Refrigerator Door Swing Clearance? (Beginners Guide)

By - Hs Saini

Updated -

Many people look forward to getting a brand new refrigerator set. There is excitement about the smell of a new appliance in the kitchen or its sight.

It could also be the satisfaction of laying your hands on the desired product. People gush over getting a new refrigerator in the kitchen for different reasons.

Well, there is also the small matter of ‘bragging rights.’

Besides the functionality of a refrigerator, it also makes for a fine finish in the kitchen. It can complement the kitchen setup and make it more beautiful.

The efficiency of your refrigerator is more on how it performs in the kitchen and less on the aesthetics. Still, many people get caught up in the excitement and forget installation guidelines.

When installing a new refrigerator, you must give room at the sides, the top, and the rear. That allows for free placement and movement of the unit. The space at the sides of the refrigerator allows for easy opening of the doors. If there is not much room, you cannot open the doors wide enough. Accessibility becomes a problem.

What Does Refrigerator Door Clearance Mean?

Refrigerator Door Swing Clearance

Refrigerator door clearance is the space you need to leave to the left and right sides of the unit. You must not miss that during installation.

You must meet the requirement so the doors can open at least 90 degrees.

If the angle is less, you will find it hard to reach into the refrigerator and use it conveniently. In addition, you will have to deal with the drawers scratching against the refrigerator walls.

As a matter of priority, adhere to door clearance requirements during installation. There are more downsides to leaving less space than the needed door clearance.

An example is the refrigerator doors scratching against the kitchen walls or furniture. 

So, when you look at a refrigerator you fancy bringing home, find out the door clearance. That is to ensure that it would fit into your kitchen space nicely when you get it home.

How Much Clearance Do You Need for a Refrigerator Door to Open?

The clearance you need for the refrigerator doors differs by manufacturer and model. You have to find out the specific need for your unit.

But, 2 to 4 inches of extra space by the sides of the refrigerator works well most times. 

The trick is; that the more the refrigerator is, the more the clearance space you need for the doors.

Still, there is no harm in leaving the maximum door clearance when you have a small refrigerator.

A good clearance allows doors to open wide enough. Then, you get to access the refrigerator without trouble.

Also, the door open handles would not rub against the wall or furniture when you pull. 

The minimum door clearance will let your refrigerator doors open at least 90 degrees. So, a larger clearance space gives a wider angle.

You will find the requirement for your product in the refrigerator buying guide.

How Much Side Clearance Does a French Door Refrigerator Need?

A French door refrigerator differs from other refrigerators due to its depth. Also, French door fridges need more clearance than most products.

Counter-depth fridges, counter-depth refrigerators, and bottom-freezer refrigerators need less space. 

A 3.75-inch door clearance will allow French door models to open 90 degrees. That is without the handle touching the wall.

But the door clearance for such models can reach 5 to 6 inches to allow greater angles.

When you have 5 to 6 inches of door clearance, you can get an angle of 125 degrees. Then again, the size of the French door refrigerator determines how much clearance space you need to leave.

For example, Samsung suggests 3.75 inches of door clearance for its 28 Cu. Ft. refrigerator.

That requirement is for when installing the unit along a wall. It allows the door to open 90 degrees without the handle touching the wall.

What Refrigerators Have Zero Clearance Doors?

It is possible to get a variety of refrigerators with zero-clearance doors. Sadly, you cannot get that with standard and full-depth refrigerators.

Zero clearance, as the name implies, means you do not need extra side space to open the refrigerator doors. 

You can get zero-clearance with counter-depth fridges and counter-depth refrigerators.

However, the doors extend past the surrounding cabinetry. That is not ideal when the unit is next to a doorway.

Today, many refrigerator manufacturers produce zero-clearance models. These are built-in refrigerator models that have no gaps on the sides.

That is because the refrigerator doors have unique hinges. The hinges keep the doors in place when they are open, so they do not swing wider.

Bosch, BlueStar, Haier, and Sub Zero, are among the manufacturers of zero-clearance refrigerator models.

