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Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 04:04 AM
Why do doors in different countries open in different directions? At least in USA doors open towards the inside, whereas in Finland they open to the outside?

Common sense suggests that doors that open outside are a lot harder to kick open, since it would be the frame of the door that absorbs the hit, in addition to any locks and bolts that might be present. Whereas door that open to the inside would have to rely on the bolts alone. Now, that may or may not be relevant to everyday-situations but still.

Is there any reason, historical or otherwise why doors open the way they do?

Markleshark
Jan 15, 2008, 04:07 AM
There you go you see, I thought all doors opened the same way.

I have no idea why they do, but I have learned something.

c-Row
Jan 15, 2008, 04:16 AM
If there are stairs outside, it would be a bit "uncomfortable" for the person standing in front of that door as soon as it opens. ;)

tMac85
Jan 15, 2008, 04:16 AM
the way doors open depends on the room and the building. Exterior doors always open out. interior doors always open in unless the room followed is to small to enter(closet). When it comes to public buildings it changes a little depending on ocupancy and "in the case of emergency" therefore all rooms seating/holding more than one hundreds persons will have doors opening out (theatres). its code. And as far as I understand its pretty much the same world wide.
-tim... Your friendly architect
hope this. Helps

iBlue
Jan 15, 2008, 04:20 AM
the way doors open depends on the room and the building. Exterior doors always open out exterior doors always open in unless the room followed is to small to enter(closet). When it comes to public buildings all changes depending on ocupancy and "in the case of emergency" there for all rooms seating/holding more than one hundreds persons will have doors opening out (theatres) its code. And as far as I understand its pretty much the same world wide.
-tim... Your friendly architect
hope this. Helps
You understand incorrectly. Well, at least partly...

A great deal of (public) doors in the UK open towards the building. I've always thought it was strange because if there were an emergency it might be a problem. (someone has to hold the damn door open instead of just pushing it and running out)

I think the reasoning is that there are people on the street who are more likely to be hit with the door, so they open in.

http://upc.edesignuk.com/uploads/smilies/shrugman.gif

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 04:21 AM
the way doors open depends on the room and the building. Exterior doors always open out interior doors always open in unless the room followed is to small to enter(closet).

I clearly remember seeing (over and over again) how exterior doors in USA open in to the apartment. Or is it so that if you have a house, the door opens to the outside (since the door is outside), whereas in apartments (where the door might be inside a stairwell) they open to the inside?

When it comes to public buildings all changes depending on ocupancy and "in the case of emergency" there for all rooms seating/holding more than one hundreds persons will have doors opening out (theatres) its code. And as far as I understand its pretty much the same world wide.
-tim... Your friendly architect
hope this. Helps

Naturally doors of public buildings open outside here as well, but we never paid any attention to that, since just about all doors open to the outside. Interior doors open outside, exterior doors open to the outside...

Ish
Jan 15, 2008, 04:27 AM
When we were building our house we had some brochures from a number of timber frame companies and I noticed that the Scandinavian ones typically had exterior doors that opened outwards which, they said, was in response to the climate.

But, as you say, Evangelion, it would have a security advantage too though probably not the reason for it in Scandinavian countries. Don't think the crime rate there is that high. [Wonder if that's because it's hardly ever dark in the summer and in the winter it's too flipping cold!]

tMac85
Jan 15, 2008, 04:30 AM
apartment buildings are considered public and in certian situations the way it swings can change. Because the door is leading you into a hall way it will open in. Also if you have anytype of predoor (screen door) on your house your door will then open in but only on private homes not public. There are lots of exceptions and the architect has to way out emergency over practicality all the time or he could face big problems in the end. I'm not sure then how it works in the UK you must have different codes than the states

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 04:54 AM
When we were building our house we had some brochures from a number of timber frame companies and I noticed that the Scandinavian ones typically had exterior doors that opened outwards which, they said, was in response to the climate.

I thought about climate-issues, but I'm not sure how outward-opening doors help there. What we usually have, is that after you open the door, and step inside, you enter a tiny room (about 1m x 1m, maybe a bit more, it depends) where you leave your shoes (that's another cultural difference: you don't wear shoes in the house, whereas in USA and UK you do. That is most certainly due to the climate), that has another door that leads deeper in to the house. Think of it as an airlock or something. the rationale is that when you open the outside door, you don't get a rush of cold air in to the house.

