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Door Hardware 101: Types, Functions and Finishes

Door hardware can secure your home and add beauty and convenience. Learn about types of door hardware and their functions and finishes to choose the best for you.

Electronic Deadbolt.

Door Hardware 101

Keyed Door Knob and Deadbolt on an Entry Door.

When shopping for door hardware, there is some basic information you need to know.

  • Make sure the hardware will work with your door thickness. A thickness of 1-3/8 inches is standard for interior doors, while 1-3/4 inches is standard for exterior doors.
  • Note the hardware's required bore hole size — the diameter of the hole in the door. Replacement hardware needs to fit your door, and hardware for a new door requires a hole saw in the correct size. Typically deadbolts need a bore hole 1-1/2 or 2-1/8 inches in diameter. Levers and handlesets usually need a hole 2-1/8 inches in diameter.
  • If you're shopping for replacement hardware, check the required backset. This is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the bore hole. The most common are 2-3/8 inches and 2-3/4 inches, but some hardware can fit multiple backsets. Make sure the hardware you select fits your door. For more help, see Determine the Backset of Your Door.
  • Notice the latch or bolt configuration. Round-corner and square-corner configurations have a plate surrounding the latch or bolt on the edge of the door. Hardware with a drive-in configuration has no plate. Purchasing a replacement lockset that matches the current configuration simplifies installation. You can also find hardware that works with multiple configurations.
  • Make sure the hardware is right for the application. Entry hardware provides security for exterior doors. Privacy hardware has a basic lock and is used on doors for bathrooms and bedrooms. Passage hardware works for interior doors that don't require locks — closet or family room doors, for example. Dummy hardware can serve a decorative purpose — matching operational hardware on double doors — or can serve as knob or lever pulls on interior doors that don't require functional hardware.
  • When looking at an entry door lock — also known as a lockset — check the security grade. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designates three levels. Grade 1 is the highest. Grade 2 offers mid-level security, while Grade 3 provides basic security.
  • You can typically have multiple entry door locks set — keyed — to work with the same key. However, you may not be able to do this with locks of different brands. Locks with do-it-yourself-rekeying let you configure the lock without removing the hardware from the door. This feature can be helpful if you've lost a key and want to assure it can't be used to gain entry to your home.
Good to Know

Look for designs that resist attempts to defeat an entry lock, such as picking, bumping, prying and drilling.

Choosing a Lockset: Keyed vs. Electronic and Smart Locks

When deciding which type of lockset best suits your needs, consider the following points:

  • How often are you locked out? If you or someone in your household is prone to misplacing keys, a keyless lockset with a programmable access code will prevent many expensive calls to a locksmith.
  • How often do you need to grant access to your home? Some electronic and smart locks allow you to create temporary access codes for guests and maintenance professionals or open your door remotely. That way, you’ll never need to hide a spare key outside, which potential burglars often know to look for.
  • What are your design requirements? Traditional keyed locksets sometimes come in more style and finish options that can be matched to existing door hardware, if you prefer a cohesive look.
  • Are you interested in a smart home platform? Smart locksets can be controlled through a smartphone app and many integrated with other home automation systems, such as Iris by Lowe’s. For more details, see What is Home Automation?
  • What’s your budget? Although individual prices may vary according to finish and manufacturer, keyed locks often cost less than high-tech electronic locks.

Electronic Door Locks

Touchscreen-Operated Electronic Deadbolt.

Electronic locks provide security and convenience. Rather than relying on a key for operation, you use a numeric keypad, touch screen or keychain remote. You can also find biometric locks that read your thumbprint. Most models include keys for backup and many offer no-touch, automatic locking after a set period of time. Look for locks that let you create temporary access codes that you can send to guests or service providers. Some electronic locks detect the presence of a registered smartphone or key fob and unlock with a touch.

