How to Choose a Doorknob

Find useful tips to help you select a doorknob.

A doorknob on a bathroom door

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One of the most important features of a home is the ability to secure it against people, animals, and the elements. Doors allow you to access the home and close the door behind you to help ensure you are safe and secure, but they are not as effective without a functional doorknob. Whether you are using a bedroom door, bathroom door, or exterior door, most doors have doorknobs, door levers, or door handles to operate an internal latch and pull open the door.

You can find a variety of doorknobs ranging in material, style, finish, size, and even the lock set, so it's a good idea to learn more about doorknobs in order to make an informed decision about a new doorknob for your home. Consider important factors like security, indoor or outdoor placement, and lockset while reading this comprehensive guide to help you learn how to choose a doorknob.

Before Replacing Your Doorknob

Doorknobs are relatively simple mechanisms, so when a doorknob isn't working properly, you may immediately decide to replace it. However, there are several easy DIY steps you can take to try to fix the issue before replacing the doorknob. The first fix is just tightening the screws on the doorknob. These screws are typically located on either side of the knob, though they can be difficult to access without a long screwdriver.

If the screws seem tight, but the doorknob is still not working correctly, remove the doorknob from the door. Check the screws for any damage and replace them if necessary. Also, verify that the doorknob was properly aligned in the door. Reinstall the doorknob with the new screws to test if this has resolved the problem. If the issue persists, then it's recommended to replace the doorknob.

Buying Considerations for Doorknobs

Before deciding on a new doorknob for the bedroom, bathroom, or front door, it's a good idea to learn more about doorknob materials, finishes, lock sets, and the measurements necessary to find a compatible doorknob for your door.

Material and Finish

While the material and finish aren't the most important factors to consider, you will want to take some time to think about what material and finish would look best in your home. If you are replacing a doorknob, then you could just stick with the original look to match the other doorknobs in the home, or you could take this opportunity to make a change.

Doorknobs are typically made of metal with a range of finishes, including brass, matte black, rose gold, satin, nickel, pewter, chrome, bronze, or stainless steel. For a more decorative look that stands out from standard doorknobs, consider installing a glass or porcelain doorknob. Ceramic or wooden doorknobs are another option, though these products are better for a cottage or country aesthetic.


The lockset refers to the mechanism used to open the door latch and lock the door. Common lockset types include passage, privacy, keyed entry, and dummy locksets.

  • Passage locksets are common on bedroom doors, closet doors, and other interior doors. They turn to the right or left to open the door latch, allowing the user to open the door, however, passage locksets do not have locks.
  • Privacy locksets are similar to passage locksets in that they are typically used indoors, but privacy locksets have a push-button or turn-button lock on the inside of the door, making them a good choice for bathrooms.
  • Keyed entry locksets are generally used on exterior doors to secure the home from the outdoors. These doorknobs have a keyed lock that can be operated from the interior or exterior of the home. Usually you will need to use a key on the exterior lock, but the interior side of the lock is often a simple turn button or lever.
  • Dummy locksets are only doorknobs in appearance. They do not turn, do not have a latch mechanism, and they do not lock. These locksets are common on folding doors for linen closets, laundry areas, or broom closets.


It's important to take accurate measurements of your existing door to ensure the new doorknob will fit properly. This means that you will need to measure the backset, cross bore, and door thickness before shopping for a new doorknob.

  • The backset refers to the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the doorknob. In most cases, the backset measures 2 3/8 inches or 2 3/4 inches.
  • The cross bore is the main hole in the face of the door where the doorknob and locking mechanism are installed. Use a tape measure to find the diameter of the cross bore and make sure that you measure across the circular hole at its widest point. The most common measurement for the cross bore is 2 1/8 inches.
  • Finding the door thickness is relatively easy by simply measuring from the door's right edge to the door's left edge. Door thickness typically falls between 1 1/4 inches to 2 inches (but can be up to to 3 inches), depending on whether the door is intended for interior or exterior use.

Doorknob Styles

After you have the door measurements in hand and know which lockset is suitable for the door, you can take some time to choose a doorknob style that suits the home.


