Although our house was only a few years old, it was basic, and everything was “gold”. Don’t get me wrong, I love certain things gold, however, none have to do with door knobs, light fixtures, or hinges. I was looking around the house one weekend, and I had just had enough. Every time I looked at those hideous “gold” fixtures I cringed; they had to be replaced. Although this can be a fairly simple task, here are some tips to save you money and headaches.
Tip #1: Take sample hinges with you to the hardware store
Not all hinges are created equal. They come in many different sizes, the holes have different patterns, and the corners have different shapes. When you get ready to replace your hinges, take 1 of each type to the hardware store so you can match them up (your front door may be different from your interior doors).
Tip #2: Paint your hinges
Can’t find a matching hinge? We had this problem with our front door. The builder bought some non-standard hinge that he probably got a great deal on in bulk, and we can’t match it anywhere! We even checked the specialty stores such as Ace Hardware and McMaster-Carr (great online store for specialty items). I refused to leave the hinges gold, so we bought a can of metal spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum), and sprayed our hinges. It worked great and it was actually less expensive than buying new hinges. Note: You can also use this trick on your light fixtures
Tip #3: Measure your front door handle
There are a few different standard spacing options for front door handles. Make sure you measure yours before you go to the hardware store to pick a new one out. An easy way to do this is take a picture of your handle with a tape measure or ruler lined up next to it. By doing this, you don’t second guess yourself and you can show the specialists at the store if you need help.
Tip #4: Tally what you need
Before you leave for the hardware store, tally up what you need. How many of each hinge? How many bathroom/bedroom locks? How many key locks? Remember, you don’t have to replace a door handle with the same type that was previously there. We use our office closet for file storage and don’t want people going in there, so we changed the traditional closet knob to a key lock knob.
Tip #5: Match your key locks
We used Kwikset brand for our new knobs, and each key lock knob has a code on the back. This code represents the key, so if you want to match multiple locks without having them re-keyed, choose matching codes. This also gives you more spare keys, since each package comes with 2-keys.
Tip #6: Use Kwikset SmartKey locks for exterior doors
This is such a great concept. The Kwikset SmartKey allows you to re-key your own door as often as you need to. When you lose your keys, an old roommate leaves on bad terms, or the neighbor needs access to watch the dog over the weekend, you can change your locks in just a couple of minutes. See the manufacturer video below for details on how it works.
The keypad door locks are another great option, however, they tend to be much more expensive, and I personally don’t want to depend on a battery letting me into my house. They do have some great features though, so it is really a personal choice of what you feel more comfortable with.
Tip #7: Don’t forget to replace the doorstops
Doorstops are probably the easiest thing to replace, and they really complete the look. There are many different styles, including some that magnetically hold your door open (much cleaner than using door wedges, which often slip anyways). Most simply screw in and out by hand. If the new one is fitting loose, take some cardboard matches (without the tip), place one in the hole, and try again.
Tip #8: Sell or donate your old Door knobs and hinges
I am a Craigslist, Thrift Store, and garage sale junky. We sold our old door knobs and hinges for $40 at our garage sale to a local contractor who just needed to put something in and didn’t care what color they were (probably the same one that built our house in the first place). The point is, landlords and contractors are always looking for that kind of stuff, and they don’t want to pay hardware store prices. If you don’t want to deal with selling them, at least donate them to your local thrift store or Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that sells building supplies to help fund their building projects (great organization).
I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions.