Let’s talk about Ironmongery

You probably don’t spend much (any…) of your time thinking about ironmongery but, if you are embarking on a renovation, prepare for that to change. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you navigate the decisions you’ll need to make (and the technical language).

First up – what is it?

Ironmongery, also referred to as ‘door furniture’ or ‘architectural hardware’, is commonly used to refer to door handles, hinges, cupboard knobs, window latches, etc.

Why does it matter?

  • You operate the working parts of your door furniture several times a day, so you want it to work well and feel good.
  • Ironmongery (along with faceplates) are often considered the ‘jewellery of the home’ – well-chosen pieces pull everything together (whereas poor quality or mismatched ones can let down an otherwise beautiful home).
  • There’s a lot of it! Start looking around your home and tot up handles, hinges, latches, locks, catches and fastenings… That equals a lot of items to specify when designing your renovation – and your choices can have a big impact on budget.

What to consider when choosing ironmongery for your home

Ergonomics, security & safety

Consider your ergonomic & safety needs first. A non-exhaustive list:

  • Door handles – Lever or Rose; Lever handles are usually easier to operate than bun (see ‘lingo bingo’ section) handles/ knobs. Make sure you pick the right size for your door (handles too near to doorframes make for bashed knuckles)
  • Pocket doors – these will require special flush handles. Consider soft closing to prevent getting fingers caught.
  • Bathroom locks – consider thumb turn locks that can be opened from the outside in an emergency.

Front door

  • Lock selection is a whole other story… but is something you should consider early on when selecting ironmongery as this should determine some of your other choices … specially in terms of colour.
  • Other security considerations include spy-hole, chain, and doorbell (again – a whole other world!)
  • Fire safety – in blocks of flats, building regulations require that you have an automatic door closer. Some letter-boxes are also ‘intumescent’ (swells on exposure to heat, thereby creating a seal against fire).

Windows

  • Windows that are near the floor should be fitted with restrictors (to make it hard to fall out of them).
  • Sash windows should have easy-to-use handles.

Budget

Ironmongery adds up.

  • In my 2-bed flat, there are 7 internal swing doors and a balcony door.
  • Every door has a latch, keep, hinges, lever-handles with roses (on each side of the door), a threshold, and 5 of them have locks with escutcheons (see ‘lingo bingo’ below).
  • The front door has a letter flap, auto-closer, chain, spy-hole, handle and 3 locks. Built in cupboards have 6 doors & handles between them (plus hinges, latches, keeps and one more lock…).
  • The 8 windows are UPVC so come with integrated handles – otherwise we’d be looking at stays, handles and fasteners for each of these.

You can see how the list gets very long very quickly.

Pink door by APM
Front door ironmongery
Brass handles and hinges match the brass lighting
Don’t forget about window ironmongery…

Draw up your list before you go shopping, so you know how much your ‘per item’ budget needs to be.

If you already  have ironmongery and are looking for a refresh, the budget friendly option is to choose a new style but in a similar or compatible finish – so you could, for example, retain well-functioning window fittings, door latches and handles, and upgrade just the door handles.

If everything needs replacing, opting for a chrome (or similar) finish will help keep down the cost.  Consider spending more on items important for security i.e. door locks/ window fasteners.

Style & Finish

This is the fun part! Style & finish selection comes down to personal choice – but it’s easy to very quickly get overwhelmed by choice – so here are our tips.

  • Lever or bun, on rose or backplate? We like the neatness of a classic bun handle on a rose – but lever handles are usually easier to use. If you currently have a rectangular plate, the rose won’t cover the screw holes, so these will need filling (and painting).
  • Consider the style of your property and your other design choices.
  • Matte, brushed or polished? We like matte & brushed finishes: They are more subtle (especially for chrome and other silver coloured metals) are more forgiving (they don’t show hand-marks so easily)
  • Metal colour – To return to the jewellery analogy; your handles should be the equivalent of a classic piece that goes with everything in your wardrobe. Before you choose something ‘exciting’, take a moment to check you’ll be happy with it for years (and that it won’t lead you down a design rabbit hole). We think brass/ gold has lasting appeal. Black is very ‘of the moment’  – but could be the right choice in a modern context, e.g. if you also have Crittall-style features.

Lingo bingo

There is a dizzying array of ironmongery terms. Below are a few of our favourites – or head here for a longer list. Try saying some of these with a straight face… rising butt hinge, anyone?

Escutcheon

A plate for covering a key hole cut out in a door, with or without a flap. These need to match/ fit the lock they are covering – and may need a separate rose. The name derives from the Latin ‘scutum’ meaning shield.

Espagnolette

Also known as a cremone bolt: a door or window fastening where a central handle operates other fasteners along the full height of the door or window.

Euro-Cylinder

A type of cylinder shaped like a large keyhole. Euro profile handles have this enlarged keyhole shape cut out of the backplate. You’ll need to know the cylinder type for any lock you are fitting if you want to cover with an Escutcheon!

Espagnolette bolt

Escutcheon

Euro Cylinder

Ironmongery is just one of the aspects of interior design where there is more to it than meets the eye. If you are looking for help with this or any other aspect of interior design or renovation, get in touch.

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