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DOOR HARDWARE - Selecting an Exterior Door Set

Having trouble determining if you need a Conversion, Mortise, or Rim Lock entry set? Choosing the right hardware for your exterior door is easy; just follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Examine your door

If you have an existing vintage or newer door, look for any holes on the face of the door or cut-outs along the edge. Measure the dimensions of any opening, the backset (distance from the edge of the door to the center point of the hole the doorknob spindle passes through), and the door's thickness. It is also useful to measure the width of the door stile (the vertical member on which the door hardware is mounted).

If you have a new door, determine whether it's a slab door or if it is pre-bored with a pair of standard 2 1/8" holes. Also note the door's thickness. Doors that are

pre-drilled will typically require conversion entry sets; be sure to check if the backset is 2 3/8" or 2 ¾". If the door has not been drilled you have a wider range of hardware options from which to choose.

Step 2: Select a type of door set

If your door has any existing bores or cut-outs, select the type of door hardware below that most closely corresponds to these openings. Doors that have had no prep work are suitable for any type of door hardware. Simply choose a set that compliments the style and era of your home.

Conversion Entry Door Sets: Most doors post-1940, New construction

conversion drilled door

If your home was built after about 1940, or you are building new home, chances are you need a conversion entry set. Conversion entry sets, which feature a small cylindrical latch mechanism, are designed for doors 1 ¾" -2 ¼" thick and bored with a pair of 2 1/8" holes. The most common and popular type of door hardware available today, conversion entry sets come in a tremendous variety of styles and designs. You'll find everything from crystal knobs with Victorian style escutcheons to elegant, long handled sets.

When ordering a conversion entry set, be sure to measure and specify the correct backset (distance from the edge of the door to the center of the 2 1/8" bore). Most modern doors have a backset of either 2 3/8" or 2 ¾". If your doors are not pre-drilled, measure the width of the stile to determine the backset you need (as close to center as possible). Be sure to note the width of the door set – it should not overlap the edge of the stile at any point.

conversion doorset conversion doorsetconversion doorset

The deadbolts included with conversion entry sets are suitable for 1 ¾" to 2 1/4" thick doors. For thicker doors, contact a Hardware Specialist for other options. Most of the conversion entry sets we feature require a minimum 5 ½" center-to-center measurement between the two bores.

If you have double doors, you will need to purchase a pair of dummy handles for the passive door (available by special order), as well as bolts to hold the door in place (either surface bolts or flush bolts set into the door's edge).

See all Conversion Entry Door Sets >


Mortise Entry Lock Sets: Doors ca. 1860-1940, New Construction

mortise drilled door

For many, mortise locks are the key element in creating that "old house" look. Popular from the last third of the 19th century through the 1930s, these substantial lock sets have a charm and presence that is hard to beat. Entry mortise sets are available in a wide variety of designs, from ornate Victorian to hand-hammered Arts & Crafts.

Mortise lock sets are defined by the box-type lock that is installed into a deep pocket or "mortise" in the edge of the door. Generally, the mortise lock houses both the latch and dead bolt in one unit. From the exterior the deadbolt is activated via the cylinder by a standard house key and from the interior by a thumb-turn. Entry mortise sets may have knobs, which are threaded onto a spindle and tightened in place with set screws, or a thumb-latch at the top of a long handle. Unless noted, mortise locks are reversible.

To ensure that the new mortise lock will fit your old door, check the inside dimensions of the pocket, the backset of the knob or cylinder (the distance from the edge of the door to the center of hole the spindle passes through), and the measurement of the cut-out for the face plate. The size of the mortise pocket and the edge cut-out can easily be increased with a hammer and chisel when needed. If you have a new door slab, your installer will mortise the door to fit the lock of your choosing. Be sure to note the width of the door set – it should not overlap the edge of the stile at any point.

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Mortise entry locks include a single keyed cylinder suitable for a 1 ¾" thick door. For thicker doors a longer cylinder is necessary; cylinders for doors up to 2 ¾" in thickness may be purchased separately in the Doorset Parts category (see locks and latches).

If you have double doors, you will need to purchase a pair of matching entry handles for the passive door, as well as bolts to hold the door in place (either surface bolts or flush bolts set into the door's edge).

See all Mortise Entry Lock Sets >


Rim Lock Sets: Doors pre-1900, New Construction

Rim Lock drilled door

Rim Locks are surface mounted door sets that were common in the 18th and 19th centuries. The cases may be simple, painted iron or ornately patterned brass. Knobs for rim locks are typically black, white, brown or mineral-swirl porcelain, or plain round brass.

Rim locks are ideal for 19th century restorations or for un-drilled new doors when an early vintage look is desired. They are also a good choice for thin (less than 1.25") or plank type doors. The visible box portion of the lock is mounted on the interior of the house, while the exterior side of the door will simply have a knob with rosette and a keyhole cover. The width of your door stiles or position of the cross rail will determine whether a vertical or horizontal rim-lock is appropriate.

The latch "keeper" is mounted to the inside of the door frame as well. Often the moulding surrounding the door will have to be notched to accommodate this piece. On out-swing doors the latch keeper will have to be mortised into the door jamb in order to function properly.

Rim Lock doorset Rim Lock doorset

Rim locks are secured with a skeleton key. Therefore, in exterior applications, rim locks are generally paired with a standard deadbolt for added security. Low profile deadbolts are available in polished brass and matt black finishes to coordinate with your rim lock. Unless noted, Rim locks are reversible. Simply remove the case lid and flip the latch over.

See all Rim Lock Hardware