Home Improvement

Different Types of Door Knobs and Handles: Essential Guide

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Close-up of a door knob

Do you know that the type of door knob or handle you choose can make a big difference in the look and feel of your home?

Door knobs and handles are not only functional, but also decorative. They can add style, personality, and security to your doors. But with so many options available, how do you pick the right one for your needs?

In this article, I will guide you through the different types of door knobs and handles, and help you find the best one for your budget, preference, and door type.

Types of Door Knobs

Traditional spherical knobs still reign, along with detailed accent plates adding extra sophistication.

Ball Knobs

A close-up of a ball door knobPin

Perfect for: interior doors

  • A classic and versatile doorknob style that can be used on a variety of doors
  • Spheres crafted usually from metal alloys or glass
  • Polished, patterned and painted finishes
  • Range from cheap acrylics to fine cut crystal

Pro Tip: Look for round knobs with an ADA compliant grip span for accessibility.

Thumb Turn Knobs

Thumb turn knobPin

Perfect for: bathroom, bedroom, laundry room, pantry doors

  • Ideal for interior doors that require privacy and ease of use
  • Small spin knobs sized for thumb/finger turning
  • Lock or unlock privacy and passage door latches
  • Locate interior side of bathroom & bedroom doors

Backplate Knobs

Perfect for: exterior doors, interior doors with high traffic

  • Provide a more secure and durable option than surface-mounted knobs
  • Square, rectangle shaped plates backing knob base
  • Often with geometric or floral cutout patterns
  • Add visual weight, dimension versus flat doors
  • Complement contemporary to classic spaces

Rose Knobs

A white rose knobPin

Perfect for: bathroom, guest bedroom, formal living room, historical homes

  • A classic and elegant type of doorknob that is typically used on interior doors
  • Circular rosette plates surrounding knob base
  • Beaded, leaf tip, acanthus edging lends depth
  • Stately decorative accent for period architecture
  • Available from basic to highly ornate

Escutcheon Knobs

Perfect for: bathroom, powder room, closet, and entryway doors

  • Particularly well-suited for doors that need a decorative or upscale touch
  • Ornate, decorative face plates covering door prep and hardware
  • Come in round, oval, square and unique shapes
  • Feature vintage patterns: floral, scrolls, corner flourish details
  • Enhance aesthetic appeal of ordinary knobs
Knob TypeKey Attributes
BallSpheres in metal, mineral, glass
EscutcheonDecorative accent plates
Thumb TurnTiny spin knobs for latch control
BackplateCutout geometric plates behind
RoseCircular rosettes frame knob base

Do you want to learn more about the anatomy of door knobs and how they work? Find out everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide on the different parts of door knobs.

Types of Door Handles: Grips, Pulls and Levers

Ergonomic handles provide easier operation than twisting knobs.

Standard Straight Levers

A straight lever on a black doorPin

Perfect for: bedroom, bathroom, pantry, closet doors and exterior doors (in conjunction with a deadbolt)

  • Most common + affordable handle type
  • Long, straight elongated shape
  • Simple, durable, neutral design
  • Available in most hardware finish options

Euro/Designer Handles

Perfect for: bathroom, closet, sliding door, front and back door, garage door

  • Sleek, modern appearance
  • Provide both security and convenience
  • Graceful shapely curves or minimalist angles
  • Reflect European aesthetic
  • Sophisticated contemporary statement
  • Elevate modern industrial, farmhouse or boho chic decors

Antique Handles

A gold antique handle on a wooden doorPin
Photo: Wikimedia

Perfect for: entryway doors, living room, dining room, bedroom

  • A timeless choice for adding a touch of character and authenticity to your home
  • Ornate facets with vintage design motifs
  • Accomplished “lost wax” bronze casting method allows detailed shapes
  • Pair with crystal rosette plates for dramatic impact
  • Bring Victorian, Art Deco inspiration

Privacy Handles (Passage Handles)

Privacy handle installed on a white doorPin
Photo: Wikimedia

Perfect for: bathroom, bedroom, laundry room, pantry doors

  • Designed to provide privacy without the additional security of a key lock
  • Built-in slide button, turn knob, or twist catch operated internally prevents intrusions from exterior side
  • Great for bathrooms used by multiple household members or guests

Keyed Entry Levers

Gold keyed entry lever on a white doorPin

Perfect for: front door, back door, side door 

  • Typically used on exterior doors that require a higher level of security
  • Exterior lever allows key unlocking
  • Interior knob or thumb turn latch control
  • Integrated commercial grade deadbolt for security
  • Keyless smart lock options growing in popularity
Handle TypeKey Features and Benefits
Standard Straight LeverAffordable, simple, neutral
Euro/DesignerContemporary graceful curves or modern angles
AntiqueOrnate, accomplished vintage appearance
PrivacyInternal controls prevent intrusions
Keyed EntryExterior key unlocking + interior knob control

