hand wiping down the handle of an entry set with a towel
Photo: Ted Morrison
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Lockset Lingo

You can upgrade an entry set in less than an hour with new handles or escutcheons. But before you hit the specialty shops or websites for replacement parts, be sure you take all the right measurements. Here's a look at what you need to know.

Backset
The distance between the edge of the door stile and the center of the hole drilled for the lock cylinder. Your replacement escutcheon will center on this hole, so make sure it's not too wide. When the door is closed, there should be no less than ¼ inch between the doorstop and the escutcheon.

Center-to-Center
The distance from the center of the hole drilled for the lock cylinder to the center of the knob hole. This corresponds to the location of the holes in replacement escutcheons.

Right- or Left-Hand Swing
Particularly important when installing levers. To identify a door's "handedness," stand outside and note which side the hinges are attached to. For example, a right-hand door is hinged on the right and swings to the right.

Spindle
The metal rod on which knobs and levers are mounted. You need to know the spindle's width and thread count to make sure new hardware is compatible with it. Spindle length is determined by the thickness of your door stile. If a spindle is too short, the knobs can't connect; too long, and the knobs won't sit tight against the escutcheons.

Hole Size
An escutcheon should be wide enough to hide the holes in the door. Before you buy a narrower escutcheon, remove the one you have and see how big the holes are.

Pictured: Classic door trim, such as these knobs and keyhole covers and this Gothic-style escutcheon, all from House of Antique Hardware, adds vintage appeal to any door.
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