All About Doorknobs

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There are two general types of doorknob assemblies: mortise-mounted and bore-mounted.

Mortise-mounted hardware relies on a large, rectangular metal box to hold its moving parts. Because of its design, it must be installed into a hand-chiseled cavity that centers at the edge of the door between its inside and outside faces. This type of assembly is expensive to buy and install. Having said that, most mortise style door hardware is of the very highest quality and function.

During the 19th century, mortised hardware was practically the only type of door hardware available. And although mortise-mounted hardware is still in wide use, it is used most frequently on exterior doors and sometimes on interior doors in restorations. The lock actions are smoother, more secure and have several features that enhance ease of use and smooth operation.

Because of its high cost, use of mortise hardware on interior doors has yielded to the easier to install, and far less expensive purchase price, of bore-mounted hardware. Bore-mounted hardware costs less to install because drilling is used instead of chiseling. A drilled installation can literally cut hours off a mortised installation.

Doorknobs fall into the “you get what you pay for” category. Less expensive knobs are made of inexpensive materials and are susceptible to denting, scratches and other kinds of wear and tear. The knobs (or levers) are made of thinner and less expensive metals giving them a flimsy, tinny feel. And if the knob includes a key-lock, the less expensive ones can be easily opened by most amateur burglars.

If the door hardware you’re considering is under $25, chances are the finish will begin to wear off in two or three years if not sooner.

There are two basic styles of bore-mounted hardware: 1) exposed mounting screw type and, 2) the concealed mounting screw type. You can tell which type you have by looking at the escutcheon (trim ring) between the knob and the door. If you can see screw heads in one of the trim rings, you have the exposed mounting screw type. If screws are not visible, then you have the concealed mounting screw type.

In our opinion, concealed-screw hardware is better than the exposed-screw style not only because it’s better looking, but because more pressure can be applied to the concealed mounting plates that hold the doorknob in place. With exposed screw hardware, when screw pressure is applied to the trim plate to hold it tightly in place, there is a chance of bending the finished surface. Leaving the screws loose enough to prevent damage to the trim plate can result in the frequent need to retighten the hardware — a nuisance at best. For less maintenance and a cleaner appearance, concealed screw doorknob assemblies are superior.

The locking method also is an important consideration. There are two basic choices:

• Manual relock key opens latch and changes hardware to unlock position

• Auto relock key opens latch but hardware remains in locked position

The first type, manual relock, must be relocked with a key or the twist of a lever each time it is unlocked with a key. This is the best type of lockset for a bedroom or a bathroom where you don’t want to be accidentally locked out.

The auto relock type is preferred for exterior doors where you don’t want to have to remember to relock the door once you’ve let yourself into your home. This is especially true if you want a door to remain locked at all times even after you have used a key to make entry. Yes, auto relock latches can be set so that they remain unlocked after entry has occurred. You certainly don’t want to lock yourself out after having mowed the back lawn.

Most manufacturers of bore-mounted door hardware use the same two bore sizes:

• A two-and-one-eighth-inch hole is used for the handleset

• A one-inch bore is used for the bolt assembly

If you want to replace your existing door hardware with another style made by a different manufacturer, chances are you will have no problem accomplishing your goal.

And that’s all there is to it! For more home improvement tips and information, visit our web site at www.onthehouse.com or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474 (ext 59).

Tip

Adjusting a door vs. planing and sanding

Wet weather makes doors stick and bind. If you’re tired of pulling and tugging, you’re probably ready to start planing and sanding. But not so fast. Knowing why doors stick can help solve the problem quickly and easily. Doors often bind because the opening somehow shifted, moving it out of square. Usually the culprit is moisture — sometimes in the ground under your house. The wet ground expands, and part of the foundation moves up or down, creating an uneven floor. Thus, frames shift and doors bind. Often you can skip planing and sanding by simply adjusting the door hinges instead. Just pull out the hinge pins, one at a time, and bend the rungs opposite the way you want the door to move. After a little trial and error, you’ll get the idea. As months roll on and things dry out, you just bend the hinges back as needed. And that’s the On The House tip for today.

Q&A - Fixing a broken latch

Question – The door latch side of my doorframe is broken. Would you tell me how to replace it?

Answer – James locked himself into the bathroom the day of Morris’ wedding. After the festivities had ended, wife Carol discovered a shattered pocket door in the back bedroom. Later, James called and said that he had kicked the door down to get out because he had been locked in and the ceremonies were about to begin. In his nervous, anxious condition, he didn’t realize that lifting the door slightly (an eighth of an inch or so) would have released the pocket door latch and he would have been instantly freed. Isn’t it amazing what happens when our adrenaline begins to pump?

Anyway, if you can, you should try to patch the jamb (door frame). First, remove the trim piece from the door frame that travels vertically down its center. Use a razor knife to put a slit in the paint between the trim and the frame so that it can be removed without damage. One or both casings (trim molding between the door frame and the wall) also should be removed, depending on whether either would restrict the repair. With the trim removed, you can easily re-glue the damaged section or cut it out and patch it. A jigsaw is best for cutting out a damaged piece. Use lots of glue and plenty of screws or nails to connect the new piece. Remember, with the stop and the casing removed, you are simply dealing with a long, narrow, flat piece of wood that is held to the framed door opening with nails and shim-shingles. No brain surgery here. For long splits, simply glue and clamp the separated pieces. Once the patch (or clamped job) is completed, a little Bondo is all it will take to hide even the worst of connections.

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