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Replacing Your Old Locks

One of the more surprising situations for our customers here at Builders’ Hardware & Supply is arriving to our beautiful showroom to order new door hardware for your door and learning that we can’t just order you any lock.

We salespeople need some vital information to help you select the correct hardware for your door. To help you save time here are some steps to be ready to come in and order the correct door hardware for your door.

Type of Lock

If you are replacing an existing lock, the first step to figuring out what kind of lock or door hardware you need is to know what type of lock you are trying to replace.

Majority of time there are two different types of locks, mortise and tubular. The tubular lock is much more common in newer buildings, while a lot of older buildings are still using mortise locks.

Here is a picture of a tubular lock. As you can see it has a small square latch face that would stick out of the side of your door, so it can catch when it closes into the frame and stay shut.

Now here is a picture of a mortise lock. As you can tell this is a bit more complex than a tubular lock, with many more parts. It has a tongue sticking out of the side just like a tubular latch would, but the body of the lock is much different. A mortise lock would be much larger than a tubular lock, especially if it is an entry door lock.

We also always recommend bringing in your locks if possible, specifically mortise locks so we can help you find the exact right one if you are replacing an existing lock. For a more detailed depiction of the different types of locks read Mortise vs. Tubular Locks.

Door Prep

Of course knowing what type of lock you have (mortise or tubular) is the most important piece of information when replacing hardware, but another vital piece is knowing how your door is prepped.

Get your tape measure ready for these next couple of steps.

First, we want to measure the thickness of your door. Take your tape measure and just measure the edge of the door. This will determine your door thickness. The industry standard for exterior doors is 1 3/4 in, while interior doors are 1 3/8 in. Doors can be skinnier or thicker than these measurements as well, but not typically.

The next step is measuring your stile widths on the door. This picture should help you show what your “stile” is. Measuring this will help us determine what kind of locks can physically fit on your door. Some doors have thin stiles and only certain locks would fit on there. If your stiles are less than 4” then there could be some limits of what style trim you want for your lock and even whether it’s a mortise or tubular lock.

This next step might be the most important step in ordering your lock. You now need to measure your door backset. This picture should help a bit, but I will explain a bit more as well.

There are two standard door backsets, 2 3/8 inches and 2 3/4 inches. The way to measure this is to measure from the middle of the bore hole to the edge of the door. Before we can go any further, the bore hole is the hole in the door where your knob or lever will go. The edge of the door is where you would measure the thickness of the door.

This backset measurement will help determine how long of a latch you need for your door to close properly. The longer backset length, 2 3/4, inches tends to be used for exterior applications while 2 3/8 is more common for interior doors but that is now always the case.

Door Handing

Most door hardware is going to be handed, meaning you need to know what side of your door this hardware will go on. This part can get a bit confusing for a lot of people, but it is not that complicated. Look at this handing guide-

Handing is always determined from the outside of the door. Usually whoever is helping you pick out this hardware will ask you what side of the door the hinges will be on. This answer will help determine the handing of your door. For example, while standing outside the door, a door with hinges on the left will result in the door being a left-handed door and vice-versa for right handed doors. For the right-hand reverse and left-hand reverse doors, the door swings out of the room or house instead of swinging in.

To recap, you need to know what type of lock you are replacing, mortise or tubular. The door thickness, backset, and door stile width are the next few things you need to know. Finally, you need the handing of your door. These steps should help you determine what kind of lock you will need for your specific door situation. This will also help you save a lot of time, so that when you come in you know what will help us pick out your lock right away.

Ben Goldstein – Showroom Sales Associate

Barn Door Track: Soft Close

Barn door track has become enormously popular over the past number of years.  We continue to see new styles and finishes from all the manufacturers we distribute.  One of the latest trends within the barn door track world is soft close.  This allows the home owner to be able to give the door a hard pull yet the door comes to a quiet stop.  Soft close eliminates hangers banging against the stop which makes life both more enjoyable and lengthens the life of the installation.