Integrated refrigerators are a high-end option with zero-clearance doors. But, these models cost twice as much as standard refrigerators.

In addition, they do not come with panels. So, you have to order them separately, at an extra cost.

The good side is that you get to pick the panel material, color, and texture. That helps to achieve the perfect finish you desire in your kitchen. 

Integrated refrigerators are pricey, so they tend to scare people off. Sometimes, you get limited interior storage space despite the cost and zero-clearance doors.

You can also classify integrated refrigerators as hidden hinge refrigerators.

Can You Adjust Refrigerator Door Swing?

You can adjust the refrigerator door swing when the doors develop a problem or do not swing properly. You can solve that with the hinges of the refrigerator doors.

The level of the refrigerator also affects the door swing.

Below are some ways to adjust your refrigerator door swing.

#1. Adjust the Level of the Refrigerator

During installation, place the feet of the refrigerator in a way that makes it tilt back a bit. That way, the refrigerator door swings close on its own and less away from the unit.

This position helps keep the refrigerator doors in check. So they do not hit the cabinet or wall. 

Ensure the feet of the refrigerator are not even on the kitchen floor, just a slight tilt. However, always ensure the kitchen floor is even.

#2. Adjust the Refrigerator Hinges

The refrigerator doors will swing well if the top and bottom hinges are well-balanced. However, it is common for either of them to become loose over time due to opening and closing the refrigerator.

You only have to tighten the hinges if they are in good condition. However, if you see any damage, remove them and get new ones.

The hinges on the refrigerator also determine how far the doors swing.

Large door hinges will let the doors swing at a greater degree. However, you can consider getting small door hinges for a narrow swing.

How Close Can a Fridge Be to A Side Wall?

How much space you should leave between the side wall and fridge depends on the size.

For the small French door fridges on the market, ½ to 1 inch away from the side wall works. On average, 2 to 4 inches of space between the fridge and side wall is fine.

Typically, you should leave the same amount of space on the left and right sides of the fridge. But if you do not have so much room, leave more space on the side with a handle.

That is because the door open handle extends past the body of the fridge. 

Always stick to the door clearance requirement for your fridge model. That way, you have enough extra space at the rear, top, and sides.

In addition, you can allow contact for some counter-depth models and zero-clearance fridges.

How Do I Stop My Refrigerator Door from Hitting the Wall?

Your refrigerator door gets damaged and does damage to the wall when it keeps hitting the wall.

That becomes a bother over time. Thankfully, there are a few ways to avoid the contact between door and wall.

#1. Check The Refrigerator for Doorstops

Doorstops are contraptions that restrict the swing of the refrigerator door. You usually find them on the top or bottom hinges on the door.

Manufacturers build doorstops into refrigerators so users can choose how wide doors swing. You can check the refrigerator buying guide to see if your unit came with a doorstop.

#2. Check to See If You Can Reverse the Door Swing of Your Refrigerator

Sometimes, you can avoid contact between the door and the wall if you reverse the door swing. For example, maybe the door swings open from right to left.

It may help if you can change direction from left to right.

Unfortunately, you cannot get reversible refrigerator doors on French door models. So, check the refrigerator buying guide to see what you can do on your unit.

#3. Get a Soft Object to Cushion the Impact

This method comes in handy when your unit lacks a doorstop. Or when you cannot reverse the door swing.

You can place a soft piece of furniture between the door and wall to protect them from damage.


Refrigerator door swing clearance serves to allow doors open without hitting the side wall. But some units have zero-clearance doors.

So you do not need any extra space. If your door hits the wall when opened, try a doorstop or cushion the impact. Also, you can adjust the door hinges. So they do not open too wide.

    Sharing is caring! Spread The Love!

    Why Trust Our Information

    At, we are dedicated to delivering precise and trustworthy information. Our content is meticulously developed and validated by a panel of Expert Contributors, adhering to strict Editorial Guidelines. Our commitment is to ensure that you receive thoroughly researched and expertly crafted information.