When you buy a new door it will be sold without fittings. You may find door suppliers offer a hardware pack separately or stock a range of fittings to choose from; otherwise you will have to find a shop specializing in door fittings – or door furniture as it is often called – or buy from a hardware shop or a large store. The range of fittings is so wide it may be confusing at first; but if you narrow your choice to suit the type of door and house you have, you will find selection much easier.
THE TYPE OF HANDLE, LETTER PLATE, KNOCKER OR OTHER FITTING YOU CHOOSE, CAN COMPLEMENT OR DETRACT FROM THE OVERALL APPEARANCE OF A DOOR. HERE WE DESCRIBE THE RANGE AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU MAKE THE BEST CHOICE.
This is just a small selection of the enormous range of door fittings; it should give you some indication of the types available 1 Horizontal letter plate 2 Letter flap to cover the opening on the inside 3 Brass mortise knob 4 Aluminium vertical letter plate incorporating a knocker and an opening for a cylinder lock 5 Antiqued iron pull handle with thumb latch 6 Wire letter box with top access flap 7 Brass screw-on numbers 8 Aluminium door pull with opening for cylinder lock 9 Antiqued iron latch lever 10 Antiqued door bolt 11 Antiqued iron knocker 12 Metal kick plate 13 Free-standing porters to hold the door open 14 Acrylic, ceramic and brass escutcheons 15 Enamelled, ceramic, acrylic, stainless steel and brass mortise knobs 16 Finger plates to match 17 Brass lever handles 18 Aluminium lever handles 19 Brass military handles for furniture
There are many contemporary designs for a modern house; for older houses you can get reproduction fittings to suit the period; and for old country properties you can choose between period styles and reproduction antique iron fittings.
Before buying, make a note of the fittings you need. There are various extras and combinations of fittings- for example, a letter plate may incorporate a knocker and house number – but the basic items for exterior doors are: mortise knob, escutcheon, letter plate, knocker and/or bell push and house number. For an interior door you will need a mortise knob or lever handle and probably an escutcheon and finger plate.
You will also need latches and locks, which you buy separately, and hinges. These will all be covered later in the Course.
You can get a whole suite of fittings in the same style; if you want a co-ordinated look throughout the house, you can match cupboard knobs, hooks, bathroom fittings and light switch plates with your door furniture. So having decided how many fittings you require, you must choose which style is most suitable.
PERIOD The traditional ornate patterns of door furniture – as found in Georgian, Regency and Victorian houses, for example – are now widely reproduced. Exterior doors normally have a carved knob and a knocker may be in the shape of a lion’s head, dolphin, Grecian head or urn. The fittings are usually made of cast brass, which is polished and lacquered. It retains its appearance reasonably well; but after a while the lacquer may deteriorate, especially when exposed to the weather, and will need renewing.
Other finishes are available to order, including antiqued brass, silver plate, oxidized silver, gold plate and bronze. Brass is also used for interior fittings and there are elaborate filigree patterns finished with lacquered French gilt. Classic designs are also made in porcelain, cut glass, alabaster and onyx and these are equally suitable for modern interiors.
ANTIQUED If you have an old country house or cottage, you can enhance its rustic look with reproductions of traditional iron fittings. The iron is treated with a rust deterrent and is usually available in a matt black or armour bright finish. Fittings include knockers, thumb latch handles with lever latches, ring handles, pull handles, letter plates with or without knockers, bell pulls, hinges, hinge fronts, bolts, hat and coat hooks and gate furniture. Window fittings are also available in the same range.
MODERN Contemporary fittings are available in many materials, of which anodized aluminium is probably the most widely used for both exterior and interior doors. Aluminium fittings are generally silver coloured; other finishes include satin chrome-plate, satin nickel-plate and bronze metal-plate. Lacquered brass fittings are also made for inside and outside. Some ranges include switch and socket plates, bolts, hinges, door stops, door closers, cupboard knobs, window fittings and hat and coat hooks, enabling you to co-ordinate your fittings throughout the house.
Other materials used for interior fittings include clear Perspex, smoke brown acrylic, plastic in a wide range of colours, plain and decorated china, and wood such as pine, beech and teak.
TYPES of fittings
When choosing fittings, bear in mind the use the door will have. If, for example, there is an old or disabled person in the house, he or she will probably find it easier to open a door with a lever handle rather than a knob. Children, too, will find a lever easier to use and your choice may depend on whether you want a child to get into a particular room. For rooms that are out of bounds, it may be wise to fit a mortise knob and lock.
MORTISE KNOB Used in conjunction with a mortise latch and/or lock, this is fitted on a rose or plate. A spindle joins the knobs on each side of the door and operates the latch. The spindle may be cut to adjust to the door’s thickness. There are designs for internal and external use.
CENTRE KNOB This is fitted in the centre of a front door and is used to pull the door closed. It is commonly used on period doors, where the knob is a decorative feature. The knob is attached to A spindle, which is fitted in a hole drilled through the door and held in place by a nut or another knob on the inside.