A rustic doorknob is a great option for a country, farmhouse, or ranch aesthetic. These doorknobs can be made of wood, glass, or metal with a brass or bronze finish, giving the home a charming natural appeal.


The classic doorknob style is easy to recognize with a round or sphere shape and a basic metal construction. While classic doorknobs can be found in a wide range of colors, it's more common to see plain chrome, brass, or stainless steel finishes.


Adding an antique doorknob to the home immediately draws attention from guests because these products typically have ornate designs with an aged appearance. Antique doorknobs can be wooden, porcelain, glass, ceramic, or metal with a faded or worn finish. Keep in mind that you don't actually need to find a true antique. Many new doorknobs are made with an antique style, so you won't be sacrificing functionality for appearance.


The sleek, clean design of modern doorknobs is common in office environments, restaurants, and commercial business because they typically have a neutral color palette and a simple design that blends well with the professional aesthetic.


Adding a new doorknob to the home isn't typically an expensive renovation or repair project. These simple mechanisms that are necessary for home security can be purchased at home improvement stores for less than $20 or found online for as little as $5. However, if you are looking for a high end glass doorknob or a state-of-the-art electronic keyed entry doorknob, then the cost can increase significantly.

Some premium products can even exceed $500 for a single doorknob, though this isn't the case for most products. On average, you can expect to pay about $10 to $100 for a new doorknob, with basic options, like dummy lock sets or passage lock sets, costing less than doorknobs with locking mechanisms.

How to Choose a Doorknob

Deciding on a new doorknob for the home can be quick and easy, but if you are struggling to narrow down the choices, then it's a good idea to ask yourself a few questions that can help to eliminate products that don't meet your needs.

Is the doorknob intended for added security?

Doorknobs are essential to a door being able to latch when it's closed and unlatch to be opened, but if you are looking for a doorknob for an exterior door, a bathroom door, or even an office in the home, it's a good idea to consider investing in a product with a lock. You can choose a simple privacy lockset that can be locked from one side of the door, like the doorknobs that are commonly seen on bathroom doors. For additional security, upgrade to a doorknob with a keyed entry lockset, so that a key is required to operate the lock.

Will the doorknob be installed inside or outside?

Interior doorknobs are typically made with dummy, passage, or privacy locksets, depending on whether the doorknob is installed in a bathroom door, bedroom door, or a basic sliding closet door. These products are intended more for functionality and style than for security, but if you are looking for a doorknob for an exterior front, side, or back door, then it's better to invest in a doorknob with a keyed entry lockset. These products are designed to be thick, durable, and weather-resistant in order to provide the home with suitable exterior security. Additionally, doorknobs with keyed entry locksets need to be operated with a key, so it's more difficult for criminals to try and break in.

What color, finish, or style is most appealing?

Selecting a doorknob isn't limited to figuring out the right lockset or taking accurate measurements. You also get to select a color, finish, and style that suits the home, matches the aesthetic, and appeals to your own personal taste. Doorknobs come in a wide array of styles, including rustic, classic, antique, and modern. They can also be made with several different materials, like wood, glass, ceramic, porcelain, and metal, with a range of finishes from matte black to chrome. Take some time to choose the color, finish, and style that you prefer based on your personal taste and home aesthetic.

  • Do doorknobs have a universal standard size?

    Doorknobs don't come in a wide range of sizes, but they do not have a universal standard size, so it's important to measure the backset, cross bore, and door thickness before purchasing a new doorknob.

  • How do you remove a doorknob with no visible screws?

    If a doorknob doesn't have visible screws on either side, you can still remove the doorknob by locating the detent hole or pin. This small hole is typically on the side of the doorknob and can be used to release the door handle by inserting a small screwdriver or the end of an Allen wrench into the hole and applying pressure. Just make sure to find and remove the set screw on the bottom of the doorknob before pushing down on the pin, otherwise the doorknob will remain in place.

  • What is the cross bore of a door?

    The cross bore refers to the main hole in the face of the door where the doorknob and locking mechanism are installed.