Bar Pull Handles

Perfect for: bathroom, closet door, sliding door, fire doors

  • Horizontal door pulls
  • Allow comfortable whole hand grip
  • Ideal for full height commercial doors
  • Also add modern accent touch to small cabinet doors

D and U Shaped Pulls

Metal U-shaped pullPin

Perfect for: wardrobe, bathroom, closet doors, entryway doors, garden doors, back doors

  • Gently curved shape fits the grasping hand ergonomically
  • Smooth comfortable grip encourages use
  • Light pull action – ideal where accessibility matters

Flush Pull Handles

Perfect for: cabinets, pantries, closets, small storage places

  • Sleek, minimalist, concealed
  • Metal pulls embed fully into door
  • Maintains clean linear surface when closed
  • Crisp, invisible handle cavities

Finger Pull Handles

Perfect for: interior sliding doors, compact closets, storage places

  • Small U-shaped indent grip
  • Discreet shape nearly flushed into door
  • Leave minimal protruding hardware
  • Suited for tight spots like closets

Mortise Handles

Perfect for: wooden interior doors

  • Used alongside mortise locksets embedding into door edge
  • Provide smooth unbroken door faces
  • More difficult to install but offer sleek built-in look
  • Pair with coordinating escutcheons and plates

Flush Pull Handles

Perfect for: cabinets

  • Low profile rectangular pulls activate bolts embedding into door edges
  • Allow securely joining unlatched paired doors – Maintain clean sightlines with hidden hardware
  • Manual or automatic bolt operation available

Keyless Entry Handles

Perfect for: exterior doors

  • Integrated touchpads, biometrics, Bluetooth
  • Wave goodbye to keys!
  • Grant access via codes or fingerprints
  • Remote app control convenience

I’m amazed by the fact that 86% of millennials are ready to spend extra money on a “smart unit” that has devices like keyless entry that can be automated or controlled remotely.

Hall & Closet Handles

Perfect for: interior and closet doors

  • Simple non-locking passage hardware allowing general access between non-private interior rooms

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Handles

Perfect for: exterior doors, interior doors

  • Designed to make doors more accessible for people with disabilities
  • Light spring return action
  • Broad lever surface and ample grip clearance
  • Effortless pull operation

Dummy Handles

Perfect for: interior doors

  • Installed on the surface of a door, rather than being mounted into the door itself
  • Purely decorative without any working parts
  • Non-latching handles matching adjacent functional doors’ aesthetics. Provide pleasing visual uniformity

Key Factors When Selecting a Door Knob or Handle

Consider door location, use case and user needs before choosing style.

Door Location Factor Considerations

Exterior Door HardwareInterior Door Hardware
Durable forged metals like bronze, brass and stainless alloysSofter metals like nickel and chrome suffice for lighter use
Protective finishes resisting weathering – oil rubbed bronze idealPVD, lacquer finishes fend off metal abrasion from frequent handling
Grade 1 or lifetime performance confidenceLower precision grades expected
Keyed locks and deadbolts for securityPrivacy locks, push button handles suit most
Rustic natural metals suit outdoor aestheticsPolished metals complement indoor decor

Intended Door Use Considerations

High Traffic DoorsBedrooms & BathroomsAccessibility & Safety
Durable finishes + metalsPrivacy lock handlesSmooth easy grip lever handles
Calibrated spring tensionThumb turn knobsBroad clearance meets ADA
Account for potential abuseInternal slide locksLight action aids limited mobility
Commercial grade performanceBuilt-in turn buttonsPet/childproofing functions
  • Specify pick resistant grade locks and tamper-proof screws for exterior doors and interior entries
  • Seek smart lock keyless convenience like passcodes or fingerprints on main entries
  • Sync door hardware finishes with cabinet knobs, lighting, appliances and accessories throughout the space

Additional Considerations When Buying a Specific Type of Door Knob or Door Handle

Beyond core functionality, trending selection factors include:

Child Safety

  • Prevent unwanted access with handles safely out of toddler reach or featuring childproofing lock controls

Pet Safety

  • Specify pet proof levers with calibrated spring tension preventing nose nudging entry

Adjustable Opening

  • Customizable exact degree of handle turn to smaller angles required for entry – Ease operation for children or the mobility impaired

By thoughtfully accounting for door use, location and user needs, you can select optimal handles and locks tailored to your unique space and lifestyle.

Conclusion & Next Steps

The wide spectrum of doorknobs, ergonomic handles and smart locking options on the market makes it easy to design doors with aesthetically pleasing, durable and accessible hardware solutions unique to your needs and taste.

Unsure how to coordinate finishes across hardware styles? You’re not alone. If I were you, I would Consult showrooms like Emtek, Rocky Mountain Hardware or Rejuvenation displaying curated hardware coordinating collections with designer door levers matched to cabinet knobs, deadbolts, hinges and lighting in the same metal tones and patinas – so you can visualize pieces together.

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More