But, as you say, Evangelion, it would have a security advantage too though probably not the reason for it in Scandinavian countries. Don't think the crime rate there is that high. [Wonder if that's because it's hardly ever dark in the summer and in the winter it's too flipping cold!]

I don't think they designed the doors that way because of crime :). Crime was just something I noticed because in the Hollywood-movies, the bad guys are always kicking in doors with ease.

Ish
Jan 15, 2008, 05:13 AM
I thought about climate-issues, but I'm not sure how outward-opening doors help there. What we usually have, is that after you open the door, and step inside, you enter a tiny room (about 1m x 1m, maybe a bit more, it depends) where you leave your shoes (that's another cultural difference: you don't wear shoes in the house, whereas in USA and UK you do. That is most certainly due to the climate), that has another door that leads deeper in to the house. Think of it as an airlock or something. the rationale is that when you open the outside door, you don't get a rush of cold air in to the house.

No, I'm not sure how they help either, which is why I was a bit non-committal! Thinking about it though, if the door opens outwards, the raised weather strip will be on the inside and the wet won't come through, whereas if it's on the outside, the wet can get between that and the door.

I don't think they designed the doors that way because of crime . Crime was just something I noticed because in the Hollywood-movies, the bad guys are always kicking in doors with ease.

So are the police!! :D

bigandy
Jan 15, 2008, 05:17 AM
I guess the general consensus is that people are far happier with doors that swing both ways ;)

pachyderm
Jan 15, 2008, 05:36 AM
i work in special ed. you'd be surprised how tricky they,doors, can be for some folks! :p:) seriously...

Greasyman
Jan 15, 2008, 07:20 AM
I don't know about large buildings like office buildings, but every door other than screen/storm doors in a single family house or small apartment building I can think of opens in. As I understand it this is so in case of fire if something or someone falls in front of the door it won't be blocked, which it would be if it opened out.

Years ago my roommate went semi-nuts and was in the psychiatric ward of the hospital for a few days. The patient rooms had regular style hospital room doors that opened in for fire safety, but they had another, smaller door cut into the center of the regular door that opened outward, so if the patient barricaded himself in the room the staff could open the smaller door and enter the room.

Lyle
Jan 15, 2008, 07:23 AM
This thread has gone on entirely too long without anyone bringing up Donald Norman's book The Design of Everyday Things (http://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday-Things-Donald-Norman/dp/0385267746) (a.k.a. The Psychology of Everyday Things). It's been a little while since I last read it, but I know that one of the examples he uses has to do with how doors are designed, and where the handles are placed, and so on.

macmike47
Jan 15, 2008, 07:24 AM
I like doors. :D

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 07:29 AM
This thread has gone on entirely too long without anyone bringing up Donald Norman's book The Design of Everyday Things (http://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday-Things-Donald-Norman/dp/0385267746) (a.k.a. The Psychology of Everyday Things). It's been a little while since I last read it, but I know that one of the examples he uses has to do with how doors are designed, and where the handles are placed, and so on.

The the funny thing is that I actually have that book sitting in my bookshelf :o

Cloudane
Jan 15, 2008, 07:44 AM
Just when you think you've discussed everything you can on the internet from politics and religion right down to which hand you hold your fork in, up comes an even more random thread :D

A great deal of (public) doors in the UK open towards the building. I've always thought it was strange because if there were an emergency it might be a problem. (someone has to hold the damn door open instead of just pushing it and running out)

I think the reasoning is that there are people on the street who are more likely to be hit with the door, so they open in.

True. Almost all doors open inwards here. The public are pretty stupid (and/or ignorant) in this country and would certainly bash the doors into pedestrians if they opened out. The emergency issue tends to be dealt with by fire exits, which open outwards.

Of course you get some oddballs like KFC where the doors open outwards and you get a constant stream of people doing the push-oops-pull manoeuvre.

imac/cheese
Jan 15, 2008, 08:08 AM
When we were building our house we had some brochures from a number of timber frame companies and I noticed that the Scandinavian ones typically had exterior doors that opened outwards which, they said, was in response to the climate...

I would imagine that a door opening outward in a snowy climate would be a pain. If you had a few feet of snow blown up onto your porch it might be a bit hard to push your door through it. Of course if it opens inward some of that snow invariably gets blown into the house.

