12th Dec 2022 -

When looking for the ideal door handle, you’ll need to consider several factors such as usage, design, and look. Door handles serve a practical purpose, but will also need to blend within a house or commercial building aesthetically. Once you’ve picked the ideal look and design for your door handle, you must install it correctly within the door to ensure long-term functional use.

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The Elements of a Door Handle

Door handles will typically be connected to a latch mechanism, ensuring that a door will stay shut unless the handle is used. Here are some of the key aspects of a full mechanical door handle. These are sometimes referred to as door furniture.

Spindle Bar

As door handles will need to be installed on both sides of most doors, spindle bars will be used to keep both sides in equal places and to operate the latch. They will be connected to the handle or knob, turning as they are rotated. Door handles will normally be supplied with a spindle, but replacements can be bought as they wear over time. They are square and made of metal, typically 8mm wide on each side.


The latch is the mechanical component within a door that keeps it shut. The latch will typically have an extruding latch bolt, which will hold the door in place within the frame and can be recalled through the handle, opening the door. A latch can also have a deadbolt, a thicker extruding element used to lock a door, activated with a key.


The backplate is the solid element behind a lever or knob, attached to your door on both sides. These can be different shapes, but will typically share the look of the handle. They will be screwed into a door.

Strike Plate

This is the metal element that will be installed to a door frame, keeping the latch in place and the door shut.

Popular Door Handle Designs

Door handle designs range from handles and knobs to pull doors, with the option of a deadbolt handle to offer security or privacy.

Pull Handles

More commonly used within commercial environments like shops, offices, and communal shared housing, pull doors will have a self-closer instead of a latch, and will have a pull bar handle. These can be purchased for industrial doors, often with “Pull” printed on them, or in more stylish designs for workspaces. They are rarely used in residential locations.

Lever on Backplate Handles

Lever on backplate door handles are probably the most common design, used on both commercial and residential doors. They will have a turn lever installed on a larger backplate, with fixings that are typically visible. A traditional look is for a long, thin backplate, sometimes with a lock installed below the lever for a deadbolt.

Lever on Rose Handles

Similar to levers on backplate handles, a lever on rose door handle will feature a far smaller backplate, designed for a stylish look that obscures fixings. If looking to include a lock it will either need to be installed separately below the rose, or you can opt for a lever that includes a lock within it.

Deadbolt Handles

Typically lever on backplate, a deadbolt handle will allow the door to be locked, either with a key or a thumbturn lock. A deadbolt lock with a key is a great choice for private spaces like bathrooms and bedrooms, while thumbturn locks are great for public bathrooms, allowing them to be locked from the inside.

Door Knobs

For a more traditional rounded look, door knobs are available in a wide range of sizes. They can be installed with a standard backplate or a smaller rose option.

Fire-Rated Door Handles

If you are installing a fire door within a building, all handles, latches, and other mechanical elements will need to be fire rated to the same level, normally either 30 or 60 minutes. Many fire doors are sold complete, with fire-resistant handles included.

door handle on white wooden door

Door Handle Visual Choices

You’ll have a range of styles and finishes to choose from once you’ve decided on the right design for your project. Lever door handles are often made from metal, whether that’s chrome, aluminium, or brass. Door knobs can be made from other materials like wood or porcelain.

Modern door handle styles tend to prioritise smooth, straight looks, with curvy designs considered more traditional. The same is true of backplates, with rectangular or rounded looks popular in modern designs, and gilded or shaped borders seen as a vintage or antique look.

Fitting Door Handles

While accuracy is important, fitting or replacing door handles is a job that accomplished DIYers can complete themselves with commonly owned tools.

What Height Should a UK Door Handle Be?

Door handles should be between 800mm and 1050mm from the floor, with 900mm seen as the preferable height under building regulations. If adding door handles within an existing building, you should measure the existing handles and attach them at the same height.

How to Fit a Door Handle

  • Choosing The Right Handle: The handle and latch you choose will impact the various aspects of how you install it, such as the size and placement of the holes you’ll need to drill. You’ll need to prop the door in place, to ensure it won’t move while you install the handle.
  • Marking: Mark out the height of the latch, using a tape measure, masking tape and a pencil on each of the three sides.
  • Drilling: Door handles should come with a template that can be used to clearly find the locations to drill. You should drill small preliminary holes with a 2mm bit. You should then consult the specific instructions of your handle and drill larger holes through the template. This will include the wider hole for the spindle bit, to which the lever or door knob will be attached.
  • Making a Hole For the Latch: By attaching masking tape to your drill you can ensure that you drill the correct depth for the latch on the door’s edge. You should trace around the edge of the latch on the edge of the door, before carving out the compartment for the latch with a chisel and hammer. You can insert the latch to make sure it fits correctly. When it does you can screw it into the door's edge.
  • Spindles and Handles: With the latch in place, you can make sure that your handles correctly attach to the spindles. Make sure that they are both working before screwing each backplate and handle to the door.
  • Attach Strike Plate: The strike plate will be installed on the side of the frame, helping the latch to stay closed. You’ll again need to chisel away a section large enough to contain the latch. Then you can screw in the strike plate.

How to Change a Replacement Door Handle

Removing a door handle is a relatively easy process, simply unscrewing and removing the handles and backplates followed by the latch. While you can replace them with a variety of designs, it’s best to choose a replacement model that corresponds to the same dimensions, to ensure that there aren’t any visible drill holes on your door and that it is securely fitted.

How to Fix a Door Handle

Issues with door handles are often fixable, caused by loose or misaligned screws, or by spindle bars that have been worn away. You can tighten or replace screws on the handles or backplates. You can also buy and install a replacement spindle bar, though you should check the dimensions of your current bar before purchase, as some are non-standard sizes. Making sure that the handles of your door are correctly aligned is also crucial, as this can cause issues.

Beautiful and Practical Door Handles For Sale

Building Materials Nationwide offers a range of door handles, latches, and other ironmongery for sale, with fast UK delivery. We work with customers across the professional and DIY space, offering a comprehensive selection of products. Within our Door Handles section, you’ll find a huge selection of door handles, with pull handles, a range of lever handles, and quality door knobs. These can be installed within our selection of internal and external doors.

Those working within the industry can take advantage of our trade accounts. Trade account holders are paired with a dedicated account manager, helping to streamline your ordering process, and able to find specific products for you through our network of suppliers. You’ll also get access to our express nationwide delivery options, and competitive trade pricing.

Open a trade account through our website today.