All About Door Locksets
Choose from a couple of basic kinds of door locksets
By Vance Holloman
Door locksets can range from simple aluminum knobs in a polished-brass finish to exotically shaped knobs made from solid brass with a hand-applied oil-rubbed finish. Regardless of fit, finish or price, all locksets are designed to do one thing: keep doors shut when desired and allow easy passage when needed. Regardless of style or price, all door handles work basically the same way. When shopping for locksets, keep in mind they may also be called "handle sets," "lever sets" or "door locks." For lock sets that require a key to operate, look for the term "keyed entry."
Types of Handlesets
Handlesets come in two versions, with the surface mount being by far the most popular and usually the only lockset in stock at most retail and specialty stores. Mortised door handles have the body of the lock inserted in a notch or mortise in the side of the door. For the notched insertion, the square or rectangular body of the lock can be seen from both faces and the side of the door. On a mortise installation, the body of the lock is only seen from the side of the door, with only the handles visible from the faces of the door.
Deadbolts sit above the door handle and provide stronger protection than a door handle by sliding a bolt into the door jamb. Door locks, by comparison, rely on a door strike the has a limited range of motion and may only engage the door jamb by 1/4 inch or less. They are usually round, although sometimes they can be square to match Gothic- or Japanese-style door hardware, and may be operated by a key on both sides or a key on the exterior side and a lever on the interior.
Ball catch: This type of lock is installed in the top of the door and consists of a spring-loaded ball in a cylindrical tube. When the door is shut, the ball is forced down by the edge of the jamb and pops back up into a mortised hole in the jamb to keep the door shut.Door latch: The cylindrical interior of the door lock, the latch is operated by the spindle, causing the door strike to move in or out.Door strike: The end piece of the door latch, the strike is often referred to as the door latch because it is the part that protrudes into the door jamb to keep the door shut.Dummy: These inoperable handles are often placed on double doors that utilize ball catches.Keyed entry: These door handles are designed for exterior-entry doors to houses and building. They typically have a thumb lever on the inside and a keyed lock on the exterior, although both sides may require a key. Knob: A round or oblong type of handle that operates the door lock.Latch plate: The metal plate on the side of the door that secures the door latch in place.Lever: A type of handleset that consists of a straight--or more commonly--curved lever that operates the door lock.Passage: Refers to a door handle that cannot be locked. These are usually installed on closet doors or doors from public rooms to other public rooms such as between a dining and living room.Privacy: Refers to a door handle that can be locked without a key. These install on bath and bedroom doors or anywhere else privacy may be desired. They operate by pushing a locking button or lever or by turning a thumb lever.Rosette: This round piece covers the base of the door handle.Spindle: This round or square tube extends from one side of the door handle to the other, passing through the door latch. The spindle causes the latch to open or close the door strike.Strike plate: This piece of metal is placed on the door jamb opposite the door strike to receive the door strike. This can also be called a "keeper."
The handles are attached to a spindle, which passes through a hole in the door latch. When a handle is turned, it causes the latch to retract the door strike, allowing the door to open. When the door handles are in their natural position, the strike will be extended, and the flat backside of the strike will rest against the strike plate and not allow the door to be opened without turning the door knob. The front side of the door strike is rounded, so that when the door is swung shut and the strike hits the edge of the strike plate, the strike will retract into the door enough to allow the door to shut. Once the strike reaches the hole in the middle of the strike plate, the strike will extend out from the door and into the hole. For deadbolts, turning the key or thumb latch slides the bolt into the jamb until it is fully extended. This bolt is thicker than the strike and it extends into the jamb by an inch or so, making it much harder to kick open.
On entry doors, consider using dead bolts and handle sets that require a key to operate either side of the door, especially if the door has any glass panes. It is a common practice for thieves to smash a pane of glass and then insert a hand and open the lock using the thumb lever. Solid brass locksets are heavier, work better and last longer. They also cost more than locksets made of aluminum or tin. Lever handles are often easier for the elderly or people with arthritis to grasp and operate. Lever handles are easier for toddlers to operate. The available child locks for leversets are large and bulky and have to be stuck to the door with a special adhesive tape. Removing them can damage the finish on the door.
About the Author
Vance Holloman is a residential contractor; his writing is based on two decades in the construction industry.
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