Archinet UK

Doors Resource: Door Fittings

We describe and illustrate here, in alphabetical order, the main categories of door fittings. They are: Automatic Doors, Door Bells, Door Bolts, Door Canopies, Door Chains, Door Closers, Door Crash Bars, Door Handles, Door Hinges, Door Holders, Door Knobs, Door Knockers, Door Letter Plates, Door Locks, Door Pivots, Door Plates, Door Stops, Door Viewers, Entry Control Systems, Finger Guards, Mailboxes, and Sliding Door Gear. Please see our separate sections for an explanation of the various types of
Door Operation and Door Construction.


Automatic doors open and close automatically, either by the user pressing a button, or by a sensor detecting the approach of a user. The main use of automatic doors is in shops and other public buildings, to provide easy access for the public while retaining heat or cool within the building. Automatic doors also provide easy wheelchair access. Another type of automatic door is the automatic garage door, which can be remotely operated using a remote control unit in the car.

The most common type of automatic door is the sliding door. Automatic equipment may also be fitted to hinged doors, but this does present the risk of the opening door colliding with someone approaching it.


There are three elements to door bells: the bell push, the sounder, and the system connecting the push to the sounder. Bell pushes are available in a wide range of styles, from simple rectangular bell pushes to reproductions of 19th century bell pushes, as shown on the right.

The simplest form of sounder is electronic, emitting a single or series of chimes. Some sounders contain chimes which can play a choice of tunes. Popular tunes for door chimes include: Happy Birthday, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Bizet's Carmen, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Fur Elise, and Auld Lang Syne. Some electronic sounders offer the option of downloading a tune of your choice from the internet. Alternatively the sounder can take the form of a traditional bell. Sounders are available which include a flashing light to alert the deaf.

There are two ways of connecting the bell push to the sounder: wired and wireless. Wired connection is the most reliable, and avoids the need for replacing batteries in both the bell push and the sounder. The advantage of wireless systems, particularly for replacing systems in existing buildings, is that they do not require any wiring. Also there is great flexibility as to where the sounder is place. Wireless systems can be fitted with more than one sounder, for example one in the kitchen and one in an upstairs landing. An example of a wireless door bell, with two bell pushes, is shown above.


Horizontal bolts are a traditional way of securing an external door from the inside. Bolts are also used to secure one leaf of a pair of french doors, so that the other can be opened independently. For this purpose bolts may be inset, either into the inside face or edge of the door. An example of an inset bolt is shown on the right.

Espagnolette Bolts

A specialist type of bolt, used on French doors and on pairs of casement windows, is the Espagnolette bolt. This has a rotating handle, attached through a lever action to long rods which run up and down the inside face of the door, at the edge away from the hinge. This enables top and bottom bolts to be conveniently extended or withdrawn, without bending down or reaching up, with one turn of the handle. An example of an Expagnolette bolt is shown to the right. 


Door canopies are porch-like roofs which can be fitted over an exterior door. They provide shelter from the rain while standing at the door, and can also be used as decorative feature. The roof of the door canopy may be covered with actual tiles, or may be a glass reinforced polyester (GRP) surface simulating tiles. The structure supporting the roofing is normally made of wood, and is usually designed to be fixed directly to the wall, without any support from the ground. Alternatively the whole structure may be made of GRP. Contemporary door canopies, including door canopies made of curved sheets of glass, are available.


A door chain is a security device, fitted to the inside of the door. It consists of a strong chain with a catch on the end. For security, the catch is slid into a retaining slide fixed to the door frame. With the door chain engaged in this way, the door can be opened a few inches to allow conversation but to prevent an intruder forcing their way into the house. The visitor having been indentified, the chain can be release to permit entry. Door chains are particularly popular with elderly and vulnerable people.


There are three main types of manual door closer: overhead door closers, floor inset door closers, and concealed door closers. There are also automatic door closers, which are electrically powered.

Overhead Door Closers

Overhead door closers are attached to the top of the inside of the door, and to the top of the inside of the door frame. A spring is used to store the energy used in the opening of the door; this energy is then used to close the door. The strength of the spring may be adjusted to produce a faster or slower closing. Most overhead door closers use hydraulic oil-filled dampers to avoid the door slamming. These dampers can be adjusted so that the door deccelerates and closes gently.

Floor Inset Door Closers

A similar spring and damper mechanism can be inset into the floor below the door. This is a more expensive approach, in terms of cost of equipment and installation, but avoids the unsightly appearance of an overhead door closer. Floor Inset Door Closers are mainly used in commercial situations, such as the entrances to office buildings, shops, and hotels.