Within our lines, both Leatherneck and Orca Hardware offer this option in their flat track series.  Other manufacturers have soft close available too.  Most work similarly but there can be some differences.  Here are some tips and things to watch for as you are getting ready to install a barn door track with soft close.

First, think ahead.  In most cases, the soft close mechanisms are sold separately from the track kit.  And not all track kits are ready to accept the soft close mechanism.  At Builders’ Hardware, both our Orca Hardware and Leatherneck flat tracks are all ready to accept the soft close mechanism. On Orca, you’ll find that near each end of track there are a pair of screw holes drilled partially through the back side of the track (1).  The soft close mechanism attaches to these screw holes.  It’s easier to attach the soft-close mechanism to the track before the track is hung on the wall*.  The great thing about Orca and Leatherneck is that the mechanisms are all but invisible once they are installed.  There are other brands on the market that clamp to the track surface with set screws.  These clamps are then visible on the front of the track.  While we don’t have direct knowledge of how this holds up over time, my guess is that those brackets may need to be occasionally adjusted back to their original position.

Orca and Leatherneck sell their soft close mechanisms in pairs.  This allows the installer to use soft close on both sides of the track.  If it’s only needed on one side, then the other mechanism is not used.  It is important to note that the mechanisms are handed so make sure to at least look at the instructions (2).

Placement of the triggers, or catches, on the top of the door is the key to smooth operation and getting the door to close or open exactly where you want.  The trigger, or catch, is what engages the mechanism as the door travels on the track (3).  With the Orca Hardware soft close mechanism, one way to determine trigger placement is to hang the door, align it where is should rest when closed, then mark the top of the door in the center of the catch gap.  Mark the door in the same way with the door in its open position.  Be sure to do this before the floor guide and anti-jump blocks are installed because you’ll need to take the door back off the track to install the triggers.  Rehang the door once the triggers are installed then finish the installation.  Plan to leave at least an inch of overlap between the open and closed position of the door; this will ensure the floor guide is always engaged with the door (4).  And don’t worry, if it is too difficult to hang the door twice, there are formulas in the instructions to help you calculate where the triggers go.  Use the supplied door stops at the end of the track for both a fail-safe and aesthetics.

If you are using flat track to cover an opening with 2 doors you can still use soft close.  If your goal is to have soft close and soft open on both doors simply use 2 tracks kits and install them centered in the opening.   Additional options for Orca Hardware and Leatherneck include bypass brackets to convert an opening to bypass application.  Simply order 2 kits and a bypass bracket for each hole spacer (5 brackets for a 6’ track).

Overall, both Orca Hardware’s Soft Close Mechanism (FT-SOFTCLOSE) and Leatherneck’s Close Ease mechanisms (0121-0080B) provide a great way to improve the feel and function of barn door track.  It’s an easy upgrade that is worth a little additional cost and time.

*It is possible to add soft close to a track that’s already installed.  As long as the track is already pre-drilled, then adding the mechanism is only a matter of working in a tight space.

Melissa Bazala – Outside Sales Manager          Click here for larger illustration

Oil-Rubbed Bronze

Oil-rubbed bronze is a very popular finish in today’s residential hardware market. It almost rivals satin nickel as the most popular, and at Builders’ Hardware & Supply we sell tons of it on cabinet and door hardware.

But what a lot of people don’t know about oil-rubbed bronze is that it will start changing color over time. The reason for the changing of color is because oil-rubbed bronze is a patina finish. The patina finish begins as a dark brown, but as it is used it will lighten and display a copper or mild brass undertone. This change in color is why the finish is described as a “living finish”. The natural oils on our hands are the main reason for the wearing away of the initial dark finish. Weather and exposure to sea air can also factor into the patina effect.

But even with a change of color, oil-rubbed bronze is a very popular finish in today’s hardware world. People enjoy a darker finish, but not completely black, which oil-rubbed bronze is perfect for.

