What to Know About Decorative Hardware

Improve your home's beauty with decorative hardware on your garage door.

Curb appeal starts at the sidewalk. Since your garage door can take up a lot of your home’s exterior, you’ll want to make sure your door looks elegant and beautiful. Decorative hardware can help you personalize your door to meet your style preferences. Accentuate your home’s rustic design with some strap hinges and handles, or mimic your wood front door with some knockers. There are many ways to use decorative hardware to make your home the best on the block.

There are three material options.

Decorative hardware comes in three materials: aluminum, stamped steel, and magnetic vinyl. Aluminum is typically more expensive but is available in more designs. It is generally thicker with a three-dimensional appearance. This material is the right choice for coastal areas because it’s essentially rust-resistant. Decorative hardware made of stamped steel can be found on most standard, traditional doors, has a lower cost, and is typically available only in black. Magnetic vinyl is a less permanent option because the pieces can move over time, whether from people or the door’s vibration as it opens and closes. Magnetic hardware can only be applied to steel since there would be no magnetic force on other materials and resembles stamped steel in terms of dimension.

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Choose from many different decorative hardware options.

Decorative hardware is available in various models, and each offers options for designs. Choosing the right one for your door and home’s style may seem overwhelming, but it boils down to understanding what you like and what you don’t.

  • Hinges are available in two styles: a strap hinge or an “L” hinge. The strap hinge is placed horizontally on the door. The “L” hinge is often placed in the corners of the door but can be placed below the windows to create a more dramatic look.
  • Handles come in various designs and are generally placed in the center of the door to mimic real handles. On a door with an opener, these handles are not functional, but when installed on a door without an opener, they serve as a decorative lock and are usable only in that way.
  • Clavos are available in square or circle shapes, which vary in size.
  • Knockers are not functional but can add a medieval look to your garage door.
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Decorative handles shouldn’t be used like real door handles!

Too many people think you can use the garage door’s decorative hardware as a real handle or grab point when operating the door manually. This is simply not true! Decorative hardware is precisely that: decorative! They are screwed into the door enough to stay put, but not secured all the way through and therefore not strong enough to support the weight of a door. Trying to use the decorative handles as grab handles can cause them to fall off and possibly damage the door in the process.

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Furthermore, the handles that serve as decorative locks, as explained above, though functional, are not meant to bear the weight of the door when raising or lowering the garage door. They are installed as a security measure for garage doors that don’t have an opener.

Additionally, the handle shouldn’t be necessary to move the door if the door is balanced. A properly balanced door can be opened by gently lifting the bottom panel as the door shouldn’t weigh more than 5-10 lbs.

Some decorative hardware shouldn’t be installed if you have colonial cuts.

Colonial cuts (also called dog ears and angle cuts) are a type of garage door frame construction where the top corners of the frame are angled. Hinges on the garage door tend to rub against the weather seal as the door opens and closes. The friction will cause the weather seal to fray or tear, allowing air infiltration to affect your garage door’s energy efficiency and result in heat loss.

However, handlers and knockers can be placed on the garage door without causing any harm to the weather seal. The handles can accentuate a carriage door design while still maintaining the integrity of the door.

Sometimes less is more.

Less decorative hardware used appropriately looks better and more upscale than overloading the door with decorative hardware, making it look bulky and too busy. It’s essential to know each type of hardware’s role, so it doesn’t take away from other door elements.