Concealed Door Closers

Concealed door closers are cheap and simple devices fitted into the hinged edge of the door and the hinged edge of the door frame. The door frame needs to be drilled out to accommodate the spring mechanism (seen in blue in the image to the right) and the door also needs a recess cut to accommodate the other part of the mechanism. Concealed door closers contain a spring-loaded chain, similar to a bicycle chain, which is extended when the door is opened, and springs back to close the door. They are very neat in appearance, since nothing is visible when the door is closed, and only a small chain is visible when the door is open. However, they do not contain any damping mechanism, and therefore tend to close the door rather abruptly.

Automatic Door Closers

Automatic door closers are described in the Automatic Door Closers paragraph at the beginning of this section.


Door crash bars, also known as panic bars or push bars, are a safety device, mainly used on fire exits in public places such as theatres and cinemas. They are also used in emergency exits of office buildings. They prevent entry from the outside, but are designed so that a person or crowd pressing against the bar from the inside will release catches which allow the door to open outward for safe exit. Crash bars were developed in response to the Victoria Hall disaster in Sunderland in 1883 in which 183 children between the age of 3 and 14 were crushed to death trying to get out of an inward opening exit door. Crash bars came into widespread use in the USA after the Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago in 1903, during which 602 people died.


There are two main types of door handle: lever door handles and fixed door handles. Lever door handles, as shown on the right, operate a door catch. They have the advantage over door knobs that they are easier to turn, particularly for the elderly and others with a weak grip. They are are available in stainless steel, aluminium, brass, and chromed brass. Other specialist finishes such as antique bronze and brushed nickel, are also available. Designs may be traditional or contemporary.

Fixed door handles do not operate a catch, and used simply for grasping the door in order to open or close it. They may take the form of straight bars, held away from the door with rods, or D-shaped handles. Fixed door handles are widely used in commercial and public buildings. Small fixed door handles are used on kitchen cupboard doors.


We describe here the main types of door hinges, including Backflap Hinges, Butt Hinges, Concealed Hinges, Continuous Hinges, Double Action Hinges, Flush Hinges, Friction Hinges, Glass Door Hinges, Lift Off Butt Hinges, Loose Pin Butt Hinges, Parliament Hinges, Rising Hinges, and Tee Hinges. We also provide advice on screws for use with hinges.

Backflap Hinges

A backflap hinge is similar to a butt hinge, except that the flap of the hinge is longer than it is wide. Backflap hinges can be used for outside work, such as shed doors, where they can be mounted on the surface rather than (as with butt hinges) on the edge of the door. Backflap hinges can also be used for cupboard doors, with the flaps surface fixed to the back of the door and to the inside surface of the cupboard. Backflap hinges are easy and quick to fit, and a suitable for applications where appearance is not important.

Butt Hinges

The butt hinge is the most common type of door hinge. It is designed to be inset into the edge of the door, and into the door frame, so that it is invisible when the door is closed. Butt hinges are available in steel, stainless steel, brass, and chromed brass. The simplest form of butt hinge consists of two flaps (known as knuckles), connected by a pin. Washers may be incorporated. More sophisticated butt hinges incorporate ball bearings to take the weight of the door; these are recommended for heavy doors. The image above is of a butt hinge with ball bearings. 

Concealed Hinges

Concealed hinges, also known as Blum cabinet hinges, are widely used throughout Europe, particularly for kitchen cabinet doors. The design originated with the family-owned Austrian company Julius Blum Gmbh. The company was formed in 1952, its first product being a horseshoe stud. It developed its first concealed hinge in 1964. The original design of the Blum hinge has now been widely imitated, and variations of the Blum hinge are now available from many manufacturers.

Continuous Hinges

A continuous hinge, sometimes known as a piano hinge, is a long narrow hinge, of the kind traditionally used along the keyboard cover of a piano. Commonly made of brass or aluminium, continuous hinges give a neat appearance and are often used for doors in good quality furniture. They are fixed along their length with frequent small screws. An advantage of a continuous hinge over several shorter butt hinges is that no insetting (rebating) is needed.

Double Action Hinges

Double action hinges are used on swinging doors, which can swing in both directions. They can incorporate a self closing spring, so that they are automatically returned to the closed position. Swinging doors are widely used in restaurants and hotels to separate kitchens from dining areas. Because the doors swing in both directions and are self closing, staff can pass quickly through them in both directions, even when carrying things in both hands.

