There are countless decisions a person has to make when they decide to throw a skin into the Build a New House game. Paint colors, carpet, tile, cabinets, appliances, trim, wallpaper, etc. The list goes on and on. But unfortunately, some builders don't offer choices, or limited ones at best, when it comes to door hardware. By door hardware, I mean both the door knobs / locksets and the hinges for the door.
The house I grew up in was built in the 1930's. The door knobs were clear crystal and the actual hardware was a full mortise mechanism that used a skeleton key to lock and unlock the doors. This hardware still functions perfectly in that home. You can buy door hardware that will last generations or you can buy some that lasts for several months or years. You should be given the choice to choose hardware that can add value to your home as it ages.
What are the differences in styles of door hardware?
There are vast differences in quality and styles when it comes to door hardware. For some production builders, hardware is a place where they can save large sums of money in an effort to keep their sales price low to lure you into their model home. The problem is, this low-cost and low-quality hardware can cause you headaches not too long after your warranty expires.
Visit a home center and I guarantee that you will find a door knob set for under ten dollars. In fact, you can find them on sale for less than seven dollars. The surface looks shiny and the device will open and latch a door, but for how long? These pieces of hardware are made in foreign countries and are considered a commodity item.
There are different levels of quality and a higher cost associated with each level when it comes to door hardware. The next level is one where you can get a door knob set for approximately $20. These locksets and door knob sets are just a slight improvement over the lowest cost item. They work, but don't expect more than three to five years of service from these hardware sets.
If you start to budget $40 to $50 per door for hardware, you start to get a respectable mechanical device that will be trouble-free for many years. Both traditional round knobs and lever handles are available in this price range.
The next level starts between $70 - $80 per door. Now you are beginning to enter the upper levels of the door hardware atmosphere. Buying a door knob set in this category is like flying first class in a B-777 from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, where the $7 sale lockset is a raft with a cloth sail.
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You can buy even more expensive and higher quality door hardware. As crazy as it sounds, you can spend $150 per door and go as high as $2,000 per door for custom hand-cast designs made by European craftsmen.
What about door hinges?
Don't overlook door hinges. All too often pre-hung interior doors come with commodity machine-stamped hinges. Often these are brass-plated steel. These hinges do work, but they are not well-engineered. There are higher quality stamped hinges that are solid brass. Accent kits can be added so the hinge pins have a traditional ball look or a Victorian finial. I happen to have theses highly-polished solid brass hinges with the finials in my own home.
The best interior door hinges are ones that are extruded. This is a more costly manufacturing process, but the precision of the final product is magnificent. These hinges will provide years of trouble-free performance.
You don't have to be a lottery winner to be able to afford decent door hardware. I urge you to visit a true hardware store that just sells locksets and hinges to get a real feel of what kind of quality and style can be had for a given price range. You may be surprised to discover that door knob styles and finishes exist that you have never seen. What's more, they may be within your budget. Be sure to make this very important trip.