How to Upgrade Front Door Hardware
Update your entry with a bold new door handle, escutcheon, kickplate, and knocker
Making a memorable first impression is tough if your front door has ho-hum hardware. Even worse is a tarnished, pitted entry set with a peeling lacquer finish, like the one below.
To give the door more polish, we shopped around for a shiny brass replacement. But rather than get a set from a specialty hardware shop, where they can easily top $1,000, we chose a Baldwin one-piece handle and tubular lock set with a handsome escutcheon for $179 from the home center. Hardware manufacturers' home-center lines, which range from $100 to $350, are also easier to retrofit because they're designed for DIYers.
Completing the door's makeover is a shapely new knocker for $41 and a gleaming kick plate for $66, for a total project cost of $286.
Budget: $250 to $500
Key players: Entry set, knocker, kickplate
DIY savings: Up to $250 to hire a locksmith
How to Pick a New Entry Set
The key to an easy entry upgrade is finding a handle-and-lock assembly that lines up with your door's existing drill-outs. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your new set will be a perfect fit.
There are two options: A tubular lock, which installs in two holes in the door, and a mortise lock, which goes in one hole. Tubular locks are more widely available, easier to install, and less expensive. Mortise locks, which tend to be more solidly built, require a locksmith to install. Unless you plan on buying a new door, make sure your new setup has the same lock type as the old one. Also, check the dimensions of the strike plate to ensure it will fit in the existing impression in the door jamb to avoid having to pull out a chisel.
Entry sets with handles or knobs can typically be adapted to a right- or left-hand door swing, but ones with levers are not so forgiving. To determine if your door has a right- or left-hand swing, stand outside and note which side the hinges are attached to. A door that is hinged on the left side, for instance, swings to the left.
Remove the interior knob and thumb-turn lock hardware to expose the holes in the door. Measure from the center of the knob hole to the center of the lock hole to determine the spread. On a replacement set with a one-piece exterior escutcheon that holds both the lock cylinder and latch, the spread must match the holes exactly. Choose a two-piece set if you want more wiggle room. Measure the backset: the distance from the inner edge of the door to the center of the knob and lock holes. Backsets are typically either 2⅜ or 2¾ inches. With the door closed, the new escutcheon or rosettes should fully cover the holes, leaving at least ¼ inch between their outside edges and the doorstop.