Flush Hinges

Flush hinges are lightweight and are used on wardrobe and cupboard doors rather than interior or exterior house doors. They would not be capable of carrying the weight of an interior or exterior house door. Flush hinges are very easy to install compared to butt hinges, because they do not need to be inset into either the door or the door frame. They are available in steel, brass, and chromed brass finish.

An ingenious cut-out design means that both flaps close into each other to form a single thickness of metal. To keep the gap between the door and the frame narrow, the metal is thin; this restricts the amount of weight which it can carry.

For greater strength a flush hinge can be cranked. The part fixed to the door is folded through 90 degrees. This enables the door to be screwed into on its face as well as its edge. An example of a cranked flush hinge is shown to the right.

Friction Hinges

Friction hinges contain a hinged stay which is gripped tightly by a sliding mechanism. This requires modest force to open or close the door, and retains the door, through friction, in any position. Friction hinges are commonly used on UPVC doors and windows, to avoid the need for a stay. Each manufacturer tends to use their own design; it is important when replacing a friction hinge to replace it with exactly the correct design.

Glass Door Hinges

Special hinges are needed for frameless glass doors. They clamp to each side of the glass, using fixing bolts. The glass must be drilled to take the hinges, handles, and locks. A neoprene gasket is inserted between the hinge and the glass to provide a soft but firm grip. Special versions of glass door hinges are available for fitting at the top and bottom of the glass door, rather than in the normal intermediate positions. Other versions are designed for glass doors which lie within glass screens.

Lift Off Butt Hinges

Lift off butt hinges are similar to normal butt hinges but are designed with just two interlocking sections. The pin is fixed permanently into the lower section, and the top section drops onto the pin. This enables the door to be easily lifted off.

This can be convenient, for example for the laying of carpet or re-painting. Lift off butt hinges are available in steel, stainless steel, brass, and chromed brass.

Loose Pin Butt Hinges

Loose pin butt hinges are designed exactly like normal butt hinges, but have a removable central pin. The loose pin can be lifted out, enabling the door to be easily removed, for example for painting or for carpet laying.

Loose pin butt hinges are are available in the same materials as normal butt hinges: steel, stainless steel, brass and chromed brass.

Parliament Hinges

Parliament hinges are have extended flaps (known as knuckles) so that the door can be folded right back against the wall. They are widely used for interior pairs of doors connecting two rooms. When opened, and folded back against the walls, the doors become unobtrusive, and a clear opening between the rooms is created. A variant on the parliament hinge is the projection hinge; the only difference is that the flaps (or knuckles) of a projection hinge are rectangular, and are therefore more prominent than the cut-away flaps of a parliament hinge.

Doors with parliament hinges, which can open 180 degrees, are known as parliament doors, a term originating in 1835.   

Rising Butt Hinges

Rising but hinges are similar to Lift Off Butt Hinges, in that they have just two interlocking sections, with the pin fixed to the bottom section. The joint between the two sections is at an angle, so that the door rises as it is opened. This allows clearance for rugs or carpeting. It also provides a self-closing feature, in that the door will close gently when it is released. Rising butt hinges are available in clockwise and anti-clockwise form. Clockwise rising butt hinges should be used when the hinges are on the right of the door and the door opens towards you. Anti-clockwise rising butt hinges should be used when the hinges are on the left and the door opens towards you.

Tee Hinges

Tee hinges are a traditional type of hinge, normally used on rustic-style planked doors. They are also used on outhouses, garden sheds, and garden gates, as they are robust and easy to fit. The simplest tee hinges are made of galvanized or black painted steel. For house doors, hand forged tee hinges are available; these give an authentic period look.

Screws for Hinges

To prevent corrosion, as well as for reasons of appearance, it is important to use screws of the same material (eg stainless steel, steel, or brass) as the hinge itself. A common size of screw for 4 inch hinges is a 1.25 inch No.10 wood screw. A common size for 3 inch hinges is a 1.25 inch No.8 wood screw.


There are three main types of door holder: door hooks, pedal door holders, and magnetic door holders. Door hooks, and example of which is shown on the right, are simple iron or brass hooks, which can be used to hold a door open. They are available in range of lengths.

Pedal Door Holders

Pedal door holders are used to keep a self closing door open. They consist of a vertical spring loaded rod, with a rubber ferrule fitted to the bottom. The fitting is fixed to the bottom of the door, at its edge away from the hinge. The pedal door holder is activated by pressing down with a foot on the rod. It is released by pressing down on a retaining catch. Pedal door holders are available in brass, stainless steel, and chromed brass, to match the other door fittings.

