At first glance, this seems like a completely straightforward question. But in fact, when you dig a little deeper, there’s a lot of misunderstanding and general bewilderment around this particular topic.
Do you need a left or right handed door handle? Or do you actually need a left or right handed door handle in the first place? Which door handles are reversible? Is it the same information for lever and pull handles?
- This article focuses on front door handles - we’ll be following up on internal handles soon
- Whether you actually need a left or right handed front door handle is primarily based on how the handle itself will impact the locking/opening mechanism and/or security features of your door. This affects lever styles but not pull handles which are operated completely independently of the lock/opening
- If you want a lever handle, you will need to know your "door handing” to work out which handle, left or right handed, that you need
- For pull handles, it is design & direction of the handle that plays a part in the idea of “left” and “right – but this is purely a case of preference in the look of the handle on your door, not (generally) an impact on its function. With push/pull styles you can largely choose the placement and direction based on visual appeal alone and do not specifically need a “left” or “right” handed handle
Need the detail? Keep reading to find out more.
When do I NEED a left or right handed door handle?
We come to our first broad handle category, the lever. Lever handles have a direct interaction with your lock/door opening where the pressing down of the handle works to release the internal mechanism and open the door.
This means that - broadly speaking - it is really only lever handles where you may need a right or left handed front door handle. For design AND function purposes. Better quality lever handles will (mostly) be designed and built differently depending on the required left or right hand placement on the face of the door.
Are lever handles reversible?
If the handle is fairly symmetrical from the front i.e it is a rectangle or tube style, the handle might look easily reversible. But internally it may fail to fit and/or function properly if it was designed for the left and is now being used on the right.
For example, rather than pressing down, you might now have to pull the handle up to open the door instead. This simple reversal from what feels natural would be enough to quickly irritate you!
Similarly – and importantly - if a pair of lever front door handles have been designed for a left hand placement, with different security features on the exterior v.s interior handle, these cannot simply be swapped over to the right hand side. You would specifically need the pair designed for the right. We mention security here - keep this in mind when shopping for a front door lever style as it’s critical that it has features to prevent handle/lock tampering.
There are always exceptions to the above and you may well come across lever style handles that are fully reversible (this is more often the case with cheaper handles). But generally speaking, you will want to pay careful attention to the left and right concept if you’ve got your heart set on a lever style front door handle.
So I want a lever handle - how do I choose the correct right or left?
Whether your entrance lever handles should be left or right handed will be the opposite of whether your door is left or right handed (so the opposite to your “door handing”).
To work out your door handing, it is commonly the exterior view that is used (so from outside your front door). If the hinges/pivot are on the left, you have a left handed door. If they’re on the right, you have a right handed door.
When you’re actually buying/fitting doors there is a bit more to it! For the purpose of talking about handles, this is as much as you will need to know.
So, if you have a left handed front door, your lever handle will be placed on the right hand side of the exterior of the door.
It is therefore a right handed door handle that you need to purchase if the style of handle you choose requires this information.
It’s worth pointing out here that the method for determining “door handing” and subsequently the left or right door handle can differ from country to country. This is also why this topic can seem confusing even though the above appears straightforward. This information is based on standard UK practice but keep this in mind if you’re shopping for handles abroad.
What about handles where I don’t need to worry about left and right? Which door handles are reversible?
Generally speaking, the simplest solution will be a symmetrical pull handle. In the case of push/pull style handles, these are fixed to your door to literally push and pull the door open (it’s all in the name!). They have no link or relation to your door lock or opening mechanism, which is operated separately.
It means that when you buy a pair in a style that is symmetrical (when looking from the front), like our bestselling [Icon] stainless steel handle, you will receive 2 identical handles that have no “correct” way up. It doesn’t matter which way round they are used, on either side of the door or on the left or right of either side of the door.
So in these instances there literally is no left or right or up and down. Just wherever suits you best for your door (excluding of course any door design or performance features that may make certain placements impossible).
What about pull handles that aren’t symmetrical?
So this is where the idea of right or left comes back into play. But the difference here is that it’s really about the design and direction of the handle and not a specific fitting requirement like the lever handles, which are directly linked to the opening & security features of your door.
If you choose a handle pair in a curved or non-symmetrical design (as seen from the front), like our popular [Lustro] steel handle that has a sleek rounded feature, you will receive 2 handles that mirror each other. One that has the curve going to the left and one that has the curve going to the right. This means that once fixed to the door externally and internally, the handles will match so the curve in this design follows the same direction.
While there is often a common placement in terms of which direction the design of the handle goes (you’ll be able to see these in the images on our product pages for example), you are free to reverse or even turn them upside down if you prefer.
We always recommend buying front door handles as a pair regardless of the style or type you are choosing but in this case, if you are only buying one pull handle, you will want to specify which side of the “mirror” you want, depending on whether you prefer the “left” or “right” design.
So in the case of pull handles, “left and right” is really about design and door handle direction. But it is not an absolute requirement for function or security reasons and is only something you need to think about if you are buying just one handle.
And there you have it.
Ultimately whether or not you need to think about a left or right handed handle will come down to the most important things for you - your desired visual look and handle style, the practicality of the solution and the quality of the handle/s you choose.
Prefer the simple solution? Browse our range of contemporary, high-grade stainless steel pull handles here.