Door Handle Vs Knob – Which To Choose?

Door handles and knobs are vital door hardware you need to consider in your home improvement projects. Both kinds enhance the appearance and convenience of using doors. Even though their functions are similar, it is all up to you to choose the door hardware that suits your needs. In this post, we've pulled together the differences between door handles and knobs.

Both door handles and doorknobs help control the opening or closing of doors. The key differences between the two will depend on the shape, convenience, and the home's overall style. Door handles look like levers while doorknobs have a round shape. Door handles require less effort when opening compared with doorknobs. The style of the house can also influence when choosing the door handle or knob. Door handles integrate well with modern design, while doorknobs are good options for older styles.

Aside from those mentioned above, also consider the function of the door and the needs of the people who will use the door. Children and elders must feel at ease when using the door. There is no right or wrong option when choosing your door hardware. Continue reading to find out if a door handle or a knob is best for your needs.

A collaged photo of a stainless steel door knob and a door handle, Door Handle Vs Knob - Which To Choose?

What Is The Difference Between Door Knobs And Handles?

Before knowing the difference, you need to know the similarities between door handles and knobs. Door handles and knobs both work to engage or disengage a latch bolt from a strike plate. Both handles and knobs also add to the aesthetics of doors with a variety of finishes to match the overall home style.

Door Handle

Traditional door handles have a backplate attached to the door. The most common door handle types are lever-operated, which makes it convenient to open the door. When opening the door, you only need to push down the lever.

There should be enough distance from the door handle to the door frame to prevent you from getting knuckle rash or scrapes. Also, when there are emergencies, you do not need great force to open the door when using a door handle. That is why it is a good choice to install door handles when there are children or elders.

A brass polished door handle installed in a hand wood door

For the older style of homes, choosing door handles may not suit well for doors previously fitted with mounted rim locks. As to the shape of the handle, you are more prone to get caught with it, which creates a hazard. Door handle levers also need more maintenance to prevent loose springs.

Door Knobs

For doorknobs, the design is so simple and suits well with older styles of homes. You can choose an oval or egg-shaped knob that allows more grip and leverage. When doorknobs fit with appropriate latches, the knob can turn in either direction regardless of the positioning of your door. There are also dummy door knobs you can use for decorative purposes.

A stainless steel door knob installed in the front door

The downside of using door knobs is that you need to exert more effort when opening. This might be a problem for weak children and the elderly. Door knobs must also have enough frame clearance to avoid the scraping of knuckles.

How Does a Door Handle Work?

The door handle determines the position of the latch. The handle also manipulates the latch, which is also integral door hardware. When pushing down a lever handle, the spindle connecting to the latch rotates to unlock the door. The force transmitted retracts the latch bolt that unlocks the door.

A stainless steel door handle installed in a wooden front door

Can You Replace a Door Knob With a Handle?

If you are gearing towards a fresh appearance for your doors, you can replace your doorknobs with a handle. Compared to the simple doorknob, replacing the knobs with handles adds some elegance or a modern vibe to your door. Before installing a new door handle, you need to consider these things:

  • Position of the lever (whether left or right)
  • Measurement of the backset
  • Door thickness
  • Bore/hole sizes
  • Keys for lock sets

Are Door Knob Locks Safe?

Doorknob locks provide additional security for doors. These knob locks are common in residential exterior doors. The problem with door knobs is that they are easily broken or drilled. The locking cylinder easily breaks with a hammer or a wrench. With the holes drilled, a burglar could easily unlock the deadbolt.

A violet colored front door with a black colored door knob

To prevent any trespassing, you can replace your knob locks with simple passage knobs, as long as you use a deadbolt. Some doorknob and deadbolt sets come with secondary locks, which adds another layer of security. If you have not purchased one, you can also make use of chain locks or sliding latch and bolts.

Check out this door chain on Amazon.

Should All The Door Knobs In a House Match?

There are no rules to follow when choosing the style and finish of your door hardware. All design and style decisions are up to your own preferences. There are design "families" of door hardware that have a coordinating theme. You can also mix and match if you follow your own style. Here are some things to consider:


As much as possible, stick with the same finish with other door hardware like hinges or latch plates. If you can, choose knobs with a similar design family. Aside from the design, also make sure that the sizes are just proportionate to other doorknobs. You do not need the size of the knob to be exact. Just make sure your knobs are not too big or too small compared to other doorknobs.

Split Finishing

A split finish means that a majority of your doorknobs coordinate with each other. You can have a different finish for interior doors, like the bathroom and kitchen doors. If you have a bronze finish for your exterior doors, make the interior door knobs nickel. Once the interior doors close, it makes the exterior doors coordinated. Doorknob finishes like chrome or stainless steel suit well for bathroom doors due to their water resistance.


If matching gives you a headache, you could blend the styles for your doorknobs. Similar door hardware finishes like chrome, nickel, and stainless steel go well with modern homes. Wrought iron and antique brass will go well for rustic-style homes. You can do this if you do not want to have ordinary doors.

Do Door Knobs Have To Match Hinges?

Like doorknobs, you do not need to match them with your hinges. The choice of matching your door hardware is all up to your style, preferences, and of course, your budget. You can check if the finish of your door hinges and knobs go well with the color and style of your doors. It is easier to blend than to match your door hardware.

For a cohesive look, you can choose a brushed nickel finish for both doorknob and hinges if you have stainless steel appliances and fixtures.

Check out this exterior knob and hinges set on Amazon.

In Closing

Door hardware decisions can make or break the overall design of your house. Door handles and knobs differ in their shape, ease of use, and finishes. Both door handles and knobs function to enhance the appearance and function of doors. It is important to understand how each handle or knob adds to security purposes. The style and finish are just secondary. It is also not necessary to match your doorknobs, hinges, and other door hardware. It is better to be consistent or blend the styles to get creative with your style.

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