ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Residential Lever Designs

Updated on August 22, 2014

This article provides a partial overview of residential grade cylindrical lever locks available on the market today.

In my experience as a locksmith, all residential levers are problematic in terms of longevity and reliability. In compliance with Newton's Law of Gravity, whatever goes up must come down, levers inevitably sag over time. They also break much more easily than knobs because of the much greater force exerted by the lever (because of leverage) on the mechanism than that which is exerted by a doorknob. Therefore I recommend avoiding levers in all residential applications in which ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance is not an issue, for example, your own house.

Nevertheless it is also my experience as a Hardware Genius that residential levers are much more popular than doorknobs. They are easier to use (the original intent behind the design) and people find them more attractive. Go figure. Both knobs and levers look like door hardware to me.

One's choice of levers is divided pretty equally, it seems, between attempted quality and press-fit, robot-assembled stuff that is good for about 5 years or less given any use. Within these two choices there are some incremental choices - some low quality hardware is better than some other low quality hardware, for example. But the difference between the relatively cheap stuff and the levers designed and constructed with an attempt at quality workmanship is stark. The difference in price is also stark.

Following are some examples.

Baldwin Hardware

I found Baldwin Hardware levers to be the best made of those I worked with. As a locksmith, I found one of the main advantages to Baldwin Hardware products was the availability of replacement parts. To the consumer, this meant that one could repair their expensive passage set instead of replacing it. Another advantage was the precision in which the pieces were designed and manufactured. Baldwin levers fit together well without a lot of lateral "play" to cause wear, for example, between the lever and the rose. As I look at today's installation instructions, it appears these products continue to be manufactured with the same kind of precision.

Visually, the quality of the finish is very apparent to the discerning eye. The feel of the hardware is also superior - the smoothness of the finish, the strength of the spring, etc.

One of the disadvantages I found with Baldwin hardware was difficulty in installation, even for a professional, because of the precision required. Even if you can drill a perfectly straight hole, variables such as door bevel or minor thickness differences can make installation challenging. Another disadvantage is that Baldwin uses an old-fashioned spindle and set screw system to attach their levers. The set screws tend to loosen, causing the levers to droop. Homeowners are lazy about tightening them, so the next thing you know, the spindle is ruined as the users drag the set screw around the spindle, scoring irreparably. Even if you give them the hex wrench provided with the hardware and instruct them on how to use it, and the importance of keeping the set screws tight, it is a rare end user indeed who will take the time to actually tighten their set screws when they need it. Best, therefore, as a hardware dealer, to keep a good supply of spindles and set screws on hand for your customers who will doubtless need them.

Omnia Industries

A slight step down from Baldwin Hardware in both price and quality is Omnia Industries, sample designs shown at right. Something Omnia offers that Baldwin does not is a wide variety of stainless steel designs. Most end users prefer a warmer look than stainless steel, but stainless steel is hard to beat for durability of finish. Otherwise, Omnia offers a wide variety of lever designs, a few of which are shown here.

Like Baldwin, Omnia uses a spindle and set screw design for lever attachment, therefore once again it is advisable for a hardware dealer to carry replacement spindles and set screws anticipating that they will wear out. (Set screws also have a tendency to get lost, of course, because they're small.)

Schlage Lock Company

Schlage is probably the most famous lock company on the planet. Widely sold at stores like Home Depot (you may find Baldwin and/or Omnia at these places as well), Schlage enjoys almost universal name recognition with contractors, hardware installers and security professionals worldwide.

A few of Schlage's residential lever designs are shown at right.

Schlage's main business is security and architectural hardware for facilities like schools, hospitals and high rise office buildings for which they make high quality, grade one products. Schlage's residential division produces hardware that is much different than most of the architectural products offered by Schlage. Whereas Schlage's architectural products are replaceable, Schlage's residential products are pretty much disposable. It is reasonable to expect F series and FA series locks to have a lifespan of around five years.

The residential division of Schlage has grown over the years and now Schlage enjoys a good share of the residential market. Schlage residential products offer decent quality at a relatively reasonable price and very quick and easy installation on standard doors.

Kwikset

Kwikset has always specialized in residential lock sets and is widely used and respected by contractors across the United States and elsewhere. Widely available at lumber yards and other residential hardware outlets, Kwikset levers are very competitively prices and offer a number of attractive designs.

Like Schlage F and FA series, Kwikset levers offer quick and easy installation on standard doors. They produce a reasonably good installation for a relatively low price. Also, like the Schlage residential products, Kwikset levers are for the most part disposable rather than repairable, and it is reasonable to expect a lifespan of about five years out of one of their levers given moderate use in normal conditions.

There are many, many more manufacturers of residential levers and more come and go every year. The choice is whether to spend more money up front for a Baldwin or Omnia level product that will need periodic repair, but will likely last well over ten years in normal circumstances, or a Schlage Residential or Kwikset level product that will last around five years under normal conditions, after which you will throw it away and buy new.

I speak of normal conditions. None of the levers above is going to be any good at all for installation in a commercial, high frequency use application like an office building or a hospital. One could expect a residential lever to last less than a year in such an application. Similarly if you happen to have a door in your house that gets used 50 times a day, you might want to consider a less attractive but far more durable commercial lever to do the job.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much, Jay! I can't imagine a higher compliment to my work on door hardware here.

    • profile image

      Jay 8 years ago

      Tom,

      I have read all your articles on door hardware. You should consider putting together a course for new locksmiths. When I first started my training as a Locksmith, I would have killed for such well written and easy to understand information.

      I beleive you would put the online programs to shame.

    • profile image

      ralwus 9 years ago

      I'll bet ti did enrich you. It is fascinating how they have evolved. thanks Tom. Mercury is bad

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

      I used to have a collection of Victorian mercury-filled glass doorknobs. My wife will deny she made me throw them away ... LOL

      ok I admit it was ultimately my decision

      As a locksmith in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, I had many opportunities to work on unique locks such as big, solid brass rim locks on the thick mahogany doors of town houses to bizarre old safes. These experiences enriched my life.

    • profile image

      ralwus 9 years ago

      Nice hub Tom. As an all round handyman I can relate to this one very well. Hey, have you a collection of old locks? Have you investigated the history of locks as well? I find it an interesting topic, like an old out house lock made with some string and a piece of wood like a puzzle.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

      You're welcome, Gypsy! Hardware is a many-splendored thing.

      A bonus feature, Candie!

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      My cats love these kinds of door handles!! No "opposable thumbs" required!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Who ever would have thought there were so many considerations for door hardware. Thanks for the info.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)