The color isn’t completely brown or black but somewhere in the middle with hints of both colors in its finish. It isn’t quite as neutral as satin nickel, but it works with a lot of people’s houses that are trying to stay with the mid-century look.

Now when you’re out looking for an oil-rubbed bronze finish you are destined to see different finish codes for that color. They are 10B, ORB, 613 and US10B. Having four codes can be confusing but remember that all of them are the same finish.

Not everyone’s oil-rubbed bronze is going to be the exact same tone or color. Some companies oil-rubbed bronze can be darker, some lighter.

One of our brands, Schlage, actually just recently discontinued their oil-rubbed bronze and now have an aged bronze, which has more of a copper tone in it. Their aged bronze finish is not a living finish which has the benefit of looking the same throughout the life of the hardware.  Emtek and Baldwin’s oil-rubbed bronze are similar but have their differences.

Baldwin’s oil-rubbed bronze looks more rubbed on with some brush strokes, rather than Emtek’s which doesn’t have the brush stroke pattern on it.

Some other major brands that carry oil-rubbed bronze products are Deltana, Ives and almost every cabinet hardware company.

Again, their finishes are going to vary, but not significantly. Many people ask if they can mix and match brands with finishes, and the answer is yes.

BUT… just remember that the finishes may vary just a tiny bit between companies and having some pulls and knobs from different companies right next to each other might look a little different.

Have fun with this finish though. It’s up there in popularity with satin nickel, and even though there is a patina effect on hardware with this living finish people seem to really enjoy oil-rubbed bronze.

Ben Goldstein – Showroom Sales Associate

Swinging, Pocket, or Barn Door?

You might be surprised to learn that there is more than one way to open a door. Typically, when you think of a door, you think of a swinging door. However, whether it’s minimalist living or ever decreasing square footage in the city, alternatives to swinging doors are becoming very common.

Swinging doors are, by far, the most commonly seen door. You see them on every house, apartment, and commercial building. Despite their popularity, they actually take up the most square footage by swinging into a space. For example, a bedroom that has a door that swings in for entry and a single closet door that swings out can lose around 20 square feet of space. For those in small apartments or tiny homes, that can be very valuable space. However, these doors leave more open space on your wall, unlike other types of doors. Being the traditional style of door, they are intuitive to use and are also cost efficient when standard sizing is used. Swinging doors tend to have the best locking options, which is why they are almost always used on entry doors. You’ll usually find knobs or levers on these types of doors and the hardware can be matched throughout your home for a unified suited look.

Pocket doors are a great alternative for saving square footage. These types of doors slide completely out of the way into a pocket built into the wall. They allow for the maximum opening to be used and are perfect in areas that only need to be closed off occasionally. However, they are part of the framing of the wall and can be costly to add into an existing space or fix when broken. Pocket door track hardware usually comes as a kit and may include a frame. Soft close options are a great idea to add a bit of luxury to your home. You’ll want to be careful if you hang anything, like a painting, on the walls of the pocket. It is easy to forget about the door inside and damage it by using a nail that is just a bit too long.  These doors require flush hardware in order to have the door slide completely into the pocket and to retrieve the door from the pocket. This can be as simple as two flush pulls and an edge pull or as sophisticated as a mortise lock set. Most door hardware manufacturers will have some type of hardware for this application which will allow for matching finishes and in some cases even matching styles.

Barn doors are becoming increasingly popular. They are a great way to save square footage in a room without tearing into your walls. These doors slide along the surface of a wall and if installed properly will also allow for the maximum opening to be used. They are relatively easy to install yourself, can be very budget friendly, and are a great way to remodel a space. Barn doors do not offer the best sound retention and locking options. You are typically unable to hang anything on the wall where the door slides. These sliding door systems come in an endless number of styles. Rustic flat track and modern, stainless round track are the two most popular styles but with so many different options, your imagination is the limit. You’ll want to pick out one flush pull for the side that faces the wall as it slides. The other side of the door can also use a flush pull or it could have a grip pull. Like the track, there are a multitude of style options from which to choose as well. All these options mean that not only could you match the rest of the hardware in your home; you can make this a focal piece in the room too.

