They can come in a glittering array of styles and designs; some resemble gaudy Christmas baubles, others mythical beasts, the more expensive ones are inset with semi-precious stones or, made of crystal and finished with 24 carat gold.

We are talking about door knobs of course.

 

Aesthetics

For reasons unknown, doorknobs have lent themselves to excesses of creativity and, despite being popular with traditionalists, they continue to do so.

Door handles on the other hand, tend to have a reputation for being more minimalist in design. That’s not to say there’s not plenty of ornate door handles out there, if that is what you are after, but door handles have come to be associated with an elegant refined look. As such, they are the perfect option for business premises.

 

Accessibility

 

 

Beyond the aesthetics, there are important reasons why door handles are the right option for commercial/business premises, and that’s related to their practical design, which provides access to all. Doorknobs MIGHT be more beautiful and ornate and individualised BUT the reality is, they are harder to open.

For this reason, several years back, the Canadian city of Vancouver controversially banned doorknobs in ALL new buildings including private homes. The decision made international headlines. This probably sounds like a trifling ‘first world problems’ type of attack on humble doorknobs but; mandating door handles can make a huge difference to elderly people and people with disabilities. People with arthritis in their hands or wrists or fine motor skill impairment can find turning a door knob difficult if not impossible; while people with disabilities can also find door knobs challenging. A simple door knob can therefore act as a barrier to access.

Door handles on the other hand, because of their simple lever action, open easily, and are much easier to use. Another benefit of handles is even if you have both hands full, it’s still possible for an able-bodied person to open the door using an elbow or even a foot! The Disability Discrimination Act makes it against the law for public places to be inaccessible to people with a disability. The definition of public places actually encompasses some private businesses that everyone generally needs to use, like hairdressers, travel agents and law offices.

So it may not be simply a matter of wanting to provide equal access, depending on your business, it can actually be a mandated one.

 

Fire Safety

 

There’s another reason door handles are used rather than knobs in business settings and that is because of Australian fire safety legislation. Fire doors, exit doors and ‘path or travel’ doors (door in the egress pathway leading to or between a fire door or exit door) must be fitted with a downward action handle. This makes sense if you think about the following example: A fire has broken out and one person is dragging another to safety and has limited use of their hands. They’ll easily be able to open a door handle whereas a stiff door knob may cost them critical seconds, making escape more difficult.

If you are set on ornate door knobs for your business, you’ll therefore need to do your homework first and see what is possible.  You may be limited to using door knobs on cupboard doors. But do keep in mind there are plenty of gorgeous, sleek door handle designs out there. If you want a statement piece, you can still find that in door handle form. And you never know, opting for door handles may one day save your life, or the life of a work colleague.