I have a lever-type door knob on one of my bedrooms and I like it a lot more than the ordinary round knobs. I am considering replacing all the door knobs in the house with levers. Is there any reason to not do this? Why do people use round knobs at all?
In my experience, and in general terms...
- Familiar (in the U.S)
- Low-profile (more compact horizontally)
- Funcional with ambidexterity/symmetry/bidirectionality (operate the same from any side--some levers only function downward)
- Non-snagging (and slightly more secure for this reason)
- Less expensive due to production cost and/or sales volume
- Better suited to some tastes and home styles
- Familiar (in Europe and elsewhere)
- Handicap-friendly (and, conversely, not as child-secure)
- More striking in appearance
- Likely to catch on straps and clothing on occasion
- Better suited to some tastes and home styles
It‘s interesting how these things differ among cultures!
In Europe (Germany for sure, but I never observed a difference in other European countries) basically all doors have levers. Here you install a knob only when you need the feature that it becomes more difficult open a door for pets and toddlers.
However, in most of these cases you can already get away with putting the handle upright, so knobs are really rare.
My wife and I moved into a home with lever door handles. One big downside was our young children, who instantly knew how to open them and escape. You can't childproof these easily either (they have devices, they just don't work as well).
To add another bullet point to supplement the other good answers: While most exterior doors are pretty close to air tight and security is generally not a concern for interior doors, locks on lever-type handles are typically easy to bypass if there is any sort of gap at the bottom of the door (typical of interior doors). This can be a benefit if you know and trust everyone you live with and a door accidentally gets locked with no one inside the room, but if you have a slightly suspect house mate, round knobs with a security lock have an advantage.
For example, back when I was in college, many students found that they could easily use a clothes hanger to enter their own or someone else's locked dorm room using a clothes hanger underneath the door from the outside to pull down on the newly installed lever-style handles facing the interior of the room. The college replaced all the knobs on the interior side of the dorm rooms as a result.
The one mayor hidden disadvantage is that they need a spring to keep the lever/handle in horizontal position.
I found after moving to a 20 years old house that some of them were not horizontal, but in a falling/diagonal position. They didn't latch the door, and don't look nice, as can be seen at the begining of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_y2_sCDnj4
Furthermore, the spring in the lever is not standard, and finding one that suits a handle that is not manufactured anymore is not an easy task. You can get more information on that in this site.
One disadvantage of using levers is mentioned in this article in The Economist - they may be more easily opened by bears (and velociraptors).
True, elderly and disabled people find it easier to operate doors with handles. But so do bears. In British Columbia, bears have been known to scavenge for food inside cars—whose doors have handles, knob advocates point out. Pitkin County, Colorado, in the United States, has banned door levers on buildings for this very reason. One newspaper columnist in the pro-knob camp has noted that the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park” were able to open doors by their handles.
Lever doorknobs are now mandated by the ADA (Velociraptors with Disabilities Act) because they are much easier to operate for people with poor motor skills (or very short arms). That's why they are practically universal in commercial buildings.
Keep in mind ADA is not a "fist of God" requirement, and the primary doctrine of ADA is "readily achievable", or in new construction "unless impractical", hence the ability of a town to override it for cause of bears.
As far as snagging clothes, that is particularly a problem for firemen due to their gear, and also can snag fire hoses. As such an enhancement was mandated in public spaces:
And this is a pretty good idea overall. This is the only kind I would install.
Our cats can open our doors with levers.
As Mazura summarized, "Levers don't have as many aesthetic options as knobs."
My house has four types of door "knobs". Just looking at the hardware, you can tell how it should be opened. From most common to least common:
- Small (non-rotating) knobs: Swing the cabinet door open.
- Large vertical handles: Slide the pocket door sideways.
- Modest horizontal handles: Pull the cabinet out.
- Normal (rotating) knobs: Twist the knob, and swing the door open.
The (few) interior doors that have "normal" (rotating) knobs have glass/"crystal" knobs, because they look nice in our style of house.
I like the contrast between the knobs and the handles; it makes it easy to tell how to operate the door. Lever-style knobs would not have as much contrast (vs. handles), and are not needed/available for cabinet doors.
My mother uses a walker and she moved into an apartment complex with some flat, but sharp, lever handles (i.e. not rounded). She kept hitting them and cutting her hand.
I replaced them with some rounded levers. But be aware of those older ones from a time when people were not concerned with sharp edges (not a problem on doorknobs).