What is Egress Door

Emergencies do not arrive with a warning. They just bolt over your head, leaving you with less time to figure out how to escape the situation. It could be a fire, an earthquake, or a terrorist attack that requires you to evacuate your building as soon as possible. Knowing about ways to escape these situations safely will help you stay prepared for the worst. One such method is utilizing Egress Doors.

Within this article, you will learn what an Egress Door is, why it is important, and how to use it in emergencies. So, let’s begin the tour.

What Is An Egress Door?

If you are unfamiliar with an Egress Door, you must first understand the term egress. “Egress” means the action of exiting a place. However, this door is not the same as any exit door. This specialized door is designed in a way so anyone, even a person with disabilities, can easily open it without a key or special knowledge to escape a building in dangerous situations.

How To Identify An Egress Door? 

You can easily identify an Egress Door from their eccentric look. All the doors that come along your way to the exit are considered egress doors. They are about 32 inches wide so that anyone can access them easily. These doors has no keyholes and is free from complex mechanisms. These gateways can only be pushed outwards, allowing for a smooth exit. You can escape from the door by pressing the panic button.

Types Of Egress Door

You might be wondering if that is all about an egress door. Well, these can be of many types, and it is important for you to know about them all so you can identify them and escape through them quickly when the need arises.

  1. Side Hinged Egress Door

Much like a traditional door, these egress doors swing in a horizontal axis on either side toward the exit. It is designed for easy movement of heavy crowds, making it suitable for industrial buildings. However, they need a wide space to open, which makes them unfit for smaller rooms and corridors.

  1. Pivoted Egress Door

Unlike side-hinged ones, a pivoted egress door rotates on a vertical axis, making it easier to move from both directions. Their unique and modern design is why it is chosen for installation in commercial buildings. They can be heavier to use than other egress doors and are usually narrower, which can restrict the free flow of people during an emergency situation.

  1. Balanced Egress Door

For places with a possibility of heavier traffic during the time of emergency evacuation, the balanced egress door is the best option. The feature that makes it different from a side-hinged egress door is that it can be opened from both sides. It allows people to move in both directions, but it can become a limitation, too, as it may cause congestion.

  1. Double Egress Door

It consists of a pair of two doors in a single frame. The doors open in opposite directions to one another, which offers greater control of flow during evacuation. The double egress doors are made from high-quality steel and are usually installed in hospitals and schools.

Where Can You Find An Egress Door?

Emergency situations can happen anywhere. It could be a supermarket, an office building, or even at home. If you get stuck in a building during a life-threatening situation, an egress door is a secure way that leads you to your escape. 

Where Can You Find An Egress Door

You can find these doors in almost every building. Some examples are as follows.

Commercial Egress Door

Commercial buildings are usually busy places with large crowds. In such scenarios, if an emergency arises, chaos is certain. These situations need an escape that allows everyone to make it through safely. When it comes to commercial buildings, every door acts as an egress door. In these settings, side-hinged egress doors are suitable for people to evacuate the building quickly.

Commercial Egress Door Requirements

An egress door in commercial buildings must have the following characteristics:

  • They should have a width of 3 feet and a height of 6 feet and 8 inches.
  • They must open at least up to 90 degrees in the direction of the exit.
  • They must have a panic button for rooms with large capacity.
  • There should be more than one egress door at a significant distance for faster evacuation.

Residential Egress Door

You may overlook the importance of these doors in your house, but it can turn out to be a lifesaver. Imagine if an earthquake happens or your kitchen catches fire. In these circumstances, the only way out is through an egress door. You can not just have egress doors but emergency windows and staircases for exit at your home.

You must follow the residential egress door requirements before installing one at your home.

For Residential Egress Doors:

  • An indoor egress door must be at least 32 inches wide, while the outdoor ones must be 36 inches wide.
  • The door must open towards the side of the exit and provide enough space to escape the room easily.
  • These doors must be well-lit, have a simple locking mechanism, and a lever-style handle to make the exit easier.

For Residential Egress Windows:

  • The windows for egress should be at least 20 inches in width and 24 inches in height.
  • Their distance from the ground must not exceed 44 inches.
  • They should be easy to access and must operate from the inside only.
  • One must keep the windows from damage or rust so they remain functional in case of emergencies.

For Residential Egress Staircase:

  • The staircase to make an emergency exit must be a minimum of 36 inches wide, with the step around 7 inches high.
  • The handrails and guardrails must be 34 to 38 inches high. The spacing between the vertical bars of the guardrail should be a maximum of 4 inches to prevent tripping.

