August 19, 2010
BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER.....
An odd topic to make an actual “Master Class” of, but hardware is an important component when upgrading a home.
I’ve always assumed that door and household hardware isn’t on most people’s radar when looking at a house. Therefore, I’m always surprised when someone notices the hardware… Men get turned on about general household hardware and the women get all giddy about cabinet hardware…what-ever…
I’ve had hardware fetishes since childhood……I knooowww! Moi?
At an early age a family member acquired an 18th century home and I was ‘introduced’ to hardware; big box-locks with cool skeleton-keys, surface-mounted latches, hand wrought hinges, etc. (fade in: Sunny springtime happy valley scene with flowers and harp music) Yes….I was in love!
Then, at boarding school my ‘cottage’ (dormitory) was the Strawbridge family’s former summer home (of Philadelphia’s Strawbridge & Clothier). In the basement there were stores of abandoned oddities, doors, furniture and odd bits. Some old rotted 18th century doors still had their beautiful hardware on them, so during my 7th grade year I methodically and carefully removed the antique hardware piece by piece and took it home to Maryland to my peculiar cache of odd hardware…So, by the age of ten or twelve I was a thief with a fetish...go figure.
As my hardware antennae were honed, I realized my grandparents had gold plated 19th century hardware in their home, albeit plain - but handsome, which of course never tarnished and always looked elegant without polishing, ever.
I’d ride my bike around with other boys my age and point out the “heart-tipped, handmade strap-hinges” on a barn or a gate to which they replied… “WTF???”
I think hardware is a wonderful, ‘not-out-of-reach’ luxury.
This is, in my opinion, one of the tell-tales of a homes quality level. Most builders choose to cut the budget by using ‘fancy junk’ hardware in spec homes. Odd, as I feel it’s a defining component to the character of the house.
There’s a subliminal satisfaction to touching something of quality. Grabbing a solid knob, or pushing a nice, solid door closed and have the ball-bearing hinges glide it through the swing, then once the latch hits the strike-plate and you hear that heavy metal ‘click’ shut… it’s just nirvana! And, something many people actually do notice!
Now, in many homes when you push those hollow-core, faux-woodgrain, Masonite doors, fitted with a $15 Schlage set the damn door hardly moves; there’s no weight to “carry” the push, the hardware used is thin, colored steel and doesn’t operate without some force.
How many people glanced over at your doors whilst reading this??? How many have window latches or hinges that are painted over? Or, doorknobs that feel wobbly, or crappy when touched? How many have powder rooms that when you lock the door you’re never quite sure if it’s locked or not??
Walk around your house and take a second look at your hardware and consider an upgrade (if you don’t already have good hardware). Changing out knobs and lock-sets isn’t hard; there are all kinds of adaptor sets for all existing circumstances.
The choices are endless for styles of knobs; from gold-plated Rococo styles to bronze 'tree branches.' BUT, you shouldn’t get hardware that’s not appropriate for your style house. For example: Arts & Crafts style isn’t good for an 18th Century home, nor is Baroque for a Mission style home.
With zillions of metal finishes, it’s almost overwhelming.
Below is a small description of the basic metals.
Each finish is also available in brushed, satin, antiqued, rubbed, etc.
POLISHED BRASS: Brightly polished brass with no blemishes, lacquered; indoors only.
LIFE-TIME BRASS: Molecularly modified brass, it will never tarnish! It's aweosme.
CHROME: Chrome is the old standard “silvery” polished finish, gray in color.
NICKEL: A lovely, warmer colored silver finish.
GOLD PLATED: Usually solid brass that’s been electroplated with 14kt gold.
Will always look bright and warm.
BRONZE: Warmer than brass; colors range from almost black to a deep brass tone.
OIL-RUBBED BRONZE: A finish that appears to be antique black, sometimes with highlights,
sometimes solid brown depending on manufacturer
MIXED FINISH: This is a term for hardware that has two different finishes.
(i.e.: chrome with polished brass)
SILVER: Real silver-plated hardware. Often lacquered; tarnishes quickly if not lacquered. Lovely, but high maintenance.
BASIC HARDWARE TERMINOLOGY
KNOB: Not always a round orb!
LEVER: A handle, or lever not a 'knob'
ROSETTE: the larger round medallion that fits against the door. You want the smaller one
LATCH: The angled ‘tongue’ part that sticks out of the end of the door that goes into the jamb to hold the door closed.
