Problem with open door blocking hall

Stewart Colley
August 11, 2019

I can live with this problem but would rather not. When opened, the door leading from the main floor to my basement blocks a hall. Our building code here will not allow the doors to open in the direction of the stairs. What do you think?

Comments (24)

  • mer03

    Replace your solid door with a glass door.

  • cd7733

    I agree with getting a glass door, full lite or half lite unless there's room to install a pocket door. A pocket door would be able to eliminate anyone getting hit by the door, and a glass door would help you see anyone in your path.

  • SaltiDawg

    Would re-hinging the door left-right solve the issue? Sounds the easiest and cheapest, if so.

  • Stewart Colley

    No, either way would block the hall. I have thought about pocket doors but it would have to be split because of clearance issues. I'll post a photo later.

  • SaltiDawg

    I have to wonder if a pocket door would even be pemitted at the head of a staircase. Also, as you have seen, many stairs would not have wall space for the door at the top of the stairs.

  • cat_ky

    One house we lived in, had the same problem. I solved it by removing the door and putting up two half doors that were swinging, but had a latch on the main floor side, so no one could accidently fall. The swinging doors would open out, or in, when we wanted to go downstairs. It was a finished basement, though, so was heated etc like the rest of the house.

    Stewart Colley thanked cat_ky
  • tatts

    But...How often is the door open? I go to our basement maybe once a week, tops.

    Does it have to remain open at any time? Why not just close it after you if blocking the hall is a concern?

    Stewart Colley thanked tatts
  • cat_ky

    Tatts a door like that is a huge concern. If you close the door after yourself, and then when you are coming back up the stairs, if someone is in that area when you open, it, and you open against them, it could push you backwards down the stairs. Worse if you have a laundry down there and are carrying a basket of laundry up. Believe me, I have been in that position. Most people also go to their basements a whole lot more than one time a week. I used to make trips up there a dozen or more times a day. Kids playroom was there, laundry was there, family room was there, my sewing room was there, and another room, with just plants and plant lights was there, along with utility room, and canned good storage, and paint storage.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    Post some pics of the space it is all just guess work without them Why a door at all ?

  • SaltiDawg


    The door at the head of the stairs MUST open into the upstairs ... not into the staircase! Period

    There can be no risk of the door opening into the staircase and pushing someone back and down the stairs. There also would be no problem with your laundry basket.

    That's why we have building codes.

  • cat_ky

    Oh yes, it can be a problem Saltidawg. I was coming up the stairs with a laundry basket, when one of my kids went by and shoved the door shut, and I had the laundry basket in front of me. It knocked me down the steps.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    No door is the solution IMO.and of course it can’t open into the staircase .

  • SaltiDawg

    cat_ky. I can see why you'd not see a solution.

    In every home I have ever owned except one, we had a basement with
    stairs and a door opening away from the steps at the top of the stairs.
    NEVER, EVER, EVER did we have anyone pushed down the stairs - with or without the laundry basket.

    Did you injure yourself when yuur child pushed the door and you fell backwards down the flight of stairs?

  • cat_ky

    Lots of bruises and one broken finger and a sprained arm, but, it could have been worse. LOL I agree with Patricia, no door is probably a soloution, except, when it is by the main door, and someone comes in and has to take off boots etc and they could lose their balance and fall. Seems, sometimes, the stairways to basements are not located in a good location in some houses.

  • Stewart Colley

    Tatts, I think that's what I'm going to have to do.

  • SaltiDawg

    Does Fire Code have anything to say?

  • erinsean

    I had one toddler fall down stairs by pushing on the door which opened into the stairs. He was not hurt (fell about 4 steps) but scared me. Our door now opens away from the stairs and you have to shut the door to go down the hallway to the kitchen. Not the best but a lot safer.

  • Stewart Colley

    The only thing the inspector told me was that the door should open away from the stairs; not into them. Here are those photos:

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C

    If it's a door to the basement keep the door closed. If the stairway and your basement is finished and you want to keep the door open, take the door out all together or put the door at the bottom of the stairs instead if for whatever reason you need a door.

  • SaltiDawg


  • skmom

    We solved that same problem of ours by installing a barn door. (Ours is not rustic, it’s really just a sliding door) we couldn’t so a pocket door because of electrical and it being a fire wall. Changing from right to left swing didn’t make a difference, and changing it to swing into the basement was NOT an option for safety reasons. But from the pictures you show, it doesn’t really look like there’s enough wall space to accommodate a barn door situation either!

    Stewart Colley thanked skmom
  • Stewart Colley

    Thanks skmom. You're right. There isn't much room on either side and a sconce in the way.

  • grapefruit1_ar

    We have had the same situation for 33 years, and it has never been a problem. I go up and down those stairs dozens of times a day ...with my laundry, groceries, etc. The door has been kept slightly ajar for most of that time since the cat' s food/littler were down there.

    Stewart Colley thanked grapefruit1_ar
  • DavidR

    Bifold door?

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