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The Different Types of Door Knobs and Handles

The Different Types of Door Knobs and Handles

Door knobs and door handles offer a functional purpose in our homes, keeping us safe inside while also offering privacy to create a bathroom retreat. They can also add the finishing touch and provide a sense of style, adorning French double doors and main entrances. However, do you know the difference between a single and dummy door knob or handle? Or a passage door versus a privacy door? If not, that’s okay! Van Dyke’s Restorers is here to unlock the mysteries of door knobs and handles.   

From timeless mortise styles to exterior entry sets, here are the many different types of door knobs and door handles to consider for your home. With this guide, you can plan your home restoration right down to the door hardware. 

Common Interior Door Knobs and Door Handles

Common Interior Door Knobs and Door Handles

Interior door knobs and door handles offer a sense of privacy, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms, but they can also provide a decorative design that matches the rest of the house. Here are the many common interior door knobs and door handles available for you to choose from to complete your restoration or build a period-style home. 

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Privacy Door Knobs

Privacy door knobs and door handles can always be found on bedroom and bathroom doors, offering complete privacy with the ability to lock the door. With lock control mechanisms on the inside of the door, it offers a simple operation with a button you push in and out or a small knob you turn sideways. Often, this type of privacy hardware can be unlocked merely by turning the knob, creating an auto-release function. Or, you can turn the knob back to its original position. 

Privacy door knobs also have a safety feature, allowing them to be unlocked from outside the bathroom or bedroom with a long, thin generic key (or stick-like item). Sticking the key into the lock release pin hole, you can enter the space if needed. As an extra precaution, parents often keep the small key tucked above the door frame ledge in case a child accidentally locks themselves inside. 

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Passage Door Knobs and Handles

Without any locking mechanism, passage door knobs and handles are intended for areas inside the home that don’t require privacy. This area could be anything from a hallway closet to kitchen cabinets and pantries. 

Passage Door Knob

Designed with a simple latch that can be turned as you rotate the knob or handle, they are similar to dummy style knobs, but with one key difference: Passage door knobs only lack a lock, whereas dummy door knobs are stationary and don’t even turn. 

Passage door knobs and handles also come in a variety of styles, complete with decorative glass knobs and handles, along with ornately casted metal pieces.   

Find The Perfect Passage Door Knob for Your Home Restoration

Single and Double Dummy Door Knobs and Handles

Dummy door knobs are designed as a decorative mock-up to give a consistent look throughout the home. However, as the name implies, they don’t have any functional purpose or lock for privacy. 

Dummy door knobs come in two styles: single and double. A single dummy is essentially a single door knob, handle or lever intended to be mounted on only one side of the door, where it will be seen. A double dummy door knob means that it has a matching set of knobs or handles, built to be installed and decorate a single doorway. 

How you choose to install your double dummy knob or handle may depend on the type of door. For instance, you can attach it as one unit, installed on either side of a single door. Alternatively, you can separate the unit and install them on opposing double French doors. 

Dummy knobs and handles are commonly placed on shallow pantry doors or small linen closets where a person would never enter, hence needing a knob to get out. As a second safety measure and added convenience that keeps it secure, shallow closets and pantries might also have a ball catch or magnetic catch positioned along the top of the door.

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Interior Mortise

Interior mortise door knobs and handles are typically found in older homes and offer a more traditional style. With this charming look, you might even be graced with a glass door knob. Essentially, an interior mortise style features a large rectangular lock inside the door, as opposed to the modern version that is separate from the knob. Interior mortise door knobs and handles are also paired with skeleton keys and connected to a deadbolt for privacy. 

Interior Mortise

Keep in mind that while interior mortise styles feature very secure locks compared to today’s hardware, the complete piece and mechanisms can be a challenge to install. Older models in period-style homes even had a threaded spindle, which often needs to be replaced or rethreaded. However, you can find replicas that offer an updated system. 

Keyed Entrance Door Knobs and Handles

Keyed door knobs and handles offer protection and privacy and come with a key to lock and unlock the door. Typically, these are installed on exterior doors, but they can be used on interior doors for privacy. Just be mindful and don’t lose the key! Otherwise, you will have to call a locksmith and create a replacement. 

Essentially, the interior section of a keyed entrance door knob or door handle varies by each hardware manufacturer. However, there will be a keyed cylinder on the outside and a push-button lock on the inside, which releases when the knob is turned. Some hardware manufacturers will also have a turn button on the knob, which requires you to manually unlock it. 

Where do you use a keyed entrance? Use this type of door knob or door handle on your front door and other exterior doors, as well as the door that separates the garage from the mudroom or wherever it leads into the home. Often, these doors will require the use of an additional deadbolt, especially if there are already two large holes bored into them.

