Door hardware is evolving, as advances in technology make peepholes and door knockers mementos of a time past and intrigue only a small faction of collectors.
Now, the focus is on security, stability, contemporary style, efficiency and technological components, according to two local authorities.
Heavy, solid brass, bronze and steel hardware is popular and secure, but a large variety of new colors and metal finishes are sweeping the market.
Polished nickel is the hot finish right now.
Alan Brown, owner of Russell Hardware in Birmingham, said that polished nickel is replacing polished chrome. The difference, he said, is that polished nickel is a warmer color and has a gold tint, while chrome is cooler and bluish.
Hardware salesperson Birgit Antos, of Architectural Design & Woodwork in Shelby Township, added that a finish called “tumbled white,” a “bronze with a sort of gunmetal look, but an aging to it,” also is rising in popularity.
“There are so many different varieties now,” Antos said, “from ultra contemporary to European, all the way back to very traditional, and everything in between.”
She said Emtek, the company from which she orders hardware, carries a Tuscan line with half a dozen different finishes alone.
Brown said that manufacturers also are using wax coatings to replace lacquer coatings as a way to protect the finish.
Another trend, Antos added, is the reinvention of the crystal doorknob.
“People used to have traditional crystal knobs that were kind of more decorated,” she said. “In the new line of crystal knobs, the glass is very sleek, very modern-looking, so it’s a new twist on an old product.”
She said a lot of the aging population is choosing levers rather than knobs as arthritis sets in, since the lever puts much less pressure on the wrists and fingers than turning a knob.
Brown said the law mandates that most commercial buildings have lever handles.
As for security and locks, Brown said he recommends a three-point or multilock system, which latches the door at the top, middle and bottom.
“It makes for a very, very secure door,” he said. “They originally used to be used on a lot of lake houses and property in extreme weather, but now they are more common.”
Antos swore by the power of the deadbolt.
“The deadbolt goes flat into the jamb of the door and provides the best security, and, really, when you go past that, someone who wants to break in will break the doorjamb or the glass, if there’s any glass,” she said.
Now that people are choosing doors with a lot of windows, she said it has made the peephole obsolete, and that she rarely gets calls for door knockers, either.
“It’s not like it used to be,” Brown said. “Many people have cameras, so they aren’t peeking through a viewer anymore but, rather, pulling it up on a 60-inch Samsung TV.”
He said there is definitely a move toward integrating exterior doors with home security systems, locks and even lighting.
Both Antos and Brown agreed that residential kick plates are more decorative than functional.
Antos said the most popular door she sells is made out of South American mahogany, which was grown in a rainforest and can withstand Michigan rains and weather changes.
Brown recommended buying a door without any drilled holes in it, which provides a wider range of choices when deciding which types of handles, locks and hardware to select.
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