Whether it is your front door or a transition from one room of your house to another, installing a new door can be tricky for many reasons. It can take a second set of hands to hold it up while you mount the door. It may even require you to purchase special tools to complete the job.
However, there is one thing that often confuses homeowners when they purchase the shell of a new door. If there is not a hole pre-drilled, where should the standard door handle height be?
Depending on the type of door and its placement in the home, you might come up with different answers. You need to have all of the information to come up with the right solution for your home. Here is our comprehensive guide on how to select the right hardware and where to place it on your new door.
Standard Door Handle Height
Regardless of what kind of door you happen to be installing, you probably need to know the typical door handle height. Some models may have pre-drilled holes to let you know where the door handle belongs, but this is not always the case. How tall are door handles? Well, the answer is a little more complicated than a simple cut and dry response.
The first thing you need to know is that door handle height is always measured from the floor up. This is measured from the finished floor and not the subfloor. Be sure to account for the height of your flooring when making your measurements, particularly if you are going to be installing thick flooring such as solid hardwood flooring. This will often measure ¾-inch thick and can make a major difference in where your door handles should be placed.
All door handles, pulls, latches, and locks should be installed at least 34 inches from the finished floor. On most people, this means that the door handle will be comfortably situated around their hip area.
On the flip side of things, your new door handle should not be higher than 48 inches above the finished floor. Anything higher than this might be too inconveniently placed for comfort.
Most contractors will drill the hole for their door knobs around 36 inches off the floor.
If you want to install additional locks for security reasons, then you do not have to adhere to these usual standards. These types of locks are not considered normal operations and can easily be installed at any height. Many people prefer to install them three-quarters of the way up the door when measured from the floor.
Exceptions to the Rule
Unfortunately, installing a door handle is not always the most precise science. You might wish that there was an easy way to determine just where to drill the hole, but there are exceptions to every rule. Make sure that your door doesn’t fall into one of these categories before you decide to make a permanent mark in your new door.
Entering into Water Features
If you are trying to install a door knob on a door that opens into a swimming pool or other water feature, you need to be more careful about handle and lock placement.
Placing the door handle lower makes it easier for children to let themselves into these areas without proper supervision. It is preferred that you raise the handle height to between 48 and 54 inches to make this accident less likely.
Another thing you want to keep in mind is the overall height of the door. Many interior doors measure at eighty inches tall. Instead of offsetting the door handle by placing it at the 36-inch mark, you might want to consider centering it vertically on the door.
By drilling the hole at forty inches from the floor, you create the appearance that there is no top or bottom to the door. Everything flows together. This is a very common practice in mobile homes or other pre-fabricated homes.
Matching Other Doors
One of the most important things you should remember about your door handle heights is that consistency is key. Unless you are building an entirely new house, you probably already have some interior or exterior doors hung. It is more important that your door handles be consistent than that they match the standard door handle height.
Measure your existing door knobs from the floor up. If they are more than ½-inch off the standard height, you will want to match all of the pre-existing door handle heights in your home. This creates a more harmonious appearance.
ADA Door Handle Height
Many people want to make their homes more accessible for handicapped individuals in their lives. What does the ADA have to say about door handle height? Fortunately, the standards for ADA door handle height are not much different than traditional recommendations. All handles, pulls, latches, locks, and other operable parts of the door should measure between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor.
The height of the door handle is not so much the problem as the door handle itself. It requires that door handles should be able to be used with just one hand without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. It cannot require more than five pounds of force to use these operable parts.
There are also specific guidelines on the width of the door that you can use under ADA protocol. The bottom 34 inches of the door should be 36 inches wide, with no projections into the open space. Once you clear this height requirement, you can have a maximum of four inches of projection into the opening with some of that width distributed on either side of the open door.
Barn Door Handle Height
Barn doors are becoming all the rage with the increased popularity of rustic farmhouse chic interior design. These sliding doors are nice and wide and provide an excellent way to transition from one room to the other without breaking up the space. They are a beautiful feature to include in your home, but you have to know how to select the right door handles and how to place them on your doors.
Most barn doors are going to be roughly the same size as your other interior doors. It is common to see these sliding doors that are 80 inches tall, meaning that they could use the same types of pulls found on other doors. However, most people prefer to purchase special handles and pulls.
An eighty-inch door usually looks good with handles that are ten to thirteen inches long. A slightly larger seven-foot door could accommodate a fourteen to sixteen-inch handle. If you happen to have the extra-large ten-foot doors, you might need pulls that are 24 inches or longer.
The height of your barn door handles should also range from 34 to 48 inches tall. Make sure that you are centering your handles somewhere in this range. You do not want to measure 48 inches up from the floor and then place the bottom of your handle at this mark. That would be too high. Instead, you should measure approximately 36 inches up the door and place the bottom of the handle at this point. It should be comfortable for you to grasp and slide the door open, roughly at hip to waist height.
Keep in mind that locks do not have to be placed this low. In fact, many families with small children prefer to place latches toward the top of the door to keep their little ones from swinging the doors open and shut roughly. These can be placed closer to the shoulder or eye-level so that adults can manage the movement of the doors.
Installing a Deadbolt
Once you have the basic height of your door handle, you might want to install something that offers a little more protection from intruders. Your doorknob can lock, but a deadbolt is a more secure option that many homeowners view as a necessity. It takes an experienced burglar to break through the more secure lock on these features.
How do you know where to place the deadbolt on your new door? There may or may not be a hole pre-drilled to accommodate this type of lock. If there is not, then you need to learn how to effectively and easily install your own lock.
The placement of your deadbolt is very dependent on the height of your standard door handle. Most people place them roughly six to twelve inches above the height of the door handle. Given that most contractors install the doorknob around 36 inches from the floor, a deadbolt should be positioned somewhere around 42 inches to 46 inches off the floor.
Most homeowners split the difference and install it roughly 44 inches from the floor.
Keep in mind that other types of locks may be better installed at the top of the door. These can include popular options like hook and eye latch locks that prevent the door from opening further than a certain amount. Be sure to weigh all of your options when deciding on security features for your home.
Installing New Door Handles
Fortunately, installing new door handles in your home is not a difficult task. It should take you no more than a few minutes to whip out your handy tape measure and a drill to install your new hardware. While some doors will already have spots lined up for your hardware, you may be required to place it yourself. Using these guidelines, you can install a door that comfortably opens and shuts in your home.
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Specializing in building and renovating homes, Thomas Luttrell has worked in homebuilding since 2002. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English from Iowa University.
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