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 08:28 AM
I would imagine that a door opening outward in a snowy climate would be a pain. If you had a few feet of snow blown up onto your porch it might be a bit hard to push your door through it. Of course if it opens inward some of that snow invariably gets blown into the house.

Well, I'm from Finland, and I have never heard of anyone having that particular problem :). It _might_ be a problem if there was no porch or steps outside the door, but since there always is, there is no problem.

Don't panic
Jan 15, 2008, 08:33 AM
I thought about climate-issues, but I'm not sure how outward-opening doors help there. What we usually have, is that after you open the door, and step inside, you enter a tiny room (about 1m x 1m, maybe a bit more, it depends) where you leave your shoes (that's another cultural difference: you don't wear shoes in the house, whereas in USA and UK you do. That is most certainly due to the climate), that has another door that leads deeper in to the house. Think of it as an airlock or something. the rationale is that when you open the outside door, you don't get a rush of cold air in to the house.


but there is your answer:

if traditionally (because of climate) you have a small "ante-" room, you need the two doors (outer and inner) to swing outwardly from that room otherwise there wouldn't be enough physical space for them to open in the little 1x1 room, and still fit comfortably.

that design does lend itself more to the risk of being snowed in (or out) during a snowstorm if there is no porch to protect the outside

Done-on-a-Mac
Jan 15, 2008, 08:38 AM
The homes I've lived in the exterior doors opened inward - as if inviting you in. Though the apartment doors I also used opened outward. Which I thought would be rude to people wanting to come in, to have a door swing at them. But I guess for security reasons the apartment door would be harder to "break-in" if it only opened out.

The is all speculation of course.

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 08:39 AM
but there is your answer:

if traditionally (because of climate) you have a small "ante-" room, you need the two doors (outer and inner) to swing outwardly from that room otherwise there wouldn't be enough physical space for them to open in the little 1x1 room, and still fit comfortably.

Not necessarily, since it's still not established that doors that open inside offer benefit when compared to those which open outside. They each have their benefits (doors that open inside can be broken open more easily by the police etc., whereas doors that open to outside are easier to open if you need to run out the building in case of fire etc. etc.)

that design does lend itself more to the risk of being snowed in (or out) during a snowstorm if there is no porch to protect the outside

But since everyone has a porch, that is never a problem. I have lived here for 30 years, and I have never heard of anyone being snowed in their homes :). True, roads have been blocked due to snow etc., but never ever have I heard of a case where someone can't get out of their home because snow is preventing them from opening the door.

neoserver
Jan 15, 2008, 08:46 AM
Where I'm from, I haven't really noticed a standard per se... We tend to use both outward opening and inward opening doors... All depends on the shop, and whether the shop has separate doors for going in or going out...

Macaddicttt
Jan 15, 2008, 08:51 AM
When I imagine doors to houses opening outwards, I can't help but imagine very awkward situations in which someone knocks on the door, and gets hit or awkwardly must avoid the door when it is opened towards them, especially on a smaller porch.

Don't panic
Jan 15, 2008, 09:03 AM
Not necessarily, since it's still not established that doors that open inside offer benefit when compared to those which open outside. They each have their benefits (doors that open inside can be broken open more easily by the police etc., whereas doors that open to outside are easier to open if you need to run out the building in case of fire etc. etc.)

but that's not what i said.
regardless of the balance of benefits, if traditionally you have (or had) a small room at the entrance of the house, the doors to that room must open outwardly from that room because of physical restraints: there is no space inside the small room for them to open inwards and still be able to manouvre in the room.
that means that outer door of the house should open outwards.

once the tradition is set, even if some houses lack the small outer room, the outside door would likely remain the same because that is what people are used to.


as far as being snowed in (or, more likely, out), i am not saying it's an issue or it happens frequently (especially in an urban setting), but it could be a problem in some situations (e.g. a log cabin in the woods in a snow-heavy country). A couple of times I have been snowed out of my car, and the possibility of being able to get in from the other side saved me a lot of digging.

Evangelion
Jan 15, 2008, 09:13 AM
When I imagine doors to houses opening outwards, I can't help but imagine very awkward situations in which someone knocks on the door, and gets hit or awkwardly must avoid the door when it is opened towards them, especially on a smaller porch.

