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The Different Types Of Door Knobs & Levers (Complete Guide)

Having the perfectly selected door knob can be the finishing touch your home needs. Installing quality door hardware (especially front door hardware) can be an inexpensive way to signal to buyers that they’re looking at a solid home, if you’re considering selling your home. The right hardware can also make you feel secure and comfortable in your home with the perfect style and functionality to fit your needs if you’re not planning to sell anytime soon.

There are many styles and finishes of door knobs and levers that can make selecting the right one for your home overwhelming. Reviewing the differences and features of different door levers and knobs can help make your selection process easier. 

This complete guide of the different types of door knobs will help you give your home the style and functionality you have been dreaming of. Once you’ve made your selection, our team at Access Residential Hardware can help you complete your purchase.

Door Knobs or Door Levers?

 Knobs tend to come in more styles than levers, including some styles exclusive to knobs. Crystal and porcelain products, for example, are only available as knobs. Knobs tend to give off a more traditional feel than levers, though there are a few rustic and traditional style levers available. Another bonus? Most knobs do not knowing the door’s handing! 

Knobs are also a great option if you have pets. Dogs are able to jump on a door and disengage the latch of a lever, and yes, cats can as well! As you can probably imagine, it is much more difficult for a pet to disengage the latch with a knob. That being said, if you have a service animal that needs to open doors, choose a lever.

If you’ve ever had your hands full while trying to open a door, you can appreciate the simplicity of a lever that doesn’t require your grip to disengage that latch. A simple push down on the lever will disengage the latch, allowing you to keep a door closed between loads or avoid putting your things down to open the door.  

The ease of opening is what also makes levers a great choice for anyone with a weak grip, arthritic hands, or a number of disabilities. With some even available with a 28 Degree Latch, levers only require a downward pressure to disengage the latch – no grip or squeeze required.

 In the end, the decision comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. With so many available styles and designs, there is certainly a knob or lever to meet your functional requirements without sacrificing your desired look.

Interior Door Knobs & Levers

Choosing your interior door handles and knobs can help you achieve the style or decorative design you were hoping for. Here are some of the most popular types of interior door knobs we carry at access residential hardware:

Passage Door Hardware 

Passage door knobs/levers provide the door latching feature without the ability to lock. This function is utilized on doors that do not need to be locked for privacy, such as on closet and basement doors. Passage hardware can also be used in conjunction with a deadbolt on exterior doors or with a thumbturn privacy lock on interior doors. They also come in a wide array of styles such as casted metal, antique, and decorative glass.

Privacy Door Hardware

Privacy door knob/levers are interior latches that have the ability to lock without requiring a key. This function is typically used for bathrooms, bedrooms, dressing rooms, and some home offices. Privacy knobs/levers work from one side by pushing a button or twisting the lock in place. They come equipped with a unique safety feature that allows them to be unlocked from the outside with a thin pin that is entered into the lock release pinhole. From the inside, the privacy door hardware works by turning the knob or lever, allowing the lock to auto-release. 

 

Dummy Door Hardware

Dummy knobs/levers are named as such because they do not have any functional latching purposes on their own. They can be used on pantries or closets that latch via a ball catch or roller latch typically located on the top of the door. Dummy hardware is surface mounted in this case and does not require any bore holes in the door. Another use for dummy hardware is to pair it with latching hardware in the case of double doors. For example, a double door entry to a house would require one keyed set and one dummy set. 

A half dummy is simply one side of the knob/lever set that is used when there is no functional need for a knob or lever on one side of the door- a single closet door with a ball catch latch, for example. Full dummy sets contain a pair of non-functional knobs/levers that can be used on both sides of one door, or on one side of two doors.

 

Rolling Door Hardware

One of the hottest trends of today in homes are rolling doors. Barn doors can open up a room and be installed easily with rolling door hardware kits, tracks, and other necessary mounting equipment. These are surface mounted and simply roll on a track to the side of the doorway. This is an excellent option if a swing door might get in the way or installing a pocket door would require moving electrical. Barn doors often utilize surface mounted flush pulls as opening/closing hardware. Privacy locks are also available. 

 

Pocket doors are also mounted on a track, but this one disappears into the wall when opened. Pocket door hardware comes in several different types that depend on the type of hardware preparation done on the door. Tubular pocket door hardware is easy to install and includes a pop-out pull on the edge for use when the door is fully recessed into the wall. This type of hardware only requires standard door preparation and also comes in dummy, passage, and privacy functions. Pocket door latches also come in a style that requires only door edge preparation, as well as a mortise lock variety that requires special door preparation. 

 

Exterior Door Knobs & Handles

Exterior door knobs and handles are just as important as interior door knobs and handles, and in some cases, more so. This is particularly true when you are taking into consideration keeping your home secure. Here’s more about the different types of exterior door knobs you might consider for your home:

 

Sideplate Locksets, Deadbolts, and Keyed Levers/Knobs

Sideplate Locksets, such as Emtek’s Delaware Keyed Style Sideplate Lockset, consist of a keyed deadbolt and knob or lever connected by a solid, decorative backplate. These are also available with two-point locks in which the knob/lever has a keyed lock in addition to the deadbolt. These are most popular for entry doors and side doors.

