How to Choose Front Door Hardware

Step 4 of 5 in the process – How to Choose a Front Door in 5 Steps.

Emtek EMtouch Electronic Lock installed in Mission Viejo, CA home.

Keyed or keyless?  Tubular or mortise?  Choosing new front door hardware should be simple, right?

Well, it is, if you know what to look for.

Get a Grasp on Entry Door Hardware

When entry door companies like Today’s Entry Doors say ‘front door hardware’ we’re referring to the individual elements that comprise the door’s opening and locking system.

Hardware includes:

  • Locks (Locksets)
  • Deadbolts
  • Handles (Handlesets)
  • Levers and Knobs
  • Hinges
  • Accessories (door bumpers and stops, door bells, door knockers etc.,)
Entry Door hardware - Double door handles

Know the Difference Between Locksets and Deadbolts

The most important component of Entry Door Hardware is–the lockset. Locksets are generally categorized as either tubular or mortise and are most often operated with a key. Tubular locksets also come in keyless electronic and ‘smart’ versions, which we’ll cover below.  Generally, though, keyless systems are used with tubular locks.

A Deadbolt is usually a secondary locking device in addition to the latch bolt. Deadbolts can be generally operated with a thumb turn from inside and a key from outside.

Choose a Lockset Style: Tubular or Mortise

Let’s start with lockset styles and the features and advantages of each.

Tubular by far is the most common and economical entry door lockset. Tubular hardware can come as either a complete one-piece design that includes both latch and deadbolt, or a two-piece design called a ‘sectional.’ The images here help show the differences.  Tubular locksets suit the needs of a large percentage of homeowners today.

A Mortise lockset is beefier and heavier duty than its tubular counterpart. Installation is fairly complex and is best done by professionals. Mortise locksets have a wider and thicker deadbolt with an entry latch that also locks when the bolt is engaged. Because of this, Mortise locks are considered ‘heavy duty residential’ and even used by some light commercial building owners to protect their property.

Something else that distinguishes a mortise set from most tubular sets is the ‘emergency egress’ feature on the internal side of the hardware.  Most locksets require two different actions to open the door. For example, if the deadbolt is locked you must unlock it first, and then turn the handle or knob to get out. With a mortise set, you simply turn your handle or knob, and it and the deadbolt release at the same time. This is an important safety consideration in case of fire or other emergency.

Tubular and Mortise Locksets


Consider Installing an Electronic Lock (a.k.a. Keyless Entry)

Electronic locks are battery operated and characterized by a keypad through which users enter a code to engage or disengage the deadbolt latch.

Most electronic locks are sold as a complete set and include a handle and deadbolt. You may also see standalone deadbolt units with an electronic control mounted on the lock. Both options generally allow access by combination code, as well as a physical key.

Some manufacturers offer key fobs so you can lock and unlock your door from a distance. The code is usually charged by 9-volt batteries. Certain keypads are illuminated for visibility at night and also provide an audible response with each press. High-end electronic locks offer biometric access (finger and retina scan). Electronic locks generally fit doors with tubular style locks. Today’s Entry Doors has extensive experience installing and servicing electronic locks, so if you have any questions on choosing front door hardware, please give us a call.

Smart Locks

The latest electronic locks or ‘smart locks’ offer remote access through your entry door using a smartphone or web app.

Learn how you can upgrade your door with an Electronic Lock.

Electronic Locks and Smart Locks

The most impressive features include:

  • Bluetooth Recognition: The lock will recognize you and automatically open the door when you walk toward it.
  • One-touch Entry: Simply tap on the lock for it to identify you and release the deadbolt.
  • Flexible Security: Provides unique digital keys (codes) to friends, family or anyone of your choice
  • Customization: Create custom digital keys for a specific number of days, certain days of the week and even a particular number of hours.
  • Code-based Greeting: Display a personalized greeting to the individual opening the door (based on the unique digital code)
  • E-Notification: Receive email or text notifications when people enter your home
  • In-Home Integration: Link to the lockset to your home security system and home control system, and access remotely using your mobile device

Smart locks come in various shapes, sizes and features; many have special design and configuration requirements that require professional guidance. Some brands charge a monthly subscription to manage your smart lock. Currently, we are evaluating several smart lock systems and plan to offer the top performers sometime in the near future.

Choose a Handleset: Select Matching Trim & Finish

The type of front door hardware you settle on is greatly influenced by the style of the door itself, such as Classic, Contemporary, Craftsman, Rustic or Traditional. Front door entry hardware handlesets (trim sets) are categorized as sectional (two piece), monolithic (one piece) or full length (full plate). The pictures here help illustrate the differences.

Door Lock Plate Styles

Entry door hardware is usually made from brass, stainless steel, bronze or wrought Iron. Some of the finishes available through Today’s entry Doors include:

  • Brass Hardware: Polished Brass, Oil rubbed bronze, Flat Black & Satin Nickel
  • Stainless Steel Hardware: Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Bronze Hardware: Deep Burgundy, Flat Black, Tumbled White Bronze
  • Wrought Iron Hardware: Flat Black & Satin Steel

A good rule of thumb is to select a handle & lockset finish that matches your entry door’s hinges and threshold. The materials you choose can also have a direct connection to your door style. For example, bronze or wrought iron hardware is better suited for a Rustic door, while stainless steel looks better on a Contemporary model.

Match Door Levers & Knobs

An entry set comes in two parts. The exterior plate that is fixed to the outside of door and the interior plate that’s attached to the inside.

Some entry sets allow you to replace the supplied inside lever with a lever or knob of your choice. Apart from those made from brass, bronze, stainless steel or wrought iron; you may also choose crystal or porcelain door knobs and levers.

If you are selecting a lever for the inside trim, remember to check which way the door opens (left or right). This is called the ‘handing’ of the door.

Accessorize Your Front Door

Emtek Ares Handle Sets installed in Yorba Linda, CA home

Complete your desired ‘look’ by accessorizing your entry door.

Have some fun by adding complementary door bumpers, floor bumpers, door holders, door stops, door bells, switch plates, door knockers or even house numbers. The creative possibilities are endless!

Entry Door Hardware Brands

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