Why Do Push Doors Have Handles?

Seeing a door handle on a door that you're supposed to be pushing can really make you confused. Your mind tells you to use it to pull on the door instead. Why do they have handles anyway? There's a valid explanation behind this coming from our door experts.

Push doors have handles to facilitate ease of operation, for decorative purposes, and to help achieve symmetry. But it is important to consider the design, size, and how they fit on the door to be able to achieve their intended purpose.

Hang on so we can explain to you further why they have to put handles on a push door, what these handles are called, how push-pull door handles work, how to know if a door is a push or pull, and how to fix a broken push lock door handle. Let's get started!

A brushed metal black door handle with lock and keys. Why Do Push Doors Have Handles

Handles On Push Doors

We get it. It can be confusing to see a handle on a push door. Our brain automatically tells us to pull whenever we see a door handle. Then we belatedly realize that it's a push door, much to our embarrassment as other people are already waiting in line to be able to get in as well.

But push doors come with a handle for different reasons below other than to cause confusion.

Ease of Operation

Confusing as it may be, a push handle is meant to facilitate the use of the door by making it easier for you to open the door. You have a bar to grab onto as you push it away from you.


Push handles come in various shapes, finishes, and sizes. You can even have yours customized if you want to. They can add character to an otherwise plain-looking door.


It's all about balance. Having handles on both the push and pull sides of the door creates symmetry. There's a pleasing proportion to both sides and you don't have that sense that something is missing.

These are some of the reasons why push doors have handles. However, it will all boil down to the design of the handles to achieve their intended purpose. It should eliminate the guessing game of whether to push or pull. A well-designed door handle is user-friendly aside from being an eye-candy.

brown wood door with wood stain and stainless steel door handle

How Do You Know If A Door Is Push Or Pull?

Oftentimes, push and pull doors have signages on them to keep people from guessing if they have to push or pull on a particular side of the door. There's a sign that says "Push" or "Pull" to instruct users on what to do.

A Reddit user shares a helpful tip that you can check the top of the door to determine if you have to push or pull it. If you see a header on the frame at the same side where you are standing, it is the push side of the door. If there's no header, it is the pull side.

However, this highlights the fact that the design of the door is very important to make it easier for people to use these doors even without the attached signages.

An example of a well-designed door is one that has a flat plate on the push side of the door rather than having similar handles on both sides. Since there's no door handle, the flat plate would immediately tell people that they have to push the door to be able to open it to eliminate the guesswork.

white painted door with chrome plated modern handle

What Are The Push Handles On Doors Called?

Doors come with different components and it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with their names so you know what to look for when you're shopping for door hardware.

The push handles on doors are called lever handles or door levers. These are commonly used in residential and commercial doors. There are 2 types of lever handles:

  • Door levers on a backplate—As the name suggests, these handles sit on a backplate. These are more traditional door handles. They come with different locking mechanisms depending on the purpose of the door.

  • Lever handles on a rose—They sit on a round or square plate which is smaller than the backplate. They feature a more contemporary design. They work with a latch but you can also add a separate locking mechanism for security purposes.

Both lever types are available in different designs, finishes, and sizes to cater to the needs and preferences of the buyers.

In the case of fire exits or emergency exit doors, the push handles are called panic bars, push bars, or crash bars. These bars are flat and horizontal that are attached to the outward-opening side of the door. When you push against them, the latch mechanism retracts, which allows you to open the door.

Click here to see this lever handle on a rose on Amazon.

How Do Push Pull Door Handles Work?

With the advancement in door handle technology, there are different push pull door handles that are available in the market. They make it convenient for people to use the door even when their hands are full and most of all, they won't confuse your brain if you have to push or pull to be able to open the door.

The push-pull door handles work by simply pushing or pulling on the handle and the door will open. The push or pull action will trigger the opening mechanism. This activates the movement of the springs which will open the lock of the door. As the springs settle back, the handle also returns to its original position.

The main difference from the traditional way of opening the door is that they no longer require users to press the handle or exert vertical pressure on it. Pushing or pulling on the handle is enough to open the door.

For example, you're carrying a baby and cannot grab the handle. You can just use your body to lean on the handle and you'll be able to push the door open. You don't have to turn the handle anymore to free the latch.

You just need to push or pull the handle depending on the direction of the door's movement for opening. This allows for a more convenient and smoother experience when you use the door.

The concept behind the push-pull door system is applicable to various types of door handles so it retains its usability while maintaining its decorative function and the need for symmetry on both sides of the door.

Check out this push pull door handle on Amazon.

How Do You Fix A Push Lock Door Handle?

The components on your doorknobs and their locks need regular maintenance for them to function properly.

If they become sticky or it's hard for you to turn the handle, check to see if there has been a buildup of dirt within the lock and proceed to clean this portion.

Another way to fix the issue is through proper lubrication so that these parts will be able to move easier. Here's how to do it:

  1. Using a screwdriver, loosen the screws that hold the knob in place.
  2. Pull off both halves of the door knob.
  3. Look for the push button in the knob's interior and press it using the screwdriver. This will release the button.
  4. Clean every piece of the door knob using a microfiber cloth.
  5. Lubricate the parts.
  6. Put the pieces back together.
  7. Reinstall the door knob in its place.
  8. Test by inserting the key to lock and unlock the door.
  9. You can also tighten the screws of the strike plate on the door frame if they have become loose.

That's it! Your push lock door handle should be back in good working condition.

modern style door installed on a brown mdf door. Why Do Push Doors Have Handles

Final Thoughts

Push doors have handles—not to confuse us but to make it easier for us to use these doors. Besides, we cannot deny that they help make doors more attractive with their different designs, styles, and finishes.

For some related reading regarding door handles, you may visit the following links:

Door Handle Vs Knob – Which To Choose?

Do Doors Come With Holes For Handles?

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