Should A Shower Door Open In Or Out?

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Large elegant master bathroom with shower, and big bath tub.

When building or renovating a bathroom, specific considerations will come to light regarding key fixtures within that limited space—for example, installing a shower stall to spruce up the bathroom. While installing the booth is pretty straightforward, it is in the shower door wherein a question will likely arise – should the shower door open in or out? Read on below to read the answer to this question and other factors that you should consider. 

Your local building codes will dictate the final answer if a shower door open outwards. When possible, the better choice is to have a shower door that swings both ways. The main reason for having the shower door open outwards is safety. In case of an emergency, first responders can easily access the patient inside compared if the door swings inwards where it can easily get blocked. 

Shower Door Installation Rules

As stated above, a shower door must be designed to open outwards, as indicated in building codes. A shower door that only swings inwards can be easily blocked by any large object or the person inside who became incapacitated. But, of course, we are not restricted to an outer opening shower door. A good alternative is a free-swinging door that swings inwards and outwards. See the types of shower doors to choose from.

If you wish to install a free-swinging shower door, first make sure that at least 30-inches of clearance is in your bathroom. Also of note is the issue with free-swinging doors not delivering enough seal to keep steam inside the shower stall. If this is an issue for you, we suggest sticking with an outward swinging shower door. 

Which Side Should a Shower Door Swing Open? 

Unlike whether a shower door should open in or out, deciding which side should open does not have any official rule. As such, you will need to consider several factors for this one. 

  • Bathroom Floor Space

For those with limited floor space in their bathroom, you need to position the shower door to swing open so that it will not hit anything. Most shower doors are made from glass, and so any impact can shatter the whole glass door. 

  • Shower Head Location

Next up, you need to take into account the location of both the showerhead and faucet. Typically, a shower door is positioned away from the tap and showerhead. However, the advantage of placing the shower door near the faucet is if you want to adjust and check the water temperature first before jumping into the shower. So, this is more of a personal preference.

Is it Possible to Install the Shower Door in Reverse?

Light blue modern bathroom interior with glass door shower

While we cannot account for all the shower door brands, in most cases, yes, you can flip the shower door in reverse if need be. This should allow you more versatility during installation as you can pick whether the hinges are on the left or right side. Also, you might want to check out a sliding shower door, as this pretty much solves the problem of having limited bathroom space. 


The primary and, basically, the only rule for shower doors is that they must open outwards. Fortunately, a more practical alternative is to have a sliding shower door. Choose this option if possible, as it offers convenience, safety, and flexibility when entering the shower stall.