 

Don’t want one solid piece or have an unusual C-to-C? Using a deadbolt and knob/lever as separate pieces is yet another option. In this setup, you can choose any style deadbolt and knob/lever to create the perfectly customized combination. The knob or lever should have a passage function when paired with a deadbolt, or a keyed knob/lever for two point locking. 

Lastly, a keyed knob or lever works perfectly in doors with a single bore hole. This combination or single keyed knob/lever is popular for all home and garage doors.

 

Exterior Entry Sets

One of the first decisions to make when choosing your home’s entry set is whether you want a mortise lock set or a tubular lock set. Viewed from the front of a closed door, they may look the same, but installation, price, and security are quite different. 

Many homes have tubular entry sets. They are usually more economical and easy to install with standard door preparation. Their functionality is quite simple with two latches – handle and deadbolt - contained in “tubes” that are pushed into pockets within a door frame to latch the door. 

Mortise locks are a bit more complicated. They require specific door preparation and a professional to install them, but do boast added home security. A mortise lock involves installing the lock body – a box containing the entirety of the locking mechanisms – completely inside the door. 

With both mortise and tubular entry sets, electronic upgrades are available in a few different forms. Traditional push-button keypads exist alongside touchscreen keypads, and most of today’s options work with apps to allow locking/unlocking with a smartphone and boast the ability to store 25 or more unique entry codes. These are also often available with keyed or completely keyless options as well as battery backups.

Entry sets come in three main styles for the exterior: sectional, three quarters, and full plate. In sectional entry sets, the deadbolt is a separate piece from the handle, and the handle itself has two points of contact with the door. With the three quarters entry set, the deadbolt it located within a plate/rosette that also contains the upper handle contact point and latch. The plate stops there and does not continue to the bottom of the handle, which has its own point of contact with the door. Full plate sets, as the name suggests, have a solid plate containing the deadbolt and full length of the handle. A single design usually comes in all three options, but often under different names, such as Emtek’s Baden, Davos, and Lausanne entry sets.

Interior style can easily be customized to the door’s surroundings as you’re able to choose from a variety of knobs and levers for the interior hardware. However, you’ll need to know your door’s handing when it comes to ordering the entry set, as well as a few measurements if you plan to use it on an existing door. 

Handing describes the direction your door swings when walking into a room. If you’re walking into the house and the door swings to your left and inside the house, that is considered a left hand swing. If your door swings to the outside of the house, this is called a reverse swing or outswing, so a door that swings outside and to your left when entering the home is a left hand outswing. The depiction below can serve as an excellent guide when determining handing in your home.

 

Door Hardware Styles and Finishes

Once you have decided whether you want to go with a door knob or lever for your interior and exterior doors, it is time to decide on your style and finish. There are multiple types of door knob styles to choose from, such as:

  • Antique door knobs that look vintage or aged

  • Rustic door knobs that have a ranch or country style

  • Modern door knobs that are sleek and minimalistic

  • Classic door knobs that are easily replaced and fit for most home interior decors

There are also multiple types of door hardware finishes to choose from, so including:

  • Flat or Satin Black

  • Brushed or Satin Nickel

  • Polished Nickel

  • Satin Pewter

  • Polished Chrome

  • Oil Rubbed Bronze

  • Venetian Bronze

  • Medium Bronze Patina

  • Flat Black Bronze

  • Faceted or Hammered

  • Polished Brass

  • Satin Brass

  • Antique Brass

  • Unlacquered Brass

  • Brushed Stainless steel

Door Hardware Features to Look For

As you are considering which door knobs to go with, it is important to consider what features are most important to you. Different door knob types come with different features. Some of the ones that may catch your attention include:

How to Choose the Right Door Knob

When choosing the right door knob, there are several considerations you will want to keep in mind; door thickness, backset, C-to-C, and handing. 

The door thickness is as straightforward as it sounds, with most doors being 1-3/8” or 1-3/4” thick. The backset is simply how far the center of the bore holes are from the edge of the door where the latch will be. Common backsets are 2-⅜” and 2-¾”. When ordering a stretto, sideplate lockset, or entryset, the center-to-center length is measured from the center of the top bore hole to the center of the bottom bore hole. As discussed above, handing describes the direction your door swings and which side the hinges are on. Please note that determining handing for door hardware is not the same as handing for carpentry purposes. 

For all other door hardware questions and concerns, be sure to contact your trusted hardware professionals at Access Residential Hardware for help.

Contact Access Residential Hardware for Help Today 

As you are looking at your home's existing doors, you may now have a better idea of the style, finish, and type of door knob that may be the best fit for your home. 

Our team at Access Residential Hardware can help you with your door hardware selections, so that you can install the perfect handles and knobs for your home. We’re always available during office hours (M-F 8-5) to answer any questions you may have about hardware functionality, styles, brands, and more. You can speak with a hardware specialist by calling 866.752.9002, or filling out a contact form.