Your Guide to Choosing Stylish and Secure Door Handles
The door handle is the part of your front door that you will see and interact with the most. Although there are many features and options to choose from, a well-designed door handle should be functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Follow these tips for choosing the best door handles for your front door, and learn how to find the right combination of aesthetics and security.
What Elements to Consider?
Door handles and entry gear come with a wide range of styles and options. The best way to make your selection is to use a list of elements to consider as a starting point.
Here are the essential aspects to consider when choosing a door handle set:
- Aesthetics: Overall style, handle type, materials, and finish
- Security: Lock type and lock grading
- Maintenance: Durability and ease of care
There are multiple aspects to consider when shopping for a door handle. The type of door handle (e.g., lever, knob, bar), the overall look and design, plus the materials and finishes provide limitless possibilities.
The best way to start selecting models that best fit your front door’s looks is to use your house’s overall architectural style as your guide. Consider your house’s theme, color scheme, and your other doors’ handles.
For example, if your home follows a rustic or traditional style with curves, installing a modern, angular, or contemporary-looking door handle may clash with your home’s overall style and look out of place.
The color scheme is another essential aspect of your door handle’s style. If you prefer doors and door handles with matching colors across the entire house, a front door handle that looks noticeably different from the rest might not be the best choice.
Door handle type
The two most common types of door handles are rotating knobs and levers. Each type has its pros and cons in style and functionality.
Door knobs have a traditional aesthetic and fit better with classic architectural styles like Colonial. They are also safer for houses with pets because it is much harder for them to operate a rotating knob.
Door levers are more recent and are most commonly available in modern-looking finishes. They fit houses with an updated, contemporary appearance. They are an excellent fit for homeowners with children or elderly or disabled residents because they find levers easier to operate.
Materials and finishes
Most door handles employ metal materials, and the most common is stainless steel. Contemporary designs may use aluminum, zinc alloys (e.g., Zamak), or plastic as a replacement for steel, whereas more traditional and rustic doors might feature wrought iron, brass, or bronze. Alternatives to metal include plastic, timber, fiberboard, or even glass.
Many homeowners use other elements and fixtures on their doors, such as the hinges, as a guide for choosing the best door handle materials. For example, if your front door prominently features brass hinges and decorations, the natural choice is a brass door handle.
Although the color and look of your door handle’s materials are important considerations, don’t forget to look at its other properties and characteristics.
The best choice depends on your preferences and your environment. For example, if you live in a humid climate, you may prefer rust-proof, water-resistant door handles that won’t degrade when exposed to the elements.
Security Features of a Door Handle
Front doors are entry points for your house. They differ from interior doors in that they have to provide at least a basic level of security. Unlike aesthetic features, it is critical to consider functionality above all else, especially if you are most concerned about keeping your front door secure.
The two primary aspects of functionality to consider are the lock type and grading.
Most door handle locks fall into two broad categories: Mechanical and electronic. Typically, selecting a mechanical lock offers you more visually appealing options, whereas an electronic lock provides better security.
The most common mechanical locks include knob and lever locks, cylinder locks (single and double), mortise locks, and European-style cylinder locks. If you’re considering installing a door handle set with a mechanical lock, look for additional security and tamper-proofing features, such as a deadbolt, anti-drilling cylinders, and mechanisms resistant to picking or bump keys.
Electronic locks include smartphone-activated locking systems, keypad locks, fingerprint readers, retinal scanners, magnetic keycard readers, and many more solutions. Although there are little to no aesthetic options (few models let you choose different colors), electronic locks offer many advantages, such as keyless entry, higher durability and resistance to wear and tear, and an unmatched level of security.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) have developed a grading system for locks and door hardware, backed by a wide array of quality control tests. When looking for a secure door handle, verify that it is ANSI/BHMA grade.
There are three levels under the ANSI/BHMA grading system: Grade 1, 2, and 3. Although Grade 1 is the highest and represents the most secure hardware, a Grade 3 lock isn’t poor quality; it simply means it has passed the BHMA’s minimum quality standards. Another way to understand the grading system is with Good, Better, Best.
The best grade for your door handle set depends primarily on your environment. For example, a home in a rural area may not require more than Grade 3 to provide acceptable security. In contrast, an apartment in a busy urban setting or a commercial building may benefit from a Grade 2 or Grade 1 lock.
Care and Maintenance
Although door handle maintenance is often overlooked, keeping them in the best shape possible is critical to preserve their look and functionality. Although all door hardware requires maintenance, each combination of door handle type, materials, and features requires its own care routine.
For example, a lever-type handle requires more frequent maintenance than a knob-type handle because it contains more moving parts (springs). Any additional mechanical elements, such as the lock or the deadbolt system, should be regularly maintained and tested.
The handle’s materials also determine the type of cleaning agents you need. For instance, the best way to clean a stainless steel handle is to use a microfiber cloth and as much soap and water as needed. Whereas, disinfectant wipes and a dry cloth are sufficient for a fiberboard door handle.
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