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What is a Pivot Door? Types, Styles and Uses

Photo collage of different types of pivot doors.

Recently we stayed in a magnificent house in Whistler, BC Canada. It was a 5-year-old, 5,500 sq. ft. ski chalet with soaring ceilings, huge rooms, beautiful kitchen, impeccable decor, stunning bedrooms and bathrooms, a billiards room, media room, swimming pool, incredible view and a pivot front door. This front pivot door was enormous; akin to entering a palace.

Like an idiot, I forgot to take a photo but you can see the front door here. I had never stayed in a place with a pivot front door. It was definitely different.

Since then I spent quite a bit of time researching and learning about pivot doors generally.  They aren’t just for front doors.

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What is a pivot door?

A pivot door is one that opens and closes by rotating on a spindle instead of hinges attached to the side of a door and door frame [source: Red Horse Custom Pivot Doors].

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What is the advantage of a pivot door?

Other than the “unique” factor, the main reason to use a pivot door is it allows for much wider doors.  The door in the house we stayed in was a very wide single panel door. The wider the door, the further in from the frame the spindle.

One other advantage, which is always the case with home improvement, and that is design.  You simply might prefer the look of a larger single panel door. I’ll say this for them after staying in a house with a pivot door and that is when you first encounter it, it’s a bit of a headscratcher. 

You notice that something is slightly different but you may not be able to put your finger on it right away.

Types of pivot doors

There are two main ways to categorize pivot doors.  By use and by material.  Other than that, they function much the same way.

By use

By use I’m referring to type of door as in location in the home.  While you could technically turn any door into a pivot door, they are usually used for the following purposes.

Pivot front door

The most commonly used pivot door (not that they’re terribly common) is for a front door.  This gives a homeowner the opportunity to hang a huge front door that’s not a double-pane.

Yellow wood and glass pivot front door Glass pivot front door

Pivot shower door

Another area in the house where pivot doors are used is for shower doors.  Showers get bigger and bigger every year which offers more space for a larger door.  Pivot style glass doors make it possible to hang a large shower door.

Pivot-style shower door

Source: Home Depot

Pivot closet door

While pivot doors are often used so that the door can be huge, you can also use a pivot hinge for closet doors.  

Pivot closet door by

Pivot closet door by

Can you use pivot doors for interior or patio doors?

Sure you can.  A pivot door can be used wherever you’d have a traditional hinge door.  It just depends if you want to spend the money and have the space. 

In fact, they could make for a great patio entry door given they can be large which results in a nice wide entrance to the patio.

By material

Another way to distinguish among pivot doors is by material.  There are three main materials used for pivot doors.  They are:

  • Wood
  • Steel
  • Glass

There are also hybrids that incorporate two or more of the above materials such as steel and wood.

Can pivot doors swing both ways?

Yes, you can have them installed so that they swing inward or outward.  For a front door this might be good but for a closet, you’ll want them to only swing outward.

Are pivot doors dangerous?

They do create a large opening on the back swing side of the door where kids could get a hand or arm stuck.  Given these doors are often heavy, it could cause injury.  While traditional hinge doors are not without risk, the opening created by a hinge is much smaller.

Can you go all out and install a double pivot door?

A pivot door can be 48″ wide.  That’s 4 feet wide which for most folks is plenty wide. But suppose you really want to create a wide opening, can you install two side-by-side pivot doors?

Yes, you can.  You could literally have nearly 100″ of a door-opening which is nearly 8 feet wide.  That is quite the opening.

What does a pivot door hinge look like?

Obviously a pivot door hinge is different than a regular door hinge (there are many different types of door hinges).  First of all, there are only to parts – one for the top and one for the bottom.  Regular doors usually have three hinges.

Here’s a photo of a pivot door hinge:

CHHQ Hidden Door Pivot Hinges Heavy Duty Hinges 360 Degree Shaft for Wood Doors 304 Stainless Steel Brushed Finish Hardware

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