Selecting the correct door knob and lockset for your home is a decision you’ll have to make when replacing, installing new or upgrading your door hardware. You’ll be choosing the type of doorknob style you want and the appropriate lockset mechanism for your needs. The type of lockset you select will be based on the security function you want the door hardware to perform.
Although you may expect the doorknob to be a round or square knob, it may not be a knob at all. It may be a “lever handle” or it may be a “handleset” which is a combination thumb latch / handle used on exterior entry doors. Lever handles are easier to grab than doorknobs and are an approved operating device meeting handicap ADA Barrier Free / Accessible Design requirements. Doorknobs are not approved for this use because they require tight grasping, tight pinching or twisting of the wrist to operate. Although ADA compliance is required in commercial construction and not necessarily required in your home, these Accessible Design standards are still useful if a wheelchair bound person lives in or visits your home.
In any case, lever handles make it easier to open a door, especially for folks with arthritis. Personally I like the looks of lever handle door hardware and have lever handles in my home just for the style and convenience of use. I love them.
Also worth noting are the different ways the doorknob attach to the lockset. On older style door hardware the doorknob is attached using an exposed set-screw that fastens the knob to a square threaded spindle. When turned, the square spindle rotated and operated the latch mechanism. The downside to this style of attachment (besides the unsightly set-screw) is that the set-screw style doorknob often becomes loose and may end up spinning in your hand.
The currently popular method of attaching a doorknob to the lockset mechanism uses no screw at all, but rather a concealed device called a detent. This type of ”no-screw” doorknob is easily removed using a special technique.
There are an infinite variety of finishes and designs of locksets but they all come down to four basic types:
- Passage Lockset (no lock)
This type is used for general passage room access doors, closets, hallways. Neither knob is lockable and both turn freely.
- Privacy Lockset (keyless lock mechanism)
This type of lockset is used for access to rooms that need privacy such as some bedrooms and bathrooms. The privacy side is lockable by a turn button that turns a lock mechanism. There is a small hole in the knob on the other side of the lockset that allows use of a small emergency key to open the door if necessary.
- Keyed Entrance Lockset (keyed locking mechanism)
This type of lockset is lockable on both sides and can be used with interior or exterior applications. It may be locked or unlocked by using a key on the outside or from the inside by using the turn button.
- Dummy (non-functional)
This last type is essentially just a handle and does not turn or activate any type of locking or latching mechanism.