If people know that the door will open outwards, they know to stand clear of it. They know the door will open towards them, take one step back and to the side, and that's it :).

but that's not what i said.
regardless of the balance of benefits, if traditionally you have (or had) a small room at the entrance of the house, the doors to that room must open outwardly from that room because of physical restraints: there is no space inside the small room for them to open inwards and still be able to manouvre in the room.

Well, sometimes those "airlocks" are quite big, so the space might not be an issue. On some older houses they can be something like 3x3 meters in size, so in those cases it wouldn't really matter which way the door opens. And then we have apartments that have the door facing a stairwell. They do not usually have those "airlocks" (since opening the door does not expose the apartment to cold outside air), and they still have door that open to the outside.

But it might be that it all boils down to tradition in the end.

emw
Jan 15, 2008, 09:16 AM
The the funny thing is that I actually have that book sitting in my bookshelf :o

Um, yeah, me too. :p

(Seriously)

Applespider
Jan 15, 2008, 09:26 AM
Bear in mind that in Victorian houses, the internal doors can vary too. Many of them open into the room - but the side which opens depends on the orientation of the room. In public rooms, the door is often hung so that you can't see into the interior of the room until you get past the door - this allows a quick separation and tidy up if there was anything inappropriate going on.

Plymouthbreezer
Jan 15, 2008, 09:41 AM
Building codes and architectural standards.

Berlepsch
Jan 15, 2008, 09:46 AM
But it might be that it all boils down to tradition in the end.

I think you hit the nail on the door with that. Since most European cities tended to be rather tightly crowded, having the door swing inside was more practical - if there was a cart parking right in front of your door, you could at least climb over.

In northern Europe however, houses are usually build at larger distances. During winter, having the door mounted on the outside of the usually wooden houses reduces wind draught, since the door is pressed to the frame if the wind blows on it. Also, since the door does not need to swing inside, its bottom can be lower than the level of the floor.

For burglars it is probably even easier if doors swing out - the hinges are accessible, and you can use a crowbar in any case.

.JahJahwarrior.
Jan 15, 2008, 01:36 PM
Bathroom doors are a pet peeve of mine. It is my opinion that they should open outwards....that is, when you go in, you should have to pull on a handle. When you exit, you should not have to touch anything with your hands to leave.

I HATE it when one door is like that, but then there's another door (why do you need an antechamber or lobby for a bathroom anyways???) and it's the opposite. So you have to touch a door handle which has been touched by hundreds of people who might not have washed their hands.....ugh.

floriflee
Jan 15, 2008, 02:59 PM
If people know that the door will open outwards, they know to stand clear of it. They know the door will open towards them, take one step back and to the side, and that's it :).

It's those doors that you can't tell which way they swing that get me.

Bathroom doors are a pet peeve of mine. It is my opinion that they should open outwards....that is, when you go in, you should have to pull on a handle. When you exit, you should not have to touch anything with your hands to leave.

Amen, but with an addition. It's nice to have the door go out if the bathroom is especially small. I have had bathrooms where the door will bump your knees if you're sitting on the loo. You basically have to schooch yourself around the whole time just to get in, do your business, and get out.

atszyman
Jan 15, 2008, 03:04 PM
Common sense suggests that doors that open outside are a lot harder to kick open, since it would be the frame of the door that absorbs the hit, in addition to any locks and bolts that might be present. Whereas door that open to the inside would have to rely on the bolts alone. Now, that may or may not be relevant to everyday-situations but still.


Traditional door/hinge design would require the hinges to be located on the outside for doors to open outwards negating the security benefit of harder to kick in, since you only need to pop the hinge pins and the door will come right off the frame...

Le Big Mac
Jan 15, 2008, 03:24 PM
Traditional door/hinge design would require the hinges to be located on the outside for doors to open outwards negating the security benefit of harder to kick in, since you only need to pop the hinge pins and the door will come right off the frame...

That is what I've always understood to explain exterior/entry doors--at least on regular houses.

I think you might also be able to pry at the latch more easily, since there wouldn't be a jamb protecting 1/2" or so.