Rolling Door Hardware

While it’s not necessarily a door knob or handle, rolling door hardware offers a unique and trendy way to replace interior doors. Perfect for compact spaces, rolling door hardware allows you to install sliding barn doors, opening up the floor space instead of needing to make room for a swinging door.  

If you like the idea of a sliding door, whether it’s a rustic wood panel style or a contemporary take on glass panel double doors, check out Van Dyke’s rolling door hardware kits, complete with a track, roller straps and other mounting hardware.

Sliding Barn Door Installation Tips and Tricks

Exterior Entry Sets

Exterior Entry Sets

Exterior entry sets offer your home an extra level of security and an inviting old-world charm. While there are many similarities to interior door knobs and handles, exterior entry sets offer a more heavy-duty design and multiple locking systems. Offered in both door knob and handle styles, here are the types of common exterior entry sets to choose from.   

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The most common type of exterior entry set is called a handleset. When you think of a picturesque, traditional home’s main entrance, a handleset is probably what first comes to mind. Basically, these exterior entry sets are designed with an interior-facing door knob or door handle and an accompanying matching handleset on the exterior that has both a built-in lock and a separate deadbolt. 

Ultimately, having two completely different locking mechanisms offers greater security to your home and family and offers a way to double lock your door. This exterior handleset door lock also requires you to unlock it from the outside.  

Knob Combo and Lever Combo Packs

Another type of exterior entry hardware set is the knob combo or the lever combo pack. With these styles, the deadbolt lock is connected to the door knob, handle or lever. When you turn the lock, you lock the deadbolt only, operated by a thumb-turn mechanism on the inside and unlocked with a key on the outside. 

What kind of door are these styles good for? Knob combo and lever combo packs are often used on exterior doors that don’t necessarily need a dual locking system like the front entrance. For instance, they could be installed on a garage door that transitions straight into the home, but is still guarded by another car garage gate. 

One-Piece Knob Sets and One-Piece Lever Sets

One-piece entry sets offer a consistent look to your hardware, providing a door knob or handle with a lock, all situated along the same trim piece. Similar to the handleset hardware sets, one-piece knob sets and lever sets are attached to a deadbolt, as opposed to having it separate and potentially mismatched. Furthermore, you will find that one-piece entry sets offer the same style of knob or lever on each side of the door.

Mortise Lockset

A mortise lockset is a type of entry set that is quite similar to that of the interior mortise, described in further details above. However, there is one key difference and that is that a lockset, of course, has a lock. Mortise style hardware is difficult to install, especially if there are no existing grooves and pockets already cut into the door to accommodate the lockset. If your older period-style door is already equipped and ready for a mortise lockset, it will make your restoration that much easier.  

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Exterior and Interior Packs

Exterior and interior pack entry sets each offer a lock and handle intended for their respective sides of the entry door or main front entrance. While handlesets offer an entire set of hardware, completing the front door, exterior and interior packs are sold individually, which means you will need to obtain both. 

However, this can work to your advantage, especially if you intend to create two separate and distinct styles on the home’s interior and the main front entrance. Of course, this means you need to ensure that the two sets are indeed compatible. Just make sure to check the piece’s bore hole dimensions to make sure it is prepared for standard doors.  

Extra Considerations for Door Knobs and Handles

Extra Considerations for Door Knobs and Handles

When it comes to choosing a door knob or door handle, it comes down to more than overall style and whether or not you need a lock for security or privacy. Here are some extra considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Check the hardware pieces to ensure it will work with the door thickness
  • Make sure the bore hole diameter can be covered by the new hardware set
  • Check the door knob’s required backset 
  • Verify if the bolt has a round or square corner style

Door Knobs vs. Door Handles

Can’t decide between a door knob or door handle? Besides their overall design, there are some key differences to consider. For instance, the shape of a door knob can be both round or square, while a handle can be a long vertical pull with a thumb latch or a handle you merely pull down. While this may seem like a preference in style and personal tastes, a door handle offers a more accessible-friendly design, allowing it to be easily grabbed and operated. 

This is evident in commercial buildings that require door handles for greater accessibility, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Door levers and door handles are considered ADA-compliant, when a knob is not. Unlike handles, many door knobs need a tight grip to turn and operate, which can be challenging for some individuals and even the elderly. This might be something worth considering, even if it’s just planning for the future.    

Refinish and Restore Your Period-Style Door

Now that you understand the different types of door knobs and door handles, take a look at your existing doors. Do they have an older mortise style or are they simply a dummy door knob? Whatever you have, replace it with a vintage or antique replica or update it with a more sleek, contemporary style. 

Discover All Period-Style Door Hardware from Van Dyke's

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