How to Choose Entry Hardware
Entry hardware, also known as front door or entry door hardware, is the lock, handle, and mechanical assembly of a house’s exterior door. Due to their role as part of your home’s entrance and egress points, your entry hardware has different functions and purposes than your interior doors.
Choosing the right entry hardware is not just a matter of matching your home’s style and decor. It is also about finding the right balance of security and functionality. Follow these tips to choose the best entry hardware for your home and get the perfect combination of form and functionality.
Elements of an Entry Hardware Set
Entry hardware is door hardware specifically designed for your home’s entry doorways, such as the front door or the back door.
There are general-purpose hardware sets that you can fit on interior and exterior doors. However, they may not possess the features you need to make your entry points secure.
Entry hardware must fulfill two primary purposes. First, it must provide your entry points with adequate levels of security. Second, it should match your door, and generally speaking, your house’s style. Although the aesthetic aspect of your entry hardware is up to personal preferences, there are many practical considerations to keep in mind.
The entry hardware’s security elements are the locking mechanism and the door handle or knob. There are multiple types of security mechanisms and systems, each with varying levels of security and convenience. Choosing the most secure sets may protect you from more advanced illegal entry methods, but they may also make legitimate entry more challenging or inconvenient.
The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), in association with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has devised multiple security and functionality testing protocols. These test the quality and security of a locking mechanism.
If you see a lock with an ANSI/BHMA certification, it means it has passed these testing protocols. ANSI/BHMA-rated hardware is certified resistant to brute-force attempts, lock picking, bump keys, general wear and tear, and other forms of abuse.
There are three ANSI/BHMA grades, which the organization recommends be viewed as good, better, best:
- Grade 3 door locks provide a good level of security for most homes and residential units.
- Grade 2 door locks offer advanced protection against picking and bumping attacks, ideal for residences requiring a high level of security.
- Grade 1 door locks offer the highest level of security against forced entry or picking and are considered bump-proof. This level is recommended for high-traffic residential or commercial units.
While a Grade 1 lock is more durable and resistant to lock-picking than a Grade 3 lock, the rating you choose should match the potential threat level. Generally, the higher the traffic level to your front door, the more secure the entry hardware should be.
Door handle and lock sets
Although entry door handle and lock sets come in many shapes and forms, you can categorize most of them into four groups: Handles, knobs, levers, and mortise locks.
- Handles: The simplest type of lockset includes a fixed handle and locking mechanism as a single unit.
- Knobs: Rotating knobs are round or cylindrical handles. On entry doors, knob sets typically integrate the locking mechanism within the knob’s center.
- Levers: Another common lockset is the rotating door lever, featuring an elongated handlebar. The locking system may be integrated into the lever or placed separately.
- Mortise sets: In appearance, a mortise set resembles a standard knob unit. However, the primary internal difference is the location of the locking system. Instead of being part of the lock and handle unit, the mechanisms are embedded directly into the door, into a specially cut pocket. This set type usually requires professional installation.
Traditional door lock and key mechanisms are referred to as keyed locks, meaning they possess a standard tumbler lock, opened using a mechanical key. Keyed entry is, by far, the most ubiquitous locking mechanism for entry doors worldwide.
Many keyed entry systems employ deadbolts instead of the standard latch system. Deadbolt locks are more secure than standard keyed locks because their mechanism is more resistant to common forms of tampering, such as jimmying.
However, mechanical locks are a well-known and well-understood technology that can be vulnerable to a determined burglar with a lock-picking kit. If you’re looking for additional security, you may need a keyless entry system.
Keyless entry systems are separated into two sub-categories: Keypad locks and smart locks.
A keypad lock is an electronic locking system with a keypad (either buttons or touchscreen) and an indicator system (LEDs, beeper, or digital display). Instead of using a key, you need to type in the correct passcode to enter. Keypad lock owners should treat the passcode like any other password and change it regularly.
Smart locks are the most modern locking mechanism available for entry doors. This type of electronic lock typically features a wireless receiver capable of communicating with another device, such as a keycard, an RFID chip, or even your smartphone via Wi-Fi.
This locking system is convenient because it eliminates keys and passcodes while keeping your entry points secure.
Style and Appearance
Once you know what mechanism and security level your entry hardware should feature, you can think about matching it to your home’s style and appearance.
Most homeowners typically match the finish with other metal elements—for example, a brass door lever to match other brass fixtures. However, there is a wide array of materials to consider, each with its own aesthetic traits and material characteristics.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Stainless steel is one of the most common choices. The silver-colored finish not only pairs well with many colors and textures, but it is also naturally rust-proof, making it ideal for exterior use.
- Zinc is a popular alternative to stainless steel, possessing similar durability and rust-proof characteristics but available in a wider variety of colors.
- Anodized black hardware is made of aluminum and pairs well with dark or minimalistic motifs. Like zinc and stainless steel, aluminum is rust-proof, making it an ideal choice for outdoor hardware.
- Polished brass appears yellow or golden-colored, making it an excellent choice for entry hardware with traditional doors or rustic themes. However, ensure you select hardware designed for outdoor use, as some brass hardware may tarnish.
- Pewter is an alloy of tin, antimony, and copper, with a silvery-gray color and a naturally rustic appearance. Pewter hardware is ideal for achieving a traditional look with a silver-colored metal.
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