Since Finland has no crime, maybe their doors can open outwards without fear.

mactastic
Jan 15, 2008, 04:54 PM
Traditional door/hinge design would require the hinges to be located on the outside for doors to open outwards negating the security benefit of harder to kick in, since you only need to pop the hinge pins and the door will come right off the frame...
Christ, I'm amazed it took this long to get the right answer. Traditionally, doors open inwards because of the way hinges work. With the hinges on the outside, anyone could pop your door open. Hinges that are not subject to this are much more expensive, and a modern development necessitated by exiting requirements.

Plus, the shadow line around the door from the door being inset into the frame is generally considered an architectural plus. Notice the difference between windows that are set flush with the exterior of a building versus ones that are inset a ways. The effect is quite dramatic with such a (seemingly) simple change.

Now, commercial and institutional buildings are a different animal. And by different, I mean expensive. It can easily cost $3,000+ to install a door and frame with commercial-level hardware on it. But they have to open out because of exiting requirements built into the applicable codes. There are also requirements for the maximum force required to work the latch, as well as requirements for no twisting, grabbing, or pinching being required to work the latch.

There are also requirements for how far out into the path of travel a door may swing. This is why most commercial and institutional buildings have recessed doors (plus it makes it easier to provide cover over the door from the elements). You wouldn't want your exterior doors smacking everyone walking down the street as your customers enter and leave the building.

-Your friendly neighborhood architect.

Evangelion
Jan 16, 2008, 01:36 AM
For burglars it is probably even easier if doors swing out - the hinges are accessible, and you can use a crowbar in any case.

Traditional door/hinge design would require the hinges to be located on the outside for doors to open outwards negating the security benefit of harder to kick in, since you only need to pop the hinge pins and the door will come right off the frame...

Hinges are usually hardened, and the doors are usually designed in such a way that you can't lift it off the frame. They have bolts on the hinge-side that go in to the frame when you close the door. Even if you managed to rip the hinges clean off, the door would still be held shut by the lock and those bolts.

Lau
Jan 16, 2008, 01:50 AM
A great deal of (public) doors in the UK open towards the building. I've always thought it was strange because if there were an emergency it might be a problem. (someone has to hold the damn door open instead of just pushing it and running out)

I'm sure when I was a kid here in the UK that all the doors did open towards the building as you say, apart from McDonalds, which opened outwards (and seemed fairly unusual to do so). I'm sure I was told it was because McDonalds was American, which may or may not be true, but interesting to hear you say that.

In a completely unrelated note, I often made a tit of myself entering or leaving McDonalds. ;)

iBlue
Jan 16, 2008, 02:00 AM
I'm sure when I was a kid here in the UK that all the doors did open towards the building as you say, apart from McDonalds, which opened outwards (and seemed fairly unusual to do so). I'm sure I was told it was because McDonalds was American, which may or may not be true, but interesting to hear you say that.

In a completely unrelated note, I often made a tit of myself entering or leaving McDonalds. ;)
hehe, well I make a tit of myself all the time pulling the doors to get in. I hear that uncooperative *thud* of the door hitting its frame and always hope no one noticed my tittishness. (then they hear me speak and all bets are off :-p)


It could be that McDonald's expects a crowd fleeing from the premises in a hurry. "aaaaaaah, it's dog food in a bun!" :D

pachyderm
Jan 16, 2008, 05:35 AM
i work in special ed. you'd be surprised how tricky they,doors, can be for some folks! :p:) seriously...

well, clearly, this isn't as open and shut as one might think! :apple:

iBlue
Jan 16, 2008, 05:48 AM
well, clearly, this isn't as open and shut as one might think! :apple:

oh man, I knew someone was going to say it! (or some variation of: 'just don't let it hit ya where the good lord split ya'.)

pachyderm
Jan 16, 2008, 05:58 AM
"knock, knock..."

Cloudane
Jan 16, 2008, 08:24 AM
"Who's there"
"Macbook"
"Macbook Who?"
"Macbook Air"
"Well? Macbook Who?"
"I told you, Macbook Air!"
"Yeah? Macbook errr what? Can't you remember?"
"Never mind"

So with all that excitement/disappointment/whatever we're back to talking about doors, goodo :D

myeggsareboiled
Jan 16, 2008, 08:29 AM
Speaking as a UK fireman, It really doesn't matter which way they are hinged, as if you hit it with a sledgehammer, they all go in eventually.....

iBlue
Jan 16, 2008, 08:48 AM
Speaking as a UK fireman, It really doesn't matter which way they are hinged, as if you hit it with a sledgehammer, they all go in eventually.....
I think the same might be said for most objects, inanimate or not.

