Door Knobs and Hinges- the Forgotten Update

Dated: 01/28/2018

Views: 368

It's a funny thing—if I walk into a house with old brass door knobs and hinges, the house’s interiors instantly look tired and dated.  It’s a minor detail that we think doesn’t matter, but one that works as a subtle time stamp for the house.  By simply swapping them out for a brushed chrome or nickel, you can easily shave ten years off the style of your home’s interiors.

Hardware 101

There are different types of knobs/levers for different door types and privacy needs, and you’ll want to keep a list of the different types as you count your doors.

Privacy set— these come with a lock and are most commonly used for bathrooms and bedrooms.

Passage set—knobs where privacy is not a concern, like closet and laundry room doors. 

Dummy set—a set with a lever on both sides of the door, but they do not turn, just pull open.  Commonly used on passage doors or interior French doors, with a barrel lock fastened to the header to keep the door closed.

Half-Dummy—a single lever that doesn’t turn and is fastened with a flat plate on the back; commonly used on pantry doors with a barrel lock fastened to the header to keep the door closed.

Hinge size and corner style—interior doors typically take three 3 ½” hinges while heavier doors and exterior doors use four 4” hinges; hinges will either have square corners or rounded ones.  Since hinges are recessed into the door and jamb, it’s critical you spec what you already have.

Door stops—the rubber tipped piece that sits in the baseboard

It’s also important to read the specifications on any lever you like, because your backset length can matter.  The backset is the working piece of the knob that keeps the door shut.  They come in 2 3/8”, 2 ¾”, or adjustable lengths. 

Expected Costs             

The great thing about levers is that it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a $20 lever and a $75 one, and Kwikset and Schlage offer many stylish options at reasonable prices.  Hinges run about $10 for a 3-pack, but if you do some online research, you should be able to find a contractors pack of 40 hinges for around $50.  Replacing all the pieces and rehanging the doors is a two-person job, and some more advanced handyman skills are required.  It can be slow tedious work, which is why it’s a great project to out-source to a handyman who will charge between $20 and $25 per door.  You can safely budget $1,200 for twenty doors, including hardware, installation, and taxes, making it one of the most inexpensive ways to update your entire home.


Straight levers are the easiest to figure out, because curved levers are directional, whether your doors are right handed or left handed matters, and double doors are ticky. Keep it simple for an easy and stylish update.


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Nicole Baxter

As a practicing Interior Designer with 25 years of residential design and construction experience, a licensed REALTOR, and certified Myers Briggs administrator, Nicole is a professional house whispere....

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