s Everything You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Door Hardware - The Kim Six Fix
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Everything You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Door Hardware

How to replace door hardware
When we bought this house, the entire thing was a sea of brass and golden oak.  I’ve talked about the struggle to update this early 80’s look in lots of posts before and today is yet another step in my journey to rid myself of the shiny gold hardware that was so popular 30 years ago.

 Not only was the gold out of style, but the handles themselves weren’t even in very good shape.
Chipped up door handle

As a temporary fix I spray painted my medicine cabinet and the front door hardware brushed nickel and it actually held up remarkably well:
Spray painted

I also updated some of the knobs with oil rubbed bronze to see if I liked that look better, which I did. The ORB definitely didn’t hold up as well as the brushed nickel did, but neither of them was the perfect fix.
Door hardware spray painted
I knew eventually I was going to have to do something more permanent.. since I just couldn’t stand looking at a hallway full of shiny gold knobs!
Gold handles before
So when I finally had the money saved up, I bit the bullet and decided to replace ALL the hardware in my house with black lever handles.  (I decided on black because it was true neutral. Some of my bathrooms have chrome, others have brushed nickel and the kitchen has oil rubbed bronze.  I don’t have matching finishes, so I may as well go simple.

The design I chose was Kwickset Commonwealth from Handlesets.com
Kwikset commonwealth 514 passage lhI chose them for a couple of reasons:
1. They were relatively inexpensive ($28/passage door and $31/privacy lock)

2. They came in black. (Many brands only had a really dark oil rubbed bronze)

3. The standard handles have reversible handles, meaning you don’t need to know which direction your door swings to order the correct type. (More about this below)

4. They offered mix and match finishes for exterior doors. (I needed to NOT use black on my exterior hardware because my front door had been recently painted black.  I chose the Quickset Hawthhorne for my front door in Satin Nickel) Kwikset hawthorne 15 smartkey
You may remember I showed you this handleset when I had my front door reveal a while ago  Front door before and afterWhat you didn’t know was that I also replaced the interior hardware on that door to the new black lever handles as well:
Front door interior hardware
The process of replacing your door hardware is a little more complicated than it first appears.  Mostly ordering the correct items and making sure you have the right sets for each door.  s
I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of what you need to know if you want to tackle doing it.

Types of Handles:

There are actually a few types of door handles you can buy:

Passage:  This is standard door handle with no lock. Used on unlockable doors (bedrooms and offices)and closets.

Privacy:  This is a lockable handle (usually with a turnable knob or button)  that can be ‘popped’ from the outside using a special tool  (so you cannot lock yourself out.) They are used on any room where you don’t want someone to enter such as bathrooms and bedroom, but it is not highly secure.

Dummy handles: These handles are decorative and do not turn or actually include a cylinder that goes through the door to a latch.  They are also used on doors where you do not require an interior handle (shallow closets which are held closed with a magnet for example.) They are also used on one side of double/french doors sets for aesthetic reasons.

Keyed Entrance Standard Knob: This is usually for an exterior door and requires a key on one or both sides of the door in order to lock and unlock it.  It may also be accompanied by a dead bolt for additional security.  Standard keyed handles are typically used on secondary exterior doors (like garages or backdoors) since they are not highly decorative.

Deadbolts: These are the separate locks that are keyed on one or both sides.  They are the most secure way of locking a (typically exterior) door and can be used alone or in conjunction with a keyed entry handle.

Entrance sets: These are are often ornate exterior door handles (versus a regular knob) with a separate deadbolt.  They may or may not also lock on the handle itself.  They are typically ordered as an exterior handle set with a separate interior door handle that matches the rest of your interior hardware.

Keyless entry sets: These are electronic locks which don’t require a key but can be opened by typing a key code into a touchpad on the door or handle.


When ordering non-locking standard door knobs, the direction the door opens is not important.  You can install a door knob on either the right, left, front or back of a door.  However, when ordering lever handles or handle sets or any handle that locks, you need to know which side of the door you are going to install the hardware so the handle faces the right direction  (trust me.. I originally installed all my hardware upside down since I wasn’t paying attention to the directionality of the doors:
 New handles
Notice that the handles are upside down?  Neither did I.. at first.
Here is another example where the doorknob is upside down:

Kids with door before and after

And here it is installed correctly:  Replacing door hardware
The direction the door swings and which side the handle is on is called the “handedness” or “handing.

When ordering you need to indicate if a handle will be “left hand” or “right hand.”  Because you can’t tell my just looking at a closed door (since a handle on the right side of the door in one direction is on the left side from the other.)

 The trick is to open the door (assuming the door swings inwards.. like most interior doors) and stand inside the door frame with your back to the hinges and facing the strike plate.  IF THE OPEN DOOR IS ON YOUR LEFT (remember it will be behind you) IT IS LEFT HANDED DOOR.  IF IT IS ON YOUR RIGHT IT IS RIGHT HANDED.   That is unless the door swings outwards. (Exterior doors and closets typically swing outward) and in that case the handing is the opposite. 

Confusing enough?   Yeah. I agree.
Handing illI used this chart to help me figure it out when I was walking around my house making a shopping list and I still installed them backwards the first time!

In the case of my double doors, you have the perfect example of why door handing is so important.
Two handled doorThis door set actually required 3 separate handles.  A right hand passage handle (for the right side.. which is the side that latches) and then one left hand and one right hand dummy handle (for front and back of the left door.)

Here at the doors in the upstairs hallway after they had been replaced. Door handles after You can see how the doors don’t all swing the same way. One of the reasons I didn’t order privacy locks for those rooms (along with the fact I don’t want my kids locking me out) is that you don’t have to worry about handing if you use reversible passage handles.


I mentioned it before, but here is how my costs broke down (not including hinges, since I haven’t replaced the hinges yet).  We have a 3 bedroom, 3 bath house with a two sets of double doors. We have only two handled exterior doors (front and garage- our back door is a slider).  Only our hall closets required handles since our room closets are sliding doors.    So for our house, in total I needed 17 sets of door handles.  If you have a much larger house, or closet doors which require handles, your costs could be significantly higher.

9 Passage Doors: $28/each = $253
3 Privacy Doors (Bathrooms Only) :$31/each = $96
4 Dummy Levers (for 2 double doors) : $14/each = $56
1 Deadbolts (for garage doors): $33
1 Interior Keyable Handle (for front door): $31
1 Exterior Keyable Handleset (for front door): $116
TOTAL COST (without tax): $583

Other stuff you need to keep in mind:

How thick your door is:  This is only a problem in much older homes and on exterior doors.  Most standard doors are 1 3/8-1 3/4 inch thick

Backset: How far over (horizontally) your handle will be installed on the door. 2 3/8- 2 3/4 inches is standard

Bore sizes: This the size of the hole that was drilled in the door for both the handle/cylinder itself and the latch or bolt.  Again these are extremely standard. It is very rare to have an under or oversized bore hole.

Keying: When ordering keyed locks, you need to decide if you want a different key for each lock or if you want them all keyed the same.   Most companies can provide lock sets that only require one key for all of them.

So that is pretty much everything you need to know before tackling a door hardware update. Plus most hardware companies are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about what exactly you need.
Door handle replacement
Overall, I’m really glad I took the time and spent the money to replace all the handles.  It was totally worth it.  The house definitely feels less dated!
Hall door handles before and after

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