atszyman
Jan 16, 2008, 09:25 AM
Hinges are usually hardened, and the doors are usually designed in such a way that you can't lift it off the frame. They have bolts on the hinge-side that go in to the frame when you close the door. Even if you managed to rip the hinges clean off, the door would still be held shut by the lock and those bolts.

and this makes sense for commercial/public buildings where safety comes into consideration and mass crowds may need to exit in a short time. For residences this would be a significant cost increase for the doors. And after reading all the griping about $20 iPod Touch apps, one thing is evident... people, by and large, are tightwads.

Although I do have to admit, being able to open the door quickly into the face/head of door to door salesmen and other solicitors would be fun...take that miss "do you want some girl scout cookies?":D

johny5
Jan 16, 2008, 09:30 AM
Speaking as a UK fireman, It really doesn't matter which way they are hinged, as if you hit it with a sledgehammer, they all go in eventually.....

lol, this is so true :)


on a side note, how many of you go to open a door and read the writing thats on the otherside of the glass (written backwards) that says pull. You brain reads it and you pull!

Aeolius
Jan 16, 2008, 05:41 PM
Do we need a new thread to discuss the implications of pocket doors? :D

apfhex
Jan 16, 2008, 07:00 PM
In all the apartments and houses I've ever seen, the front door opened inwards. Obviously if there were a room that was too small for the door to open into, it would open the other way, but I've never seen an entrance (or exit, for that matter) room THAT small.

My bathroom door opens outwards (away from the room) but of the houses and apartments I've been in, it's actually the exception (besides one house I know which has a sliding door there ;)), most open inwards. My bathroom is constructed such that it has to open outwards.

d_and_n5000
Jan 18, 2008, 06:12 AM
I've also heard that in areas prone to hurricanes, builders would build exterior doors to swing out because then it would be harder for hurricane winds to blow the door in and, y'know, destroy everything.

ErikCLDR
Jan 18, 2008, 06:35 AM
All doors in public places open out.

A while back there was a night club that caught on fire and there were wall coverings that were flammable and tons of people got killed because they ran for the doors but they opened in so no one could get the doors open because everyone was pushing.

I think inside a house its more sightly to have doors open in, more welcoming too. Its like saying "here, come in" compared to "move the door has to open".

In my house all the doors open in except closets and the door to the basement.

We also have 3 pocket doors! I love when new people come to my house can't find the door

David G.
Jan 19, 2008, 06:33 PM
Whether or not the door opens in or out does not matter to me. It's the revolving doors that really get to me. :mad::mad::mad:

Counterfit
Aug 28, 2010, 04:35 AM
Your nickname is now Dr. Frankenstein.
(That's Frahnken-steen)


But yeah, an outside door opening outwards would leave bolts and hinges exposed to whoever wanted entry. Not good for homes. An outside door opening inwards is awkward in emergencies. Not good for public spaces.

bartelby
Aug 28, 2010, 04:45 AM
I was trying to figure out why this thread has been resurrected. Then I saw the other threads and the resurrecter's sig...

R94N
Aug 28, 2010, 03:23 PM
Yay for resurrected threads! I had completely missed this one before, possibly because I wasn't even registered here then ;)

Gregg2
Aug 28, 2010, 08:15 PM
But yeah, an outside door opening outwards would leave bolts and hinges exposed to whoever wanted entry. Not good for homes. An outside door opening inwards is awkward in emergencies. Not good for public spaces.

There is hardware for doors opening out so that removal of the hinges will not allow removal of the door(s). It involves sturdy "studs" attached to the hinged edge of the door which fit into recessed holes in the door jamb, and other things for double doors.

While I didn't read page 2, on page 1 a few people brought up the problem of outswinging doors hitting unsuspecting visitors or passers by. Well, the simple solution for that is to set the doors back into an alcove. This is how virtually all school classroom doors are installed in the US.

But yeah, in public buildings doors to the exterior and doors serving large gathering spaces swing out. (such as a classroom - I think the limit is 50 people, but I'd have to look it up) In a stairway with no direct exit to the outside, the exit level door swings out into the hallway or lobby. All other stairway doors on the levels above and below the exit level swing into the stair, as that is the direction of exiting.