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We have a new house (3 yrs old), and have been having problems with the door knobs all coming loose and sliding around. I thought it was something we were doing, but talked to a couple of neighbors, and they are all having similar problems. I figured this was another issue with “builder grade” hardware, but looking at the different manufacturers, I don’t see any sort of tiers. It looks like they mostly differentiate based on style.

Sine I’ve never seen this in any other house I’ve lived in, I assume there are better sets out there, but I’m not sure what to look for.

Any ideas for better hardware?

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Yes, there are tiers of lock product.

They are called Grades. They are denoted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), most famous for defining standard thread sizes, and computer languages such as COBOL and C.

However, in my experience, there are tiers within tiers.

For instance Home Depot will sell you a $60 Kwikset Class II deadbolt with a smile. I've paid $200 for a Medeco Class II lockset. These products are not equivalent. That Medeco has an unbelievably solid feel to it. It's tough. Honestly I'm surprised there's a tier above that.

(mind you this Medeco accepts "figure 8" exchangeable cores; since we're all up into Primus type "cannot duplicate" keys, and we need that feature.)

One difference is the Kwikset is sold by Home Depot, whereas I got the Medeco at a "Security Solutions" shop. I'm evading the word "locksmith" because most people think of a locksmith as someone you call in a panic, who shows up in a van, and $150 of the total bill is just for rolling the van. No no, I'm talking about a "trade" retail store (in an industrial park, with a counter you talk to a clerk who gets what you want from the back room). When you walk up, you get locksmith services at perfectly sane prices, including custom keying and all that bench work. This describes a small minority of locksmiths.

The simple fact is, Home Depot will never sell the $200 Medeco, because it won't move. Random consumers are hypnotized by Home Depot's own low prices, but also by nifty trinkets like the Nest, Ring etc. The only way they'd pay $200 for a lock-set is if you could unlock it with your phone.

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There are absolutely differences in level of quality for passage door knob sets and door lock sets. The main differentiation between them is largely price.

In years past I had noticed that there was differentiation by brand name. Some manufacturers just simply made better products that would also cost more. But as more of the business has gone to DIY and Big Box type home stores the higher end manufacturers have introduced new product at lower price points in order to compete. As you can imagine these lower priced products are just not built the same and are thus likely to be lower quality as well.

The one category that you can look for is "commercial" and you will generally get higher quality parts (also at higher prices). Take notice when you go to a commercial site such as a clinic or office building and make your own judgement as to the quality difference of door knobs compared to the ones you will find in the typical mass produced home.

Another factor at play is the difference in the way doors are made and the way knobs / lock sets are installed. In the old days doors were heavy duty solid wood construction with wood styles that may even have been 1.75 inches thick. These days doors are often hollow core with thin veneer skins or fiberboard skins. These newer types are aimed at lower cost and mass usage and the methods used to mount the catch part of the door knob (typically the cheaper models) is often just press fit into a round hole on the edge of door with no chiseled inset or fastening screws. This does in my experience lead to overall poorer performance and less quality operation of the door knobs.

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The best thing to do is make informed decisions based on research, reviews, manufacturer reputation etc.

Price is not always a true indicator of quality but it is generally a good indication of quality. ( of course there are exceptions to every rule.)

If you do not want to replace all of your door knobs, you could put some locktite on the screw threads so they do not work their way loose again.

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