Basement Egress Door

Your basement is the least expected place where you will consider placing an egress door. But this place can leave you the most vulnerable in times of emergency. You can choose between a “door” or a “window well,” whichever suits your basement design to plan a safe and easy exit.

The requirements you must keep in mind before constructing an egress path for the basement are given below:

For the Basement Egress Door

  • These emergency exits must lead to a public street, a yard, or an alley.
  • An egress basement door must have a width of 32 to 48 inches and a height of around 78 to 80 inches.
  • These doors must swing outdoors for a smooth and easy escape.
  • They must not have complex locking mechanisms to prevent being stuck.
  • The door’s threshold should only be a maximum of ½ inches high and a slope of the ratio 1:2.
  • They should be easily accessible and within easy reach.

For Basement Egress Window Wells:

  • The window well must be at least 36 inches wide and long so a person can easily fit in and climb out.
  • These wells must be covered with a cover to prevent a person from accidentally falling into them.
  • The window should be about 20 inches in width and 24 inches in height and should be installed 44 inches above the ground.

Locking Systems In Egress Doors

There are as many types of locking mechanisms as varieties of egress doors. Let’s look into each of them so you know how to operate them properly.

Free Egress

When an emergency emerges in places like malls, movie theatres, and restaurants, having a clear, unobstructed, and quick route to escape is very important. In such locations, free egress doors are installed that are not fastened by any lock. This facilitates a smooth single movement, which allows one to escape immediately without any delay.

Delayed Egress

You will find delayed egress doors in places like hospitals, airports, schools, and museums. These doors are operated with a panic button that turns on an emergency alarm to alert everyone in the building in emergencies. These doors take around 15 to 30 seconds for security reasons to prevent anyone from immediately escaping in normal situations.

Controlled Egress

Controlled egress doors have sensors that automatically open them when an emergency arises, but otherwise, they are secured from the inside with electromagnetic locks or by a manual switch. They are needed in settings like hospitals to prevent patients from wandering in dangerous areas.

Egress Door Vs. Fire Door

After getting to know about egress doors, you may mistake it for a fire door. However, some slight differences make an egress and a fire door apart from each other.

  • A fire door is specifically designed to provide protection during a fire. An egress door on the other hand, is installed for escaping any emergency situation, including fire.
  • An egress door may or may not be fire resistant, but a fire door is obviously meant to resist fire.
  • The fire doors are built from fire-resistant heavy metals and glasses. An egress door can be made up of vinyl, wood, aluminum, or other materials.
  • Egress doors have panic buttons that immediately open the way to exit. Fire doors lock and seal themselves from the heat of the fire to prevent it from spreading in the building.

How To Choose The Right Type Of Egress Door

Now that you know everything about an egress door and why they are necessary for keeping you safe, let’s move ahead in finding out how to choose the one that suits your needs.

  1. Egress Door Type: When planning your emergency escape, it is essential to select the right door that will suit your building needs. For example, a window well egress for homes or a double door for healthcare or educational sector buildings.
  2. IRC Building Codes: Before you start installing your chosen door type, you must make sure the egress door meets the requirements of the IRC Building codes.
  3. Material: Are you using an egress door for a commercial building, your home, or as a fire exit door? Choose the material that withstand the emergency conditions while helping you quickly exit the place.
  4. Design: The door must be structured in a way that is easily accessible and operable, even for people with disability and mobility issues. You can select a design or ask your commercial locksmith to choose design that goes with the aesthetic of your building while staying functional.
  5. Cost: The last but one of the essential things to look into while installing an it is the cost. Invest in cost-efficient egress doors that need less maintenance while providing complete safety.

Final Thoughts

You have come a long way from reading the word “egress” for the first time to uncovering its features and significance. This guide will help you find the perfect escape door you are looking to install in your building. You can build the quickest, safest, and most efficient escape plan for any emergency situation by drawing on the essential information about egress doors from this manual. With egress doors, you can be carefree in any building.


What is an egress door?

An egress door is an emergency door designed for quickly escaping a building in situations of emergency or threats.

How much would it cost to install an egress door?

The cost of installing an egress window or door depends on several factors, such as material used and installation location, and may range from $2000 to $4000.

How to secure an egress door?

Egress doors do not require any special keys or knowledge to unlock them and are secured with panic bars and electric locks that open these doors automatically or with less effort.

What are some basement egress door ideas?

You can choose a bulkhead egress door for the storage basement or window wells for basements with living areas.

What are the egress door hardware requirements?

An egress door must swing in the direction of the exit, have a clear opening, be easily visible and accessible, and must meet the IRC building code requirements.