Magnetic Door Holders

Magnetic door holders are used to hold self-closing fire doors open. This provides ease of access and movement in normal conditions. Magnetic door holder are in two parts: a metal surface fitted to the door, and a unit containing an electro-magnet which is fitted to the wall. In the event of a fire the electro-magnet releases the door. For new build projects, magnetic door holders are normally wired into the building's fire alarm system. For existing buildings, wireless systems are available.


Door knobs are of two kinds: turning door knobs which operate a door catch, and fixed door knobs as sometimes fitted to the centre of a front door.

Turning door knobs were the common form of door handle used for internal doors throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 20th century the lever door handle became more popular, particularly because it could be operated more easily by the elderly and frail. Turning door knobs are still widely used for internal doors, and many designs are available in wood, ceramic, and metal. Some door knobs have concentric grooves to assist the grip. Ceramic door knobs are available with a wide range of decorative designs glazed into the surface; these include floral and geometric patterns.

Fixed door knobs are only used on front doors, are made of metal such as brass or bronze, and are substantially larger than door knobs for internal doors. Because they are fitted to the centre of front doors they are sometimes called a centre door knob. An example is shown to the right. 


Door knockers were originally fitted to front doors, before the days of door bells, for visitors to announce their arrival. They are now more frequently provided as a decorative feature. Traditional door knockers are produced in brass or cast iron. The knocker and the anvil against which it strikes can be fitted to the door as separate items, or can both be fitted onto a single plate, which is fixed to the door.

Speciality door knockers are made by artist craftsmen with a wide range of themes. These include: sailboat, bumblebee, scallop, acorn, horseshoe, and pineapple. An example of a sailboat door knocker, designed and produced by Michael Healey, is shown to the right.


A door letter plate is the front door plate containing a flap through which post can be delivered. In the 19th century door letter plates would be decorative items, in cast iron or cast brass, sometimes with the word 'Letters' embossed on them. Contemporary door letter plates tend to be of simple flat design, made of aluminium, stainless steel, or brass.


There are two main types of door lock: mortice locks and rim locks. Those providing higher security will have replaceable cylinder containing the key mechanism. These can be round, oval or Euro (a combination of round and oval) in section. A Euro cylinder is shown on the right. Additional security can be provided by registration of the owners of keys, with additional keys being made and sold only on proof of identity. Other specialist types of door lock include thumb turns, digital code door locks, card operated door locks, and fingerprint door locks.

Mortice Locks

The mortice lock is the traditional type of door lock, so called because it is inset into the edge of the door in a recess known as a mortice. Simple two-lever mortice locks are suitable for internal doors. For external doors insurance companies will require a stronger five-lever mortice lock. An example of a mortice lock is shown to the right. The key mechanism may be either a simple key (as shown on the right) or a more secure replaceable locking cylinder.

Rim Locks

Rim locks are fixed to the inside face of the door, with only a shallow plate being inset into the edge of the door. They are available with a wide variation in the security offered. The least secure is the traditional Yale type lock, with a round locking cylinder. The most secure are fitted with a replaceable oval or Euro locking cylinder.

An example of a secure rim lock, produced by Ingersoll, is shown to the right.

Thumb Turns

A thumb turn is a privacy lock, widely used in bathrooms and toilets. It enables the door to be locked from the inside. In case of emergency the door can be easily opened from the outside with a screwdriver. Thumb turns are intended to provide privacy not security. They are available in traditional and contemporary designs in stainless steel, aluminium, brass, and chromed brass. 

Digital Code Door Locks

A digital code lock has no key but a set of buttons. It requires the user to press specific buttons in a specific sequence to open the lock. They are widely used in commercial and industrial applications, and in schools.

Digital code locks are less secure than conventional locks, because with many people aware of the code it is quite likely that knowledge of the code will spread beyond authorised users. However the code can be changed, and it is wise to do this quite frequently. An example of a digital code lock is shown on the right.

Card Operated Door Locks

Card operated locks are widely used in commercial premises including offices and hotels. They form part of a general access control system, enabling specified users to have access to particular zones within the building. These systems are highly secure, because if a card is lost its code can be deleted. And access to each zone can be limited to those that specifically need entry. They are particularly useful in hotels, which have many different levels of access requirement for guests and staff.