LEVER HANDLE Some styles are suitable for exterior use, but lever handles are used mainly on internal doors. Most lever handles are spring-loaded and are available for fitting with a mortise latch or a lock: in the latter case, a keyhole is fitted in a plate. Most lever handles are fitted on an oblong plate, but some do have a round rose.
THUMB LATCH HANDLE Usually part of an antique range, this type operates a lever latch which lifts when the handle is depressed. It can be operated on the inside of the door by a ring mortise handle. A thumb latch handle is also obtainable on a plate containing a hole for a cylinder lock and is mainly used on external doors and gates.
MILITARY HANDLE This type originated on chests used by officers to hold their possessions while on active service. Since the chests had to be transported long distances, they were designed without protruding parts, which would have been liable to damage. So the handles were set flush in a plate and had to be pulled out for carrying. They are now used mainly on furniture.
RING HANDLE Made mainly in period and antique styles, this is fitted on a rose or small decorative plate which is usually screwed to the door. It operates a mortise latch and some are used in conjunction with lever latches. It is suitable for internal and external doors, while antique ring handles are also used on gates.
Door PULL Used for pulling the door closed, the door pull is made in traditional and modern styles for external and internal doors and cupboards. It can be combined with a lock plate containing an aperture for a cylinder lock.
LETTER PLATE There are horizontal and vertical versions available in a range of sizes and they can incorporate other fittings, such as a door pull or knocker. Other combinations include a knocker and an aperture for a cylindrical lock or knocker. knob and house number. If fitting a letter plate on a hollow or cellular core flush door, check with the supplier where the letter plate block is situated.
LETTER FLAP AND BOX To cover the letter opening on the inside, you can fix a metal or plastic letter flap or one which matches the plate. The flap is fitted by hinges just above the opening or by side plates screwed to the door. If you do not want your mail to land on the floor, you can fit a box over the opening. These are usually made of wire and have a top flap for access. The box is normally fitted using screws on each side of the top frame.
KNOCKER This is often an integral part of the letter plate in modern designs. On period doors the knocker is usually placed in the centre of the door at a suitable hand height above the door knob. Period versions are a distinctive decorative feature and are produced in many elaborate styles. They ARE screwed to the door, often with a concealed fitting. and are provided with a knocker plate to protect the door and to enhance the sound of the knocker.
ESCUTCHEON This is a plate round a keyhole. It may be open or have a pivoted cover which is slid to one side when a key is inserted. It is often available as part of a set of fittings.
HOUSE NUMBER This accessory can be bought to match the rest of your fittings or purchased separately. A wide choice includes brass numerals which are self-adhesive or with matching screws or concealed fittings. For a modern door there are zinc alloy numbers enamelled in white or green with concealed nylon fixings. Reminiscent of French numbers are vitreous enamelled steel plates with white figures on a blue background. You can get large antiqued iron numerals for fixing onto a wall.
FINGER PLATES A plate fixed just above the door handle helps to prevent finger marks appearing on your paint or varnish. Used mainly on internal doors, they are available in materials which include glass, ceramic, metal and plastic. They are usually sold to match knobs and handles.
DOOR STOP Some ranges of fittings include a door stop, which is fixed to the floor or wall to prevent a door.damaging furniture or a wall when it swings back. The part which comes in contact with the door is usually made from thick rubber and is fixed TO A plate and then screwed to the floor OR WALL.
DOOR HOLDER A door will remain in an open position if you fit a door holder to the bottom outside edge. It can be operated with a foot, leaving your hands free for carrying. The holder is made of metal, such as polished brass, and has a rubber bottom for contact with the floor. One type operates as a bolt which drops when you touch it with your foot: another version has a lever which drops when you kick it. The holder is screwed to the door on a plate.
Another type of door holder is the old-fashioned self-standing porter. Porters are small lead-weighted figures in cast brass, reproduced from antique casting patterns in the form of cupids, urns, vases of flowers, fox heads, dolphins and ships.
KICK PLATE This saves wear and tear, especially if you have children or are in the habit of kicking the door open because your hands are full. It consists of a small panel of plastic or metal which you screw to the ‘push’ side of the door at the point where it is likely to be kicked.
DOOR CLOSER An overhead door closer is essential on a fire-check door to ensure it is kept closed. There are several designs available, but all work through a return mechanism fitted to the top of the door and connected to an arm attached to the door frame. Some models can be used on either a left or right-hand door; with others you must specify the type you need. The weight of the door may also deter- 2d mine which model of closer you need. The closing speed can usually be regulated and some closers have a hold-open device.
Another type of overhead closer is concealed in a mortise in the top of the door and the arm bracket is mortised into the soffit.
DOOR SPRING This is a closer which fits on the hinge side of the door between two hinges. One type consists of a cylinder fixed to a rebate in the door frame; an arm projecting from the cylinder has two rollers on the end and it slides across the door as it opens and closes. You can fix a strip of plastic to the door for the rollers to run on to avoid marking the door.
Alternatively you can use a concealed spring. This is a cylinder fitted into a drilled hole in the edge of the door, with an anchor plate fitted flush with the frame. When the door is closed, the spring is not seen.