External doors - features and door hardware

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What additional features can external doors have?


External doors need to have certain features and properties for them to be effective. The features you want in your doors will depend on where they'll be used and personal preferences.




Glazed doors  are a popular choice for exterior doors because they can bring a lot of light inside a building and allow you to see outside, as well as being a decorative feature. The glass used for external doors needs to meet certain standards to ensure it's suitable for its purpose. Opt for glazed folding doors  and you can add a real wow factor to your home and bring the outside in, or glazed French doors  for classical style.


Exterior doors can have decorative glass panels to give them an interesting look


Sidelights and fanlights

Not only can doors have glazing panels fitted into their leaves, they can also have additional panels, with glazing installed, fitted into extended frames. These are called sidelights when situated at the sides of the door leaf or fanlights if they are above. Choose sidelight frame packs  to accommodate external doors and sidelight panels .


 Exterior doors can have decorative glass panels to give them an interesting look

 For more information see: Glazed doors



Air vents


Air vents can be added to doors. Good ventilation prevents condensation and lets fresh air into your home. The vents that are added to external doors are usually adjustable, which means they can be opened and closed to prevent unwanted drafts. 


Pet doors 


Usually called a cat flap (or dog flap, if it's used by a dog), these small doors are usually fitted at the bottom of an entrance door. The pet can then get through the entrance while the main door remains shut.  


Low profile thresholds 


Some external doors can be produced with lower thresholds than others, which will affect the step of the door sill. The threshold is important as it helps form a tight seal at the bottom of the door when it's closed to prevent leaks and drafts. 


External doors have a choice of thresholds you can pick from


The types of flooring you have will also affect what threshold you can install. Low profile thresholds offer easy access for wheelchairs as they reduce the amount needed to step up, while still sealing the bottom of the door. 


What hardware can be fitted to external doors?

  Front or back doors for a new or older property  

There is an array of different hardware items which can be added to an external door. Some doors come in door sets and have hardware items ready installed while other are blank slabs for you to install your choice of hardware. 

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Door handles 


The handles for your external door often have a lock built in, which should be secure enough to assist with holding the door shut when it's locked. Handles are usually used to operate a latch which holds the door leaf in place against the frame when it's closed. A weak handle and latch not paired with a strong lock could be broken and pose a security risk. 


Door slabs usually need to have the handles installed on site, which means you can choose a handle design to suit you. Other doors may have handles and other hardware already fitted. There are three basic types of door handle, but each type comes in many styles, and can be made from various materials. The handle you have on the outside face of the door is often different to the one on the inside face. 


Lever door handles

Lever door handles are often found on external doors and they are easier to operate than handles you need to turn, as they require less grip. They are simply pushed down to release the latch and open the door. Many external doors have a lock built into a lever handle and you push the handle up to close the door before it is locked with a key or similar implement.


Doors usually have a handle of some kind, sometimes they have a type of handle called a doorknob



A doorknob is usually the name given to a rounded handle which is turned to release the latch. These handles can have locks built into them or they may have a separate lock installed on the door. They can be difficult to open if someone has a weak grip.


Pull handle

With some of the types of lock or latch that can be fitted, you might be able to choose a simple pull handle on the side of the door that opens towards you. They simply provide a place to grip the door to open it when it's unlocked.

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The type of lock you choose for an external door is important and can affect your home insurance. They are crucial for home security, although it's also important to remember that the strength of the door and how it's fitted will also affect how secure it is. More than one type of lock is sometimes installed on external doors to improve their security. Our door set frame sets  feature a 5-way multi-point locking system and security hinges and a Vectis locking system for added security


Securing a door can be important. Choose the right type of lock


The type of locks you can use will depend on what type of door it is, where it is placed, and what it's made of. The types of lock you can choose from include mortise locks, night latch locks, and cylinder locks. Most external door locks require a key, but there are locks which use other security methods, such as keypads or swipe cards.

             Wonkee Donkee says "All external doors should have a lock which is tested to British standards to meet basic security levers expected by insurers and the police. These locks will be marked with the BSI ‘kitemark’."  



Bolts are often added to the internal face of an external door for extra security. They should never be used on the outside of external doors as they can lock people into a property.


Door chains 


A chain can be fitted to a door as a security device. Once the chain is engaged it restricts how wide a door can be opened, which is why they are sometimes called door limiters. They allow you to open a door to see and speak to a visitor while preventing unwanted intruders from gaining access.


Spy holes 


 Spy holes allow you to see through a solid door from only one side due to their special lens. They are commonly used for front entrance doors, fitted so you can see out without letting anyone see in.


Digital door viewer


Digital door viewers are a modern adaptation of the spy hole. They consist of a small digital camera which faces outside of the door, with a small screen inside to view the image. They usually allow you to take pictures or videos of whatever is the other side of the door. 




Intercoms allow you to communicate with someone at your door, without you needing to be very close to it. One intercom fits on the door and the other can be placed anywhere inside the house. They are often used for flats or especially large houses, and they usually have a device fitted which allows you to remotely open an entrance door. 

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Door alarms


You can get alarms designed to be fixed to doors which activate whenever they're opened, for extra security when your door is unlocked or to alert you whenever the door is used.


Letter boxes


Most front doors have a letter box, letter flap, letter plate, or post box fitted into them. Usually made from metal, they form a small hole in the door, with a flap that can be opened and closed. They are sized for letters and small packages to fit through them without letting anything larger through.


Letter box for an exterior door, so you'll never miss your post. This door is painted blue for a striking effect



Weather seals and draught excluders


Various seals and draught excluders can be added around doors, to protect against leaks or draughts. These are particularly useful on external doors because they're exposed to the elements and can have draughts blowing through any gaps between the door and the frame. They should help to insulate your house and prevent leaks once the door is closed.


Door closers 


Some doors are fitted with a closer which will automatically close a door carefully, keeping it shut until it is manually opened. They are usually used on large, heavy doors, to assist with shutting them. On some fire doors, they are connected to the alarm system and will automatically close the doors when the alarm sounds. They use a spring or hydraulic mechanism to shut doors.


Door knockers


Front doors, and sometimes other external doors, often have some kind of door knocker which is used to amplify a knock so it can be heard more easily inside the house. There is an array of simple and elaborate designs available in various materials. 




Instead of, or as well as, a door knocker, external doors often have a doorbell fitted to their face or frame. These are electronic devices which make a sound within the house when a button is pressed on or near an external door. The sounds produced and the styles of doorbell vary, depending on personal preferences.   

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Door numbers 


The main entrance door to a house will often have the number of the house displayed on it. This not only helps the postman and others find you, but can also be used as an interesting decorative feature.


Door guards


A door guard, often known as a finger protector, is a flexible piece which covers the gap between the hinged edge of the door and the frame. This gap is usually just the right size for fingers, and if the door shuts they can be trapped. Door guards are popular with parents to prevent little fingers getting caught.


Door stop


These simple devices are often attached to the bottom of a door leaf, the wall that a door opens against, or the floor. They are usually used if a door is likely to hit a wall or another surface when it's opened. They are designed to prevent damage to the wall or door by taking the impact and restricting how wide the door can be opened.  


Finger plates and kick plates 


Finger plates and kick plates can be fitted to a door to protect it where it might be vulnerable. A kick plate attaches to the bottom of a door, where feet might hit it. Finger plates are usually around the area a handle is fitted, on the part of the door which gets touched the most when it's being opened and closed. 

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