An example of a simple card operated door lock, suitable for hotel use, is shown to the right. More sophisticated systems, for use in offices, provide quicker access by allowing the card to be pressed onto the lock, or passed close to it, instead of being inserted into the lock.

Fingerprint Door Locks

A fingerprint door lock recognises the fingerprint of authorised users. Like a card operated door lock, it can form part of an overall access control system, with different users being permitted access to certain zones within commercial, industrial, or educational premises.

Simpler fingerprint door locks, suitable for homes and small offices, will hold up to 100 fingerprints. Higher capacity systems for use in larger buildings can hold up to 1000 fingerprints. Fingerprint door locks are battery powered, and are capable of about 10,000 openings before the batteries need changing.


Door pivots are used instead of hinges on pivot doors. The bottom pivot takes the full weight of the door, and the top pivot, which is similar in design, keeps the top of the door in place. The bottom door pivot shown on the right is for a timber door. Special door pivots are available for frameless glass doors.


Door plates are designed to protect doors from the wear and tear of being pressed with a hand or foot. In the case of industrial and hospital premises they can also protect against impact from trolleys and other wheeled furniture.

Historically door plates, also known as finger plates, were decorative items, often moulded from brass or porcelain. Modern door plates are flat sheets of stainless steel, brass or aluminium, drilled with screw fixings for attachment to the door.


A door stop limits the swing of a hinged door, to prevent the handle hitting an adjacent wall and causing damage to the wall finish. The most common form of door stop is a metal stud or bracket, firmly screwed to the floor, with a rubber part to buffer the impact of the door on the door stop. An example is shown to the right.

An alternative design is a horizontal rod (which may take the form of a spring), with a rubber buffer on the end which is fixed to the skirting board. This avoids drilling into the floor.


A door viewer is an optical device, like a very small telescope, which is fitted t eye level into a hole drilled in a front door. It is a security device whose purpose is to enable to occupant of the house to identify a caller before opening the door. Although the hole is very small (typically about 10mm in diameter) a fish eye lens on the outside of the viewer allows a wide (albeit distorted view) outside the house.

Digital door viewers are also available, although they are very much more expensive that optical door viewers. Digital door viewers come in two parts, the camera and the viewer, which are battery powered and wirelessly connected. The advantages of a digital door viewer are that the picture is undistorted, and the viewer unit can be placed wherever convenient within the vicinity of the door.


Entry control systems are used in blocks of flats, where the security is at the front door on the street. There are two types: audio entry control systems and video entry control systems.

Audio Entry Control Systems

Audio entry control systems are sets of door bells for a block of flats, or a house divided into flats, which allow the occupant to speak to the caller. Having identified the caller, the occupant can remotely release the front door lock. It is necessary to have a self closing front door to the block of flats, so that security is maintained. Audio entry control systems comprise three elements: a door panel, a handset for each flat, and a control system.

Video Entry Control Systems

Video entry control systems are similar to audio entry control systems, except that they allow the occupant to see as well as speak to the caller. This is achieved by incorporating a video camera in the door plate, and a small digital screen in each handset.

The door plates for video entry control systems typically provide LED back-lighting of the names of the flat occupants. Colour and black and white options are available for the cameras.


A finger guard, also known as a finger protector or an anti-finger trapping device, removes the risk of fingers being trapped within the hinge of a door. They are used particularly in schools and nurseries. The finger guard consists of an expanding strip which is fixed to the edge of the door and the door frame on the face of the door away from the hinge pin. The expansion is achieved by opening a folded strip (as shown on the right), by opening a narrow roller blind mechanism, or by opening a concertina.  


Mail box systems are used to provide secure individual mailboxes for occupants of blocks of flats. They may be mounted on an exterior wall, or in a front entrance lobby, and are typically made of steel or aluminium. Each mailbox has an individual key, held by the occupant.

In new build projects, mail box systems can be mounted in an opening through the wall, so that they are accessed from within the building.


Sliding door gear is widely used for hanging sliding wardrobe doors. The components of a typical sliding door gear, all made of zinc plated steel, are shown on the right. The weight of the doors is taken on the top track, with small retaining brackets keeping the bottoms of the doors in position.

In addition to simple 'bypass' sliding doors, special sliding door gear is available for 'bifold' sliding folding doors and for 'round the corner' tambour doors.   


Publisher: Archinet UK is published by Extonet Ltd, which also publishes the Britain's Best Architects, Beesker, Reviews Index UK, and Wikigiving websites. It is financed only by Google advertising; no payment is received from websites included in our product guides.


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