Why Are Door Knobs So Low in Older Houses?

Have you ever stopped to consider why doorknobs are placed at the height they are? If you’ve walked into an older home, you may have noticed that the door knobs are often much lower than those in newer houses. This design feature is a result of the history and evolution of door hardware and the needs of the home’s occupants.

Some older houses have low door knobs because the design suited the home’s occupants’ needs at the time. For example, low door knobs were convenient if the occupants were shorter people or had limited mobility. In addition, the architectural style of the time may have also played a role in the placement of door knobs.

Continue reading to learn more about the reasons behind low door knobs in older houses and how they have changed over time.

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Have you ever wondered why the doorknobs in old houses are so low? I did too! So I did some digging and found out all about the standard doorknob height, how it's changed over the years, and how it measures up to the current ADA standards for accessibility. Want to update your home with this helpful information? Keep reading!

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The Evolution of Door Knob Height in the U.S.

Door knob height has evolved over time in response to various factors, including changes in building codes and accessibility standards, design and style trends, and changes in the needs and preferences of the people who use doors.

The evolution of door knob height in the United States can be traced back to the early 19th century when door knobs were not as commonly used as they are today. During this time, doors were often opened using a latch or a lock, which could be operated using a key or a handle. 

Door knobs were not as widespread in the 19th century because they were relatively expensive and not as widely available as they are today.

As door knobs became more common and more affordable in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they began to be used more widely in homes and other buildings. Door knob heights during this time were often based on the average height of the people who lived in the house, and since people were generally shorter in the 19th and early 20th centuries, door knobs were typically lower to the ground.

In the mid to late 20th century, door knob heights began to increase as the average height of people in the United States increased. 

In addition to practicality, the architectural style of the time also played a role in the placement of door handles. For example, in the Victorian era, door hardware was often more ornate and decorative, with elaborate handles and hinges that were meant to be seen and admired. In these cases, the door handles were usually placed at a higher height to make them more visible and to highlight their beauty.

Today, door knob placement is largely dictated by building codes and accessibility standards. In many jurisdictions, door handles must be placed within a certain range of heights to ensure that they are easily accessible to people of all ages and abilities. 

Despite these standardizations, the placement of door handles can still vary depending on the specific needs of the home’s occupants and the overall design of the space. For example, a home with young children may choose to have lower door handles to make it easier for them to reach, while a home with primarily tall occupants may opt for higher door handles to reduce the need to bend down.

What Is the Standard Door Knob Height in the United States?

The standard height for door knobs in the United States is typically around 36 inches (3 ft) from the floor to the center of the knob. This height is considered to be comfortable and easily accessible for most people. 

However, it’s worth noting that there may be some variations in door knob height depending on the specific application and the needs of the user. For example, some door knob heights may be adjusted to accommodate people with disabilities or to meet other specific requirements.

Who Regulates Door Knob Height in the U.S.?

In the United States, there are no specific regulations or codes that dictate the specific height of door knobs. However, there are generally accepted guidelines and recommendations for door knob heights that are followed by builders, contractors, and other professionals in the construction industry. 

These guidelines are often based on ergonomic, safety, and inclusion considerations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are intended to make door handles and knobs comfortable and easy to use for the majority of people.

In addition, the International Building Code (IBC) includes provisions for the height and operation of door hardware in new construction and renovations, with the goal of ensuring that doors are safe and easy to use. 

What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act’s Policy on Door Knob Height?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA includes requirements for the design and construction of commercial and public buildings, with the goal of making these buildings accessible to people with disabilities.

In relation to door knob height, the ADA includes specific requirements for the height and operation of door hardware in commercial and public buildings. These requirements are intended to ensure that doors are easy to use and accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

According to the ADA, door hardware must be operable with one hand and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. In addition, door hardware must be mounted at a height between 34 inches (2.83 ft) and 48 inches (4 ft) above the floor. This height range is intended to accommodate the reach of people with disabilities and make it easier for them to operate the door.

It’s worth noting that these requirements apply to new construction and renovations of commercial and public buildings, and they may not necessarily apply to all doors in these buildings. For example, the ADA includes exceptions for certain types of doors, such as doors in private offices or in dwelling units, which may have different requirements for door hardware.

Overall, the ADA’s requirements for door knob height are intended to ensure that doors in commercial and public buildings are accessible and easy to use for people with disabilities.

As such, when renovating your own home, you don’t have to tweak your door knob’s height or other aspects according to the ADA guide. However, these guidelines are worth considering if you have people with disabilities in your home. Replacing your doorknob with one that’s more accessible will benefit everyone in the household.

What’s the International Building Code’s Policy on Door Knob Height?

The International Building Code (IBC) is a model building code that is adopted and enforced by many states and localities in the United States. The IBC includes provisions for the design and construction of new buildings and renovations, with the goal of ensuring the safety and functionality of the built environment.

In relation to door knob height, the IBC also follows the ADA’s guidelines, meaning the height should be between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor.

The IBC’s specific guidelines can vary between states. Therefore, be sure to check your state’s IBC construction provisions to avoid making costly errors.

That’s because if a building or renovation project does not comply with the IBC’s requirements for door knob height, it may be required to make changes or modifications to the door hardware in order to bring the building into compliance. Depending on the specific circumstances, these changes or modifications may need to be made at the owner’s expense.

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about replacing the low doorknobs in your home, it’s important to consider the design and style of your house, as well as any applicable building codes or accessibility standards. I hope this information was both interesting and helpful for you!