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one, knowing your options will help you get the most use and style out of your door opening.

Mary Duke – Residential Consultant

Mortise vs. Tubular Locks

If you have ever looked at the lock on your front door, you may have noticed that not all locks are the same. There are many types of locks available around the world but for now, let’s just focus on two of them, mortise locks and tubular locks (not to be mistaken for cylindrical locks). Why these two? Well, they are the two most common types of residential locks in the US and when installed, they can look almost exactly the same. Some manufacturers make the same style of lock in both mortise and tubular versions. This can make it tricky to identify what you need if you’re replacing a lock and it is a valuable piece of information to have during the process.

These locks require your door to be prepared or “drilled” in two very different ways. Because of this difference it’s important to know which type of lock you have. It’s never fun to buy something that doesn’t fit correctly and knowing this information will help narrow your focus while shopping. It is possible to convert a door from one type of lock to the other, but it requires a skilled professional and can be a costly endeavor.

Modern mortise locks have been around for over a hundred years and get their name from the rectangular shaped pocket that is mortised in the edge of the door that receives the lock body. They are a tried and true product that is engineered to last and if taken care of properly, can last a lifetime. Most standard exterior mortise locks require a 5-6 inch tall mortise pocket (depth varies with backset) for installation.

Tubular locks have been around since the start of the 1900’s and get their name from the tube shaped hole that is drilled into the edge of the door that the lock fits into. These locks were designed to reduce the cost of manufacturing and the labor-intensive preparation needed on a door. Each lock requires two cylindrical shaped bores – one into the edge of the door and one through the face of the door. The standard for these are a 1 inch diameter edge bore and a 2-1/8 inch diameter face bore.

So, if they can look basically the same when installed, then how can you tell them apart? You can always identify one from the other by looking at the edge of your door or more importantly, the latch face. Because the mortise lock encompasses all the locking functions into a single lock body you will see one long face plate, most commonly about 8 inches on an exterior door and 4-6 inches on an interior door. This face plate will include the latch as well as the deadbolt if there is one.  Tubular locks break these two functions apart into two individual components, an independent latch and an independent deadbolt. For this reason, when identifying a tubular lockset, you’ll see an independent face plate for each function. A small face plate for the latch and a separate face plate for the deadbolt. These typically measure 2-1/4 inches tall.

If you’re building a new home or replacing a door, either lock can work for you and there are a few features/benefits of each that can help you decided.

  • Mortise locks, while more expensive, typically have a longer life span as more of their components can be serviced. They are commonly seen on the exterior doors of high end homes.
  • Tubular locks are less expensive but many have to be replaced entirely if they fail.
  • Both can be used in lever by lever, knob by knob, and handle set by lever/knob applications
  • Mortise locks are always handed (right hand vs left hand). With tubular locks, it depends on the manufacturer. In either case, it is good to have handing information on hand. More information on how to correctly hand doors can be found on our website at
  • Both can have emergency egress – a feature that, with a single action, will unlock the door and open a door to allow for exit in the case of emergency.For mortise locks, this feature is built into the lock and you can still use a sectional trim on your entry set.
  • For tubular entry sets, an emergency egress mechanism must be used on the inside of the door requiring a longer escutcheon plate.
  • Exterior mortise locks commonly have toggles/stops which allow for the outside trim to be locked without a keyOn locks with emergency egress, this is done automatically when the deadbolt is projected. It is important to note that the outside trim will remain locked until manually unlocked with the toggles/stops. It does not unlock as part of the emergency egress function. This is due to fire regulations.
  • Tubular locks are available with a key in knob/lever function with or without emergency egress and can be a great option for storage areas or mechanical rooms where a lock is desired and a deadbolt is not needed.
  • When using a tubular lock, a separate deadbolt is needed when a secure door is called for. (The deadbolt is where your door’s security comes from, not the latch)
  • Mortise locks can have a latch, deadbolt, toggles/stop, and auxiliary latch or any combination thereof in one lock body.
  • Most tubular deadbolts have a single hardened steel pin in the bolt to prevent people from sawing through the bolt. Mortise lock deadbolts have two of these pins.
  • Interior mortise locks are smaller in size and are available with or without skeleton keys. These are great when replacing or matching old hardware.
  • If your house is by the water, there are marine grade mortise lock options available.

