Choosing a front door for your home or an entry door for your business are big decisions with a surprising number of options. Not only can you choose from a wide variety of door materials, styles, and designs, but you also have your pick of door hardware to add the finishing touches. Door hardware in the form of handles and locks are an important part of the design because the provide both convenience and security for the users.
We've all dealt with a poorly designed door featuring handles that are difficult to grasp, latches that stick instead of opening, and hardware that clips your hip as you walk by every time. You can do yourself a huge favour by taking a moment and asking a few questions before choosing your entry door handles and locks. Door hardware is an important choice. Let us help you make the right one so that your door will be a joy to use day in and day out.
Here are the top eleven questions every door designer should ask themselves about selecting the right hardware:
1. Who Will Be Using the Door?
The people who use the door will naturally have the most to say about how the door is designed. Designing a front door for your home, you should consider the preferences of your family and ease of access for both residents and guests. You want a door handle that opens easily, even if your arms are full of groceries. If you have young children, you might want a door handle lower to the ground or easier for little hands to grasp. Or if it's just you to consider, pick your favourites and don't worry about anyone else.
Designing a door for your business is a little more complicated. Take a moment to consider your employees. How easy it will be to open and to close each day, whether the door will be used to bring in boxes, and whether it should be welcoming to customers to come and go as well.
2. How Much Glass is In the Door Design?
Interestingly, the amount of glass in your door can determine the type of door handles and locks that can be used. A completely glass door will need a deep bezel (the rectangle of door material around the glass) to support a classic handle or you will need something more like a latch bar that goes across horizontally, mounting at the narrow bezel on either side.
For doors with less glass or only artful panels of glass, you have a much freer choice for dor hardware. Understandably, hardware cannot be mounted on glass but you can have glass directly adjacent to door hardware as long as the door structure stays intact.
3. What is the Best Colour and Style to Compliment the Door?
Your door has a style. Every door does. Even the blandest of front doors or commercial doors has a colour, a shape, and design elements. And there's nothing that says your door hardware can't make your door more beautiful. The style of your home decor or company brand should play a part as well as, of course, the style of the door itself.
Consider the colour of the door to decide the material and finish of the door handle that will look best. Consider the shapes and design elements of the door to choose the style of door handles and locks that would look best. A modern geometric door may look better with a more squared-off style of door handle, for example, while a classic heritage design might look best with a classic rounded lever or even knob handle.
4. Do You Know Someone Who is Doorknob Accident-Prone?
Some people are more accident-prone than others, and this shows up in a variety of ways. Some people trip a lot, some clumsy people knock stuff off tables, and some people keep clipping doorknobs with their hips no matter how hard they try not to. With this affliction, doorknobs often cause bruises and levers tend to hook clothes to disastrous effect. If this is you (or someone you live/work with) then you can make life a whole lot easier with a smart choice of door hardware.
To reduce knob-shaped hip bruises, try choosing a doorknob or lever that doesn't stick out very far from the door. Choose a rounded egg-shaped design that minimised impacts and encourages hits to slide off the knob rather than bruising flesh or catching clothing. Smooth sloping handles will significantly reduce the chances that you, people you know, and future guests will clip themselves painfully or embarrassingly on the handles of your new door.
5. How Heavy is the Door When Opened?
Door weight matters a lot when picking a handle. A heavy door needs a lot more leverage to get open, while a light door might fly open at a touch with a too-effective handle. Heavy doors need particularly careful handle selection because the handle will determine how easy the door is to push or pull to open or close. The heavier the door, the more important your handle decision will be to determine ease of use.
Doorknobs have the least leverage and are falling out of fashion with entry doors as a result. Knobs can be classic and attractive, but they require a twist-and-pull action that's not easy for everyone and provides zero extra leverage for a heavy door.
Door lever handles are the most popular kind of handle right now and come in a wide variety of stylistic designs from ornate heritage to sci-fi modern. Lever handles are easy to open with your hands full, easy for children to open, and provide some additional leverage for opening (and closing) a heavy door.
Pull handles are the best for leverage, particularly the type featuring a long vertical bar anchored at both ends. The bar gives you the most leverage to haul or push open a heavy door but the latching mechanism may be different for each one.
