Making sure you have enough room for your doors to function is an important part of designing a space. A wonderful space loosses its panache if the door bangs into the back of the sofa, or if there isn’t room for someone to pass by while the door is open. Avoid the problem by knowing how much room a door requires and plan accordingly.
Hinged door swings
Measure the width of the door. Allow this amount of space in front of the door and against the wall where the door rests when fully opened. This is the minimum space the door requires for full function. If the door opens into a hallway, add 36 inches of maneuvering space in front of the door and at least 6 inches on the wall. This accommodates people passing in the hall while the door is being opened. If the door opens onto a landing, such as an outside door, or door at the top of a staircase, it is helpful to add 24 inches for safety concerns.
Double swinging doors
Double swinging doors — sometimes referred to as saloon doors — require half the width of the door both in front and behind the door for operation. Add 36 inches in both directions for ease of traffic flow. For example, if the door overall width is 48 inches, the door requires a minimum of 24 inches in front and behind the door for operation, but for optimal operation, allow 60 inches to the front and to the back.
Sliding doors, or pocket doors do not require any swing room, but do require space both in front and behind the door to allow for people moving in and out of the room. If the door allows people to move through (as opposed to a sliding closet door), allow an additional 36 inches of free space on the other side.
Each side of the French door requires its width in door swing to the front of the door. It also requires this same distance as adjacent wall space if the door rests against the wall after opening. Allow an additional 36 inches in front of each door for people movement. Some French door systems have one door installed as an inoperable door, meaning it does not open — it is permanent in the closed position. You need not allow for door swing against the wall for these doors. Because they present the appearance that they open, you should allow the same space for door swing and traffic flow as if it functioned.