Electronic locks that integrate with home security or home automation systems — sometimes called connected locks — give you even more convenience and functionality. Depending on the hardware and the system, you can:

  • Automatically lock your doors when you arm your security system
  • Disarm your security system when you unlock a door
  • Remotely operate your locks from a mobile device or computer
  • Receive text notifications when someone enters your home
  • Trigger operation of lights, heating and cooling appliances and sound systems

Shop for Electronic Door Levers

Shop for Electronic Deadbolts

Good to Know

Some electronic door locks sound alerts when someone tampers with the lock or attempts forced entry.

Keyed Door Knobs

Keyed Door Knob.

Door knobs are a common version of keyed entry hardware, offering traditional design and operation. They feature a latch that disengages when you turn the knob. Locking the knob prevents the latch from being disengaged from the outside without a key. The inside portion of the knob has a thumb turn to lock and unlock the door. Some models feature easy-to-use push-button locking on the inside and locks that disengage when you turn the inside knob.

Shop for Keyed Door Knobs

Good to Know

You can find knobs in several different shapes, allowing you to give your doors a bit of individuality.

Keyed Door Levers

Keyed Door Lever.

Door levers are designed for easy operation — they don't require the grasping and twisting motion of knobs. Pushing the lever down disengages the latch. As with knobs, locking the lever prevents the latch from being disengaged from the outside without a key. The inside portion of the lever has a thumb turn or push button that allows you to engage the lock. Some models disengage the lock when you manipulate the inside lever, offering a simpler means of exit.

Door levers are left-handed, right-handed or universal. To determine which you need, look at the door from outside the house or room. If the hinges are on the left, look for a left-handed or universal lever. If the hinges are on the right, you need a right-handed or universal model.

Shop for Keyed Door Levers

Keyed Deadbolts

Keyed Deadbolt.

Deadbolt locks create a second locking point for your door when paired with a locking knob or lever, giving you an additional measure of security. A deadbolt is either a single-cylinder or a double-cylinder model.

  • Single-cylinder deadbolts require a key to unlock from the outside but unlock with a small knob or thumb turn on the inside. They're good for doors that don't have glass that can be broken to allow operation of the knob from the outside. The design allows you to unlock a door and exit your home more quickly in the event of an emergency since you don't have to locate the key.
  • Double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to unlock from the outside and the inside. They improve security if the door has glass near the lock, but they can take longer to unlock and are prohibited in some areas for some types of buildings. If you use a double-cylinder deadbolt, keep a key in a designated location for easy access in an emergency.

Shop for Keyed Deadbolts

Good to Know

Some knob and lever sets include deadbolts.

Good to Know

Single-sided deadbolts operate only from the inside. They may have a blank faceplate on the door exterior or no exterior surface at all.

Keyed Handlesets

Entry Door Handleset.

Handlesets add a bold, decorative touch to an entry door. They include an exterior handle, a thumb-operated latch and a matching deadbolt. A knob or lever operates the latch from the inside. You can find handlesets with right-handed, left-handed and universal levers. The included deadbolt may be single- or double-cylinder, depending on the model. Manufacturers may offer matching, non-functional (dummy) handlesets to complement the functional hardware on a double door. If you're replacing a handleset, look for adjustable models that make it possible to use the existing installation holes in the door.

Shop for Keyed Handlesets

Good to Know

Mortise locks include a latching knob and a deadbolt. They provide a classic look, but in addition to boring holes for the lock and the latch elements, you must also cut a pocket — the mortise — into the door for the body of the mechanism.

Other Door Hardware

Entry Door Reinforcer.

Other types of door hardware are available to improve security:


  • Door viewers, sometimes called peepholes, are sets of lenses that install in an exterior door to give you a wide-angle view of the outside.
    Shop for Door Viewers


Door Hardware Finishes

Door Levers in Brass, Aged Bronze and Nickle Finishes.

Door hardware is available in finishes to match or help define your home decor. Polished brass finishes work with many home styles, and you can find pewter and brass finishes designed to provide an antique appearance. Look for brushed metals for a contemporary look and chrome hardware for modern appeal. Some finishes are designed to change their appearance with wear.

Shop for Door Hardware