Hardware (Entry Door) Buying Guide

Hardware (Entry Door)
  • What to Consider

  • Architectural Style: The front door handles, knockers, locksets should complement the architectural style of the home and the front door. Manufacturers often provide a “family” of hardware in styles that project the desired image.

    Usage: Who will be using the handsets? Provided in thumb turn, knobs and levers, understand knobs may be more difficult to turn for younger or older hands; levers offer easier usage.

    Door Size: The thickness of the door stile and placement of the predrilled holes will have an impact on the type of hardware. Having a template of the pre-existing holes will make it easier to choose the appropriate hardware. The height and weight of the door also will determine the number and sizes of the hinges required to operate the door effectively.

    Amount of Hardware:  A handle or knob is the minimum hardware needed. But homeowners may consider additional options. The doorbell or knocker for guests to announce their arrival; a peephole for solid wood doors without windows for privacy; locksets for security; and kickplates for the door bottom should coordinate with the handle set.

    Maintenance: If the front door is protected, the metal may not tarnish as easily as metals exposed to sun, wind and rain. Finishes that tarnish may be desirable on older homes while shiny finishes may need cleaning and polishing.

  • Hardware

  • Handle sets are available in a variety of styles, sizes, metals and designs.  The exterior handle goes through the door to an interior handle, which may be different from the coordinating handle outside.

    Knobs may stand alone with a key lock inside the knob, or may integrate a faceplate with a key lock in the faceplate. Usually, a knob outside will turn a knob inside.

    Levers also may contain a key lock integrated into the lever, with another lever used inside. Levers are ADA compliant and are easier to use for older and younger hands.

    Thumb turn handles are larger for a hand to grasp and use the thumb to disconnect the latch. These handles usually are designed as an arch and may contain a faceplate to protect the door from the grasp and provide an aesthetic. The key lock may be in the faceplate system or set apart as a deadbolt.

    Dummy handles are aesthetic only and do not contain a latch or lock. Used on interior doors and exterior doors, they appear to be performing, but are not.

  • Security

  • Security for the home is available from several systems. Keyed locks may be integrated into the handle sets, or may be separate. Locks often are tested and graded by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association.

        •  Door viewers can be installed into a solid door for inspecting visitors at an entry door with no windows.

        •  Door handle locks function by key or turning a button in the handle. They stop the knob or lever handle from turning. This is the least effective lock for security.

        •  Deadbolts consist of a cylinder installed through the door that activates a bolt from the door through the doorjamb. A key on the outside and a key or knob on the inside activate the locking system.

        •  Mortise locks require a box containing a locking system to be cut into the door. This is the most secure system and is most frequently used on commercial buildings.

        •  Keyless locks use a combination keypad to activate a deadbolt lock, which may be programmable from a smartphone or other wireless technology. This adds another layer of security.

        •  Chain door locks run a chain from a plate on the door to an access plate on the doorframe or wall. This permits the door to open for a few inches but maintains a little security.

    A Strike Plate will be needed on the doorframe to accept the lock bolt. Strike plates are created in several configurations so check the shape of the bolt. Also available in several types of metal to match or complement the lock and handle set.

    Swing Bar Door Guards are installed on the interior of an entry door yet permits the door to be cracked open about two inches for viewing while maintaining security.

  • Door Bells and Knockers

  • Doorbells announce the presence of someone seeking access to the structure. Several types and sounding systems are available. Also, today’s electronics offer doorbell systems with motion detectors that turn on the front lights when someone approaches, or even sends an image to a computer or smartphone of the homeowner for added security. One system may be used in the home at the front door and another access, such as the back, or patio door. The sounds can be different to alert the residents as to which door has visitors.

        •  Wired bells run an electric wire from an exterior button to an interior box that produces pre-designed sounds. From a simple bell to chimes to favorite music may be programmed into the doorbell.  Wireless bells send a signal from the button installed outside to a receiver inside that “rings” or provides music.

        •  Battery operated boxes can be installed near the entry door, making them easy to install.

        •  Plug-in boxes require an electrical outlet. These operate as long as the electricity is on.

    Knockers may be installed on an entry door to announce visitors. Mostly used on homes with an architectural style conducive to this design. Created in a variety of metals and designs, knockers make a statement about the homeowners.

  • Hinges and Kickplates

  • Hinges hold the door to the frame. When purchasing a new front or entry door, most frequently, the door is attached to the frame and is installed as a system. Three hinges are standard, with additional hinges used on taller, heavier doors.  A hinge may need replacing, or updating when new handle sets are installed.

        •  Hinge Anatomy: Leaf is the name of the two flat portions with screw holes that are attached to the door and the frame. Constructed of a variety of metals, such as stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, iron, etc., and a variety of thicknesses to support a range of door materials. The size of the leaf used is determined by the door thickness and height.  Barrel is the circular, hollow, end of the leaf, which rotates on the pin. Pin is the solid rod that runs through the barrels of the two leaves to allow the barrels to rotate for opening and closing the door.

        •  Residential hinges are lightweight, standard size hinges used on basic construction.

        •  Architectural hinges are an upgrade, with standard leaf sizing and larger sizes for supporting larger, heavier doors. Manufactured in a wider variety of metals, Architectural hinge leaves also are thicker to hold the weight of larger doors so doors and jambs may need additional mortise space to accommodate.

        •  Ball Bearing hinges include a ball bearing between the barrels of the leaves to reduce friction on heavy traffic doors.

    Kickplates protect the front door and provide an attractive balance to the hardware. Available in a variety of metals and finishes from polished to satin, oil rubbed or brushed and even weathered, the kickplate should be two inches shorter than the door width so it does not interfere with the opening and closing of the door.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Material: The type of metal used to create the hardware will have an effect upon the cost. The amount of material will increase the cost, so size does matter. Add faceplates, and the cost goes up.

    Electronics: Wireless doorbells, security systems, etc. will cost more due to the complexity of the system and technology involved.

    Sets: While a set may seem to be expensive, purchasing all the pieces together may save money in the long run. Each manufacturer provides sets of handles, interior and exterior, deadbolts, faceplates, etc. for ease of complementing the aesthetic.

    Installation: Add installation to the cost. Wired doorbells will require additional expense