Door hardware refers to any of the items that are attached to a door or a drawer to enhance its functionality or appearance. The most common items include door knobs, levers, handlesets, deadbolts, hinges, door stops, knockers, door guards, viewers, strike plates, door catches and latches. Many of these items are easy to install which can make an upgrade to the existing look of a home or business quite simple and inexpensive. With a little bit of knowledge about what you need and how to install, you can soon have a new look and feel for the inside and outside of your home.
There are four basic types of door knobs – a keyed entry knob, privacy door knob, passage door knob and dummy door knob. Before starting a home or office improvement project to upgrade your door hardware, take a quick inventory of these items. A Keyed Entry door knob is keyed on the exterior and thumb-turn on the interior. A Keyed Entry knob is usually used for a front door, however sometimes they are used in offices. Privacy door knobs have a functioning latch mechanism and a push-pin knob that is typically used for bathrooms and bedrooms. A safety knob allows the door to be opened from the outside if necessary. Privacy door knobs do not require a key to be knobbed or unknobbed. Passage style door knobs have a functioning latch mechanism but do not knob. They are typically used for closets, interior doors that do not require knobs or in entryway sets in combination with a deadbolt. Dummy style door knobs are used for ball catch doors or other applications where a latch mechanism is not needed, but a similar aesthetic effect is desired.
Door levers are essentially the same as door knobs with regard to types and function. The main difference is that levers are ADA compliant and can easily be used by someone who cannot firmly grip a knob in order to turn it.
Handlesets are generally used for exterior doors and come in a wide variety of types so it is important to know what type you need along with some basic measurements (e.g. door thickness).
One Piece Handlesets are commonly referred to as Monolithic Handlesets and consist of a single plate which connects the grip to the deadbolt. Be sure to know what your center-to-center measurement is prior to ordering one of these handlesets. Two Piece Handlesets, commonly referred to as Sectional Handlesets, are composed of two sections. The deadbolt and the grip are mounted separately from one another. Full Plate Handlesets rest on a full plate backing where the deadbolt and handle both rest. Entry set Handlesets offer the elegance and beauty of a typical handleset but with a knob or lever instead. These come in various functions including keyed entry, passage, privacy, and dummy.
Electronic Handlesets or Keypad front entry sets, combine the security and convenience of a keypad deadbolt with the elegance of a handleset. These entry sets provide a great first impression and keyless convenience.
A Single Cylinder Handleset utilizes a key on the exterior and a thumb turn on the interior for locking and unlocking the deadbolt. Single cylinder handlesets are available in Two Piece, Full Plate, One Piece, and Entry Set styles. Double Cylinder Handlesets utilize a key on both the exterior and interior for locking and unlocking the deadbolt, providing an extra measure of security. Double cylinder handlesets are available in Two Piece, Full Plate, One Piece, and Entry Set styles.
An Interconnected Handleset includes a built-in device for easy exiting. If the knob/lever is turned from the interior side of the door, the deadbolt will automatically disengage itself. The interconnect function connects the lock’s plain latch and deadbolt latch, allowing you to simultaneously retract both. Interconnect locks are ideally suited for apartment buildings, assisted living facilities, and other multi-family housing where quick and panic-proof exiting is needed.
Like door knobs and handlesets, there are various types of deadbolts as well. A Single Cylinder Deadbolt utilizes a key on the exterior and a thumb turn on the interior for locking and unlocking the deadbolt. A Double Cylinder Deadbolt utilizes a key on both the exterior and interior for locking and unlocking the deadbolt, providing an extra measure of security. A Keyless Entry Deadbolt is one that is thrown by a rotating interior turn-piece or exterior keypad, remote control or key. The latch is retracted by an interior knob/lever or exterior thumb piece. A One Sided Deadbolt is operated by a thumb turn on one side with no trim on the other side.
When purchasing any of the above, you will come across terms like ‘handing’ and ‘trim packs’ which are two basic features to be familiar with. A door’s “handing” describes the direction in which it swings. Doors can be either right or left handed and be “inswinging” or “outswinging”. To determine a door’s handing, stand facing the closed door on the side of the door that will swing toward you as it is opened. If the door handle is on your left, it is a left-hand door; if it is on your right, it is a right-hand door.
Trim packs refer to the interior items associated with the exterior portions of a handleset or exit device. When ordering a handleset online rather than purchasing a pre-packaged set at your local big box store, you may have a variety of trim packs to choose from. For example, the interior knob or other options may come in different finishes.
In addition to the main items of door hardware discussed above, there are a number of door accessories and parts to consider as well.
A hinge is a component that attaches one edge of a door to the frame, while allowing the other edge to swing from it. It usually consists of a pair of plates, each with a set of open cylindrical rings (the knuckles) attached to them. The knuckles of the two plates are offset from each other and mesh together. A hinge pin is then placed through the two sets of knuckles and usually fixed, to combine the plates and make the hinge a single unit. One door usually has about three hinges, but it can vary.
Door stops, or mechanisms used to keep door or door knobs from damaging walls, come in several configurations. The stops are categorized by their location such as the baseboard, floor, wall or hinge pin.
When upgrading exterior doors you will want to make sure the smaller accessories such as knockers and viewers (aka peep holes) match or complement the chosen handleset. Don’t forget the smaller interior items as well, such as door guards that prevent the door from opening fully, and strike plates and latches that are viewable when the door is open. Attention to the small details can make a big difference in the final product of your remodeling efforts.