Decorative Residential Hardware

Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS
Sun, Jan 31, 2010


Residential hardware can be much more than deadbolts and lock sets. In recent years, residential hardware has come along from the extremes of the lower-priced hardware used by tract builders to the higher-priced custom residential hardware used by speculation builders. Today, there are medium priced, good grades of hardware worth adding to your inventory of goods.
Many homeowners would like to have a dead bolt installed or a lockset rekeyed. To this customer, why not offer a better grade entrance handle or lockset?
Getting involved with better products can mean the potential for more referrals from your customers. Anyone who notices good hardware is likely to ask where it can be purchased.
It is always best to try to sell up to better quality, longer lasting hardware, rather than to sell down to satisfy a budget and only have to replace it much sooner. Many customers would gladly pay extra for a better grade hardware if the difference is explained accurately, and they know you will stand behind your product.
What is the difference? Commonly used residential grade hardware is made from die cast metal or is steel brass plated. This keeps the cost down, but may also lower durability and reliability. Some manufacturers even provide die cast cylinders which do not match the lock finish. A brass plated finish is not durable because the steel beneath the brass plating will rust and eventually show through the thin brass plating. The die cast parts wear quickly and unevenly. This grade is great for the tract builder, for apartment construction and low-rent housing, but not for a customer who wants an upgrade and apprreciates quality.
Most brass plated hardware is polished, then lacquered for protection of the finish. As soon as the lacquer wears or is scratched, the brass plating will oxidize and tarnish. The only solution is to replace the hardware or strip off the lacquer, repolish and re-lacquer, a costly and time consuming process. The better grade residential hardware is made from solid brass, which provides greater durability, a better finish, better appearance, with all the exposed parts matching in finish. Some manufacturers will even guarantee the brass finish for the life of the lockset. The lifetime finish will appeal to many homeowners who want to dress-up their front door. The interior parts of this grade of lockset are often made of metal construction and not die cast. These features offer greater durability.
Also, this better grade of lockset is available in a tubular design or cylindrical design. The cylindrical lock design is far superior because of the chassis construction. Springs in the chassis, along with the springs in the latchbolt, assure complete latchbolt retraction and extension. This cylindrical lock chassis design is the same design used in commercial grade locksets.
When you purchase an entrance handleset or lockset and dead bolt combination, or both, be sure to purchase from the same manufacturer. The finish and design will match, and your customer will be further satisfied. Keep a supply of manufacturer’s catalogs handy to help you during a sales presentation. A mounted sample is also helpful, dusted and free from sratches. Most manufacturers will replace a mounted sample if it is worn or scratched from displaying, sometimes at no cost.
Manufacturers that offer better grades of residential locksets include Cal-Royal, Weiser, Kwikset, Baldwin and Schlage, among others.
You have definite advantage among your competition - a builder’s hardware distributor, wholesaler, or home builder’s supply- because you can install what you sell. Many homeowners, or even small builders, would gladly pay the extra cost for the installation. Bear in mind that they are upgrading their hardware and are seeking a professional.
Extra care is needed when installing this grade of hardware. You must not mar the finish in any way. Any scratch, nick, gouge, or any kind of blemish will stick like a sore thumb on a solid brass set. If you are to use power tools for installation, be sure the clutch is adjusted to the lowest setting to avoid avoid damaging the screw heads. If you use an electric drill to install the screws, you could “wring” out the phillips head, which could be readily noticeable. It will lead to a dissatisfied customer and the loss of potential refferals.
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s template and instruction sheet during installation. If the template calls for a 2 1/8” diameter bore for the lockset or handle set and a 1 5/8” diameter bore for the deadlock, be sure to do so. Some installers tend to drill a 2” or 2 ¼” diameter bore for the deadlock, which can work, but is not acceptable in a first class installation. The deadlock has less of a chance to float in the bore if the hole is the correct size. If the manufacturer’s template calls for a 2 1/8” diameter bore for the deadlock, it is important to do so and not to deviate from the manufacturer’s instructions and template.
Installation and replacement sets will be on a door that is already finished, be it wood, metal or fiberglass. You can have 1/8” or ¼” plywood or door skin on hand to place between your boring jig and the door face for protection. You can get this material from scrap hollow core wood doors-just cut a piece of the veneer off and keep it on hand. You’ll need each piece to be about 4”x4”, and they can be reused many times. I have also seen some locksmiths use packing materials such as thin closed cell foam to protect the door. For my jig, I carefully used an adhesive to attach leather to my jig, and it has lasted many, many years in protecting the face of the door from the jig. It is also wise to feel the door if it has recently been painted, as will often be the case, and be extra careful not to allow your jig to move at all and cause the paint to peel when you remove your jig.
When installing a handleset, be sure to clamp a piece of this material on the side of the door opposite to the spot where you are to drill the mounting screw hole at the bottom of the handle. This will prevent “split out” caused by the drill bit. Also drill a small size pilot hole first. Then follow through with the correct size drill bit. Be sure the hole is aligned and perpendicular to both sides of the door. A wallowed out hole certainly does not look very professional. One way to prvent this and to assure the hole is the correct size is to use one of the many excellent drill jigs available.
You don’t have to stop after installing a good, bright brass handle set or lockset and deadbolt set. How about a brass kickplate (not a steel-brass plated or anodized brass aluminum kickplate) installed on either or both sides of the door? A kickplate can enhance the door’s appearance. You may also suggest a solid brass door knocker, solid brass house numbers or even a solid brass mail box or mail slot. Another item you may consider is a matching escutcheon plate to fit behind the lockset and deadbolt set. This gives the appearance of a mortise lockset and dresses up the area between the lockset and dead bolt. Some entrance handle sets are made this way.
Take advantage of the chance to sell something better. The chance to offer your customer a larger variety and a better grade of door hardware is your opportunity to provide a much more reliable, longer lasting installation. Obtain some catalogs, increase your knowledge of products available, and watch your sales justify your time and investment.