How To Select The Proper Door Knob
The announcer introduced the program as “On The House” and then us as “The Carey Brothers”, and in the moments to follow our brand spanking new Saturday morning home improvement radio talk show would be on its way to broadcast infamy – or would it?
We were new at it, but eager. And we wanted to help. A caller wanted to know how to install a doorknob. “Why in heavens name did you bother calling us?” we said, “Any dummy can change a doorknob!” Although the caller had been unfairly chastised for his rather good question he did finally get an answer. You have no idea how many times we have ribbed each other for the stupid things that we did in the beginning.
So, how you ask, could all of this completely useless history about talk radio have anything to do with a home improvement newspaper column? Simple. We decided to pick up where we left off 16 years ago, kick it up a notch and talk about SELECTING a doorknob. Actually, there’s a lot to know.
In addition to the good old-fashioned deadbolt there are four basic types of doorknobs (or levers if that’s where your taste lies):
- Passage hardware is primarily used where a lock is not needed. This could be a hall door, the door between the kitchen and dining area or a secondary bedroom where it would be dangerous for a child to be locked in.
- Privacy hardware is the opposite of passage hardware. Privacy hardware has a lock built in. We commonly see privacy hardware on the master bedroom door, on a bathroom door and on the side door of the garage. A privacy lock is designed to be unlocked from the inside the room it protects, but also can be unlocked from outside the room with a small screwdriver.
- Keyed hardware is like privacy hardware except that it can only be unlocked from the outside with a key. Although we commonly see keyed doorknobs on exterior doors, they are often used on sheds and gates for added security, or on the inside of the home, on a closet for example, to prevent access to firearms and the like.
- Dummy hardware is the kind we personally use. It fits our personalities. Just kidding. Dummy hardware is there for looks. It doesn’t do anything. When you have double doors chances are the “inactive” door has a dummy on it to match the latch side. Dummy knobs also are used on doors where a latch exists at some location other than at the knob.
Door hardware all looks alike when it’s new – bright and shiny. However, with less expensive doorknobs the finish doesn’t last. Oh, and the key lock system in cheaper locks can be opened by an adolescent with a hairpin. Key-lock systems are available in 5- and 6-pin configurations. A 6-pin lock is harder to pick than a 5 pin. Hey, why make it easy for the crooks?
The building code requires deadbolts (with a one-inch throw) at all exterior doors. Our Uncle Omar and Aunt Marie added a Florida room (glassed in room addition) to their home. Uncle Omar added a deadbolt with operated be a key on both sides (double cylinder deadbolt). He figured that even if someone broke the glass in the door they wouldn’t be able to get the door open. When we last visited their home we made sure that they knew that double cylinder deadbolts have a disadvantage too. We told them that a person could not escape with the bolt locked – without a key in hand. Then we posed the question. Ever try putting a key into a lock with a fire raging behind you? We also live by the philosophy that locks are for honest people. If a thief wants to get in a glass door won’t keep him/her out. When is a double cylinder lock safe? We don’t know.
By the way, the answer to the question 16 years ago was: remove the two screws that hold in the latch bolt. Next, remove the two screws that hold the knobs together. Pull the knobs apart and then remove the latch bolt assembly. Replace the new hardware in reverse order. The strike-plate (the metal plate on the door frame) can be reused or can be replace by removing an additional pair of screws, replacing the plate and re-inserting the removed screws. This process is the same for about 75 percent of doorknobs in the USA. Regardless of whether the hardware has a knob or a lever.
Note: When installing lever hardware one must often lower the handle in order to easily access the screw to the inside of the door. And that truly is…all there is to it.