6. Will the Door Frequently be Opened with Hands Full?
How the door is used regularly should also determine what kind of door handle you choose. If this is the door you'll be using when you come in holding bags of groceries, you'll want a handle that is easier to manage practically hands-free. For businesses, a door where employees will be coming and going with cargo or supplies in hand should also be easier to open with a quick-release handle while the door is unlocked.
In these cases, you likely want a lever handle or a classic entry door handle with a latch-button at the top. These are both easier to open with the press of an elbow or the side of your hand even if hands are full when coming through the door.
Back doors and side doors, on the other hand, have a wider selection of handles when you're not worried about opening the door with an elbow from time to time.
7. Is This a Cargo Door?
Another similar question is whether or not your door will be used to bring in cargo. For a home or business, regular large box deliveries can put a real damper on fancy (spiky) front doors. A sharp-pointed handle that sticks out or a curvy entry door lever are bad news if they'll be clipping hips and boxes every time someone comes through with a large load of cargo.
For doors that will be used for cargo incoming or outgoing, consider a more close-in design so that the handle does not stick far out from the door. This will give you the most clearance space to get by. Also, consider smooth rounded designs so that there are no corners or details for clothing or boxes to catch on when sliding by with the door propped open.
8. Does This Door Need to be Handicap Accessible?
Handicap accessibility is not something most people think of when designing a door, but door design is one of the key elements of creating an accessible home or business. People who use wheelchairs, crutches, or braces to get around often struggle with doors, especially doors that are heavy or difficult to open. Wheelchairs make it highly challenging to twist a knob and push through the door at the same time and crutches are very much like having one's hands full 100% of the time. If there are handicapped people coming through your door, or you'd like your door to be handicap-welcoming, then these considerations are worthwhile.
In addition to automated door features that you might choose to install, a few simple changes can make a door much more handicap accessible. Lever-handles, for example, are easier to manage with any kind of physical limitation. Setting your handles lower to the ground can also make them more accessible for people in wheelchairs and those who are shorter than average for medical reasons.
9. How Secure Does the Lock Need to Be?
Security is another major concern of door handle selection. Some designs of door handle and lock are more secure than others, but what really matters is the deadbolt. Many businesses have incredibly accessible handles including levers and push-bars but when the deadbolt is turned, that's that.
To have a strong deadbolt, you need a good latch infrastructure, a strong door, and a reinforced doorframe that cannot be pried loose with a crowbar. This will ensure that when the door is locked, no one unwanted can get in. Of course, deadbolt security may not be your only concern.
There are some situations where you will want the door latch to be secure in addition to the deadbolt. When you need a door to stay firmly closed when it's closed, or to lock at the handle in addition to the bolt without being easily unlocked. If you need the normal handle latch to be secure for, say, keeping toddlers inside; then you're looking for a door handle that latches firmly and possibly has a handle-lock in addition to the deadbolt.
10. Is Your Doorframe Up to the Task of Deadbolt Locking?
Speaking of the deadbolt, it's not just the bolt that matters. It's also the door and frame you mount the deadbolt into. A lock is only as good as the material around it. A door that breaks apart around a deadbolt isn't doing you any good. Fortunately, entry doors are designed to resist any kind of brute force attack, but your door frame might not be.
Residential door frames, in particular, are often made of wood that separates and ages over time. If your wooden doorframe can be cracked with a pry bar, then it is not secure enough to make your new entry door safe. In this case, you'll want to have your door frame reinforced and installing a new entry door is the perfect time to do this. Consider bolts with long screws that attach all the way into the door structure beam reinforcing your frame so the wood immediately around the door is of equal strength to the frame of the house itself.
Choosing the right hardware for your new entry door involves more detail than most people realise. The right choice seems trivial until you realise that every door opening and closing, every box hauled through the door, every hip that bumps the knob will be better when the hardware suits your door and its uses perfectly. By asking yourself these questions and working with your door provider can help you choose the ideal handle for your new door. If you'd like more information about choosing the right door handle or personal guidance on making the right choice for your new door, contact us today!