While tubular locks tend to be budget friendly and are found more commonly throughout a home, it is not uncommon to find both types being used in the same house. This is best illustrated where a homeowner uses a mortise lock on a door that is a focal point or statement piece (and/or all exterior doors) and utilizes tubular locks in places such as closets and bedrooms.  Many manufacturers offer coordinating styles in both types of locks to ensure a consistent look throughout your home.

The next time you go to buy a new lock, you’ll feel like an expert.

Mary Duke – Residential Consultant

Satin Nickel vs Satin Chrome vs Stainless Steel

Satin chrome, satin nickel, stainless steel…they all kind of look the same don’t they? Choosing between the three can be as hard as deciding what to make for dinner. So how do you pick?

Well, there are several factors to consider but first let’s look at what the actual difference is between these finishes. Visually, they are similar and most people won’t even notice a difference unless they are side by side.

Satin nickel has a warm, yellow/gold tone to it. Satin chrome is cooler and bluer. As these are plated finishes, a thin layer of metal applied over a brass or zinc alloy base, there is variation from one company to the next. It is common to find that satin nickel has more of a lacquered shine than satin chrome. The name can even differ from one company to the next. Brushed, satin, brushed satin…they all mean the same thing.

And what about stainless steel? It usually falls in the middle but is typically closer to satin nickel. As stainless steel is not a plated finish, you see the metal itself. There isn’t much variation between companies.

Some things to consider when deciding on your finish…

Do you have any other hardware nearby? Does it need to match? Many people like to match the cabinet hardware to their faucet, door hardware, or light fixtures. Matching appliance pulls (the pulls on your refrigerator or dish washer) is a trend in high end homes as well. While not necessary it can really connect the overall design of the space.

Want to match your stainless steel appliances but can’t find anything that you like in stainless? Try satin nickel. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference. Expanding the finishes you’ll consider opens you up to many more style options.

If matching isn’t a concern, what type of statement do you want to make with your hardware? There are so many options available, your cabinet hardware can stand out and be a focal point or blend in and let the counter, sink, or lighting take the stage. Silver finishes like these stand out against dark cabinets and blend in more with light finishes. Edge/tab pulls are great for minimalist looks, while many contemporary styles feature flat fronts adding bold lines throughout.

Satin nickel is a lot more common in residential hardware while satin chrome is more common in commercial hardware. If you’re going for an industrial look, you might want to consider satin chrome. But if you’re trying to coordinate with your bathroom accessories, it’s going to be easier to find it all in satin nickel.

Satin nickel has been one of the most popular finishes over the last several years. It’s common to see in homes for sale as it is a neutral finish. If you put it in your home now, will it seem out dated next year? I don’t think so and here’s why. Not only has it become almost a classic look but stainless steel is often more expensive. Satin nickel is a great way to keep up on the style trends while keeping the cost down as more, less expensive base metals are available. While I don’t see contemporary styling of stainless steel going away, I also don’t see traditional, transitional, rustic, craftsman, colonial, mid-century modern, or any other non-contemporary styles going away either. So until they bring the cost down and expand the style offerings of stainless steel, satin nickel will stay a great choice for your home.

Your hardware is one of the intimate pieces of your home. Wood flooring can do a lot for a room, but you are going to interact with and touch your door hardware and cabinet pulls every day. It is important that you like them and they fit YOUR style. Regardless of the current trends, it’s your home. So, you should love it!

Mary Duke – Residential Consultant