Door handles are produced in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the plain, to the very ornate. They are also made in a variety of materials and finishes, such as plastic, steel, aluminium, brass, chrome, silver, and antique brass.
Other than their primary function as a mechanical device for operating the door latch, they have become without doubt a fashion accessory that enhances any door or doors to which they are fitted to; the hardwood front entrance door shown here on the left demonstrates this. In addition to this, they can be used to set the theme of a particular fashion trend throughout the home, or establishment.
Door handles are one of the many items which are referred to as ‘Door Ironmongery’ or ‘Door Furniture’. The other items referred to as door furniture includes hinges, locks, latches, bolts (and other security devices), and the postal letter plate. With this in mind, door furniture should be of the same material such as brass for example; brass hinges and screws, with brass handles, brass latch forend and keep. The front entrance door too would require matching lever lock handles, postal letter plate, weather threshold bar and drip, hinges, screws, lock and door viewer.
Most hardware retailers and DIY stores stock door handles, and the prices reflect the quality of the product. However, the range of products can be limited, and if you have a particular style or shape in mind, or if you are looking for new ideas, your style could be cramped. One of the alternatives is the architectural hardware supplier, these retailers carry a large range of products, which as the name suggests are used by the architect. The downside here is the cost, this is because they specialise in this type of product, and need to carry a vast stock, as well as produce reference catalogues for the items provided. An alternative would be the Online Supplier, who may not necessarily have a high street outlet, provide an online shop or catalogue. The good thing here is that their range of products often extends beyond different types of door handles, providing a range of other matching accessories, such as cupboard and cabinet handles, door stops, escutcheons, hinges, latches, locks, cylinders and coat hangers. This option would allow you to choose a range of matching products that would create a style that could be carried through the whole house, at a very respectable price.
By simply replacing your existing door handles the look of the door could be transformed, and the wonderful thing is that it is probably one of the easiest DIY jobs that you can undertake! That said, there are some pitfalls even with such a simple procedure, which can ruin your desired effect. These are often simple things that the DIY enthusiast may not know about, but to the trained eye sticks out like a sore thumb. So here are some simple rules to follow when fitting new handles.
Always make sure that:
- The body of the handle is correctly aligned, so that the spindle is horizontal.
- Both handles are fixed at the same height.
- Rectangular handles are fitted vertically and parallel to the door edge.
- Slotted screws are positioned so that the slots are all in the vertical position.
- Pilot holes are first made before fitting brass screws.
Talking of pitfalls, I should also mention that both locks and latches are produced in two (case) sizes, the most popular being 75mm and 63mm. Domestic properties use the 63mm, where the 75mm is mainly found in industrial and commercial properties. The reason I mention this at this point is if you decide to exchange your existing door handles for door knobs, you could find that the new door knob to be a little too close to door casing edge, resulting in trapped fingers, especially in the case of the larger diameter door knobs. To overcome this problem, 75mm latches should be fitted. Please note that this will mean making good the door’s previous spindle position.
Lock or Latch
Door handles are made for both internal and external doors, the obvious difference between them being that external doors always have a lock, so that this type of handle is larger and has a keyhole. In the main, the standard domestic internal door does not have a lock, so a keyhole is not required. Therefore, door handles for a door fitted with a mortice lock would be referred to as Lever Lock Handles, where as a set of handles designed for a mortice latch would be referred to as Lever Latch Handles.
The UPVC Option
For wooden doors with standard locks fitted, the handles all conform to standard sizes in respect to the position of the keyhole in relation to the spindle. For lever handles this does not apply, though the size of the spindle (that travels through the door) can vary in length and thickness, and do on some occasions need to be cut to length due to difference in door thicknesses.
Lever lock handles for Upvc doors are quite different to their wooden door counterpart, where a range of different handles are available. This is because the spindle, cylinder, and fixing screws are an integral part of the door mechanism, and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Before replacing these, always make a note of these three points and compare them to what is available.
The Cheaper Range
As with any range of products there is the budget range, which are mass produced and made from either lightweight pressed steel, brushed aluminium or plastic. As these are a low cost product, they are often purchased in bulk and used by contractors on refurbishment projects, or on some low cost industrial units. From my experience, some of these products are less than adequate and quickly breakdown and frequently require replacing.