How to Determine the Hand (or Handing) of a Door Q&A

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Dear NH,

I am planning to install exterior doors on my home, How do I tell a right hand door from a left hand door? This is really confusing. I thought it may have to do with which side of the door the hinges are on. Do I face the door from the inside or outside to tell which I need a left or right handed door. Thanks

CS from Dothan, AL

Dear CS,

The simple answer is to stand in the doorway with your back against the hinges. If the doorknob is to your left, it is a left-hand door. If the doorknob is on your right, it is a right-hand door.

Now, in the case of exterior doors (which typically open inward), you must designate that the door is a left-hand inswing or right-hand inswing. The designation "inswing" not important for interior doors because both sides are finished the same, But for exterior doors, it lets the manufacturer/supplier know which side of the door is the outside, which is often clad or finished differently from the inside.

Click here for more door handing information and diagrams in a separate article.


Dear NH,

I am confused by the term left hand door and right hand door even after your rather clear explanation.  The reason I am still confused is that this directly contradicts the information on .  I want to place a lever handle on an interior door.  The door pulls toward you from the outside.  The handle is on the left indicating a left hand door.

The hinges are on the right.  The site explains this as a right hand door.  I want to get a lever handle from them.  Which is it?


Dear JO,


The problem is in their description of "handing".  If you look at the diagram on their website, they are labeling the "handing" based on the lockset orientation you need to choose, not using the typical industry standard for handing.

What they call "left-hand outswing" is (in the door industry) actually "right-hand outswing".  The left hand inswing and outswing (per their diagrams) use the exact same lockset (with the key on the outside).  In other words, the lockset handles look the same but the latch plate is rotated 180 degrees so it latches properly.

I guess they changed the standard handing conventions to make is easier for the customer who doesn't know anything about handing to order.  Otherwise, they would have to call each lock both left and right handed, adding to the confusion.  Based on the description of your door, it is indeed a left-hand outswing, but for ordering purposes from this company, indicating "right hand" in the order follows their modified convention.