DUMMY KNOB: A doorknob which is used only to match another active knob on a pair of doors
CLOSET KNOB: Closets have a normal sized matching knob outside and a small thumb turn
inside (saves money)
PASSAGE SET: A standard set of knobs on each side of the door, no lock.
PRIVACY SET: A standard passage set with a built-in lock on one side (bedrooms or baths)
THUMBTURN: The piece that mobilizes the dead bolt, it’s a small version of the doorknob.
ACTIVE DOOR: The door that is used the most
PASSIVE DOOR: A door that opens after the primary door is opened
STATIONARY DOOR: A door that does not open; fixed in place
BYPASS DOOR: Doors on a closet (usually) that are hung on a track that allows them to bypass each other on a track. Not popular.
POCKET DOOR: A door that slides into the wall, out of sight.
BI-FOLD DOORS: Pairs of doors which are hinged against the jamb and they are hinged
together too, when they open they fold to the side(s).
STRIKE PLATE: The small metal square piece that’s on the door jamb with a hole in it where
the latch goes to hold the door shut.
MORTISE LOCK: A large metal box that’s inset into the doors edge which houses the latch, deadbolt and has two small manually operated buttons to make the door auto-lock or not.
ENTRY MORTISE SETS: Exterior doors only.
SURFACE "BOX LOCK" SET: Colonial style door hardware
BACKPLATE: A large metal plate which has the knob and lock cut into it
(most often front doors)
CREMONE BOLT: A surface-mounted bolt that is applied to the face of the French door or
French windows, it locks the top and bottom simultaneously by turning one knob.
The door is not drilled or cut to accommodate this bolt.
(same as surface bolt, but this is for top and bottom)
THREE-POINT LOCKS: (Exterior doors) three separate locks built into the inside of the door
(top, bottom and edge) that operate by a single lever.
KEY HOLE: duh?!?
COVERED KEYHOLE: A standard keyhole with a small piece of metal that swings over the
actual keyhole. Good for seaside areas outside.
FLUSH BOLT: A bolt often used on French doors which is carved into the face or edge of
the door making the hardware flush with the door face when the door(s) are closed.
SURFACE BOLT: A hand operated bolt which is applied to the face of the door or window
and the door is not drilled or cut for its application.
(same as cremone bolt but only operates top OR bottom)
DEAD BOLT: A lock that has to have the door closed before it can be locked
(often with a key) The safest lock.
DEADBOLT WITH THUMB-TURN: A deadbolt with small knob that operates the lock from
inside, and is keyed from outside, good for solid wood doors.
DOUBLE KEYED DEADBOLT: For use on glass doors, a deadbolt that is only operable
with a key, inside and out. (so no one can break the glass and reach in to unlock the door)
HINGE: The basic hinge (this one is Victorian)
KNUCKLE HINGE: A lovely European hinge. When iinstalled only the 'knuckle' is exposed.
STRAP HINGE: An old fashioned, colonial style hinge
BALLBEARING HING: For a heavier door. It literally has ball bearings as part of the mechanism.
HING FINIALS: A small decorative (or not) piece that fits on the top and bottom of the hinge.
Most often seen as balls; other finials are acorns, urns and steeples.
SURFACE HINGE: A hinge that is not 'cut' into the cabinet at all.
SOSS HINGE: A hinge that is inset into the edge of the door and jamb. It is completely out of sight when door is closed. Good for ‘hidden’ doors.
BOMMER HINGE: A hinge that makes a swinging door swing and props open when needed.
PIANO HINGE: A continuous hinge, which is used for heavy doors or cabinetry
EDGE PULLS: For recessed doors, it's cut into the edge of the door; you pull out a small loop to assist with closing the door.
FLUSH PULLS: A hardware piece that is inset into the door, used for pocket or bypass doors.
DROP DOWN DOOR STOP: Great for doors that you used a doorstop with, but it’s
DOOR STOPS: There are several types: Usually metal with rubber tip to stop the door,
or doorknob from hitting the wall. Sometimes magnetic.
KICK PLATE: A flat metallic plate that covers the entire bottom rail of the door.
It's for people who feel a need to kick their door when they open it…
PUSH PLATE: For swinging doors; a flat, usually rectangular metal, glass or ceramic
plate applied to the door on both sides of a swinging door.