doors that open outwards. If an inwards-opening door were to jam during use, it could swing shut and trap someone inside.

If a person gets trapped inside a room filling up with water, they would be at risk of drowning or serious injury. But rescuers would have timely access to the person inside if the door opened to the outside.

Which Direction Should Sliding Shower Doors Open?

The direction a shower door should open is a little complicated when it comes to sliding doors. Sliding doors slide on tracks instead of swinging on hinges. Because of this, they are easier to move and use in tight spaces.

Depending on your preference, you can choose to have your door open to the left or right. If you’re left-handed, it may make sense to have your shower door slide off toward the right side of the room so that it doesn’t get in your way. You should also consider the space around you and where you want the faucet installed.

Which Way Should Fixed Shower Door Open?

Fixed shower doors have a stationary opening, unlike sliding shower doors. There is no moving door. Instead, you can create the opening on your bathtub’s right or left side. The fixed door will be easier to clean and maintain than a sliding door because there are no tracks where mold can grow.

When deciding which direction to install your fixed shower door opening, consider how much space you have available and which way looks best for the layout of your room. The opening should directly lead to where you have your faucets. 

Which Way Should a Hinged Shower Door Open?

The most common types of hinged shower doors open inwardly. It is the most functional way to install a hinged shower door. It is also the easiest to clean.

You can also have the door swing outwards, which is convenient because it doesn’t take up space in your bathroom when open. This direction may make it easier for people with mobility issues if they stand near the door on one side while someone else opens it from the outside.

Which Way Should A Shower Door Open

Latch Hinges

Latch hinges sit against each other with no visible gap between them when closed (like a butt). These are used on bathroom doors where the door swings into the room rather than out. Therefore, you don’t need a gap for clearance.

Side Mount Hinges

Side mount hinges go on each side of the door and mount to the door jamb with screws. Side mount hinges come in many different styles, but the most common is a butt hinge.

These hinges have a curved face that fits into a mating groove in the jamb, allowing for easy adjustment of the door’s position. Butt-hinged doors swing out from the wall when opened, but some butt hinges are reversible.

Pivot Hinges

With a pivot hinge, a shower door can open both ways. The pivot hinge is a type of door hinge that allows the door to swing out from the center in either direction. It’s a great option for those who want flexibility when opening their shower doors.

Self-closing pivot hinges have a spring built into them that pushes the door shut after it’s opened. Non-self-closing pivot hinges only have one pin rather than two pins, so you’ll have to close your shower doors manually every time you use them.

How To Decide Which Way Should a Shower Door Open

The correct placement of the door is important because it will determine how you, your family, and your friends can easily use it. For example, should you install all shower doors so that they open toward or away from the bathing area? Here are some key factors to consider:

Simultaneous Users

There is a trade-off between doors opening inwards and outwards. So, it’s important to consider who else uses the bathroom when deciding which way to install your door.

If you have a large family, it would be best to have an outward opening shower door, so they can use it while someone else is in the tub or sink area. When a shower door opens outwards, no one will have to postpone brushing their teeth because someone else is using the bathtub!

If the traffic is smaller or you live alone, installing an inward-opening shower door may work better. There won’t be many people using it at once, which means less waiting.

Bathroom Space

Bathrooms, especially the ones in older homes, tend to be small and cramped. If you have limited bathroom space, opting for a shower door that opens outwards is ideal.

Bathroom Space

When you open a door inwards, it narrows your bathroom floor plan. Instead of having an unobstructed doorway at all times while you are using your shower or bathtub). You must step over or around the door every time you enter or exit.

Inward-opening doors can be inconvenient for large family members or guests who may need help getting into or out of the bathroom area.

Location of Faucets and Shower Head

If the faucets are on the same wall as the shower door, you want the door to open outward. This design makes it easier for someone to adjust their temperature. You can have the door open if they’re on opposite walls.

You’ll also need to ensure enough room for both the faucets (for example) and the shower head before choosing a direction for your door.

Building Regulations

Landlords and property owners must comply with building regulations, which state that all shower doors should provide easy access, especially for those who need assistance with mobility. It can be safer to have your shower door opening outwards than inwards.

If you’re installing a new shower or renovating an existing one, you must ensure that it complies with these regulations. You can find information about how you should open your shower door on your local council’s website.


Inward opening shower doors are easier to install because they do not require any additional framing. However, getting in and out of the shower might be difficult if installed too close to the wall. Inward opening shower doors also allow more water to splash out of the shower when you are rinsing off.

Outward opening shower doors allow more room for maneuvering inside the shower. However, they require extra framing around the door perimeter to keep water out of the rest of your bathroom. They also tend to leak more than inward opening models due to their larger size and lack of reinforcement around their edges.

Consider Your Individual Needs

The best way to decide which direction your shower door opens is by considering your individual needs and preferences. Think about how many people use the bathroom at once, how much space you have, and which direction makes sense for where you live!

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