Knobs: Their Care and Placement

Focus Group Manager: You each have a knob in front of you. When you like what you see, turn the knob to the right. When you don’t like what you see, turn it left.
Ralph: My knob tastes funny.
Focus Group Manager: Please refrain from tasting the knob.

– The Simpsons

The closet doors are up! WOO! And now they need knobs. Which I already bought:

We have glass door knobs throughout the house, and these knobs continue that thing on the closet. But where should they be placed on the door?

Well, color me surprised, but there are quite a few people online with strongly held opinions about knob placement. And, really, they are all fine options! What a weird thing to get het up about. There’s probably a conspiracy theory in there somewhere about the internet being a huge distraction, causing us to bicker about meaningless trivia so we don’t notice our new zombie overlords … until it’s Too Late. (That one’s for you, Dad!)

Anyhoo, the two main camps want knobs either near the hinge or placed symmetrically near the center. Putting the knobs near the hinge works better with the door function (and apparently, some bifold door manufacturers recommend it) because you are pulling with the direction the door will fold anyway.

I like this one because they added escutcheons below the knobs to make them look more completely door-like.


I love the word “escutcheon.” Here’s another example, without escutcheons:


Here’s one using a pull instead of a knob, which looks great in this room:


But some people don’t like the asymmetry of the hinge placement, and plump for a centered option on the middle panels.


The hinge-area supporters say this centered placement makes the doors harder to open, but bifolds aren’t exactly medieval oak portals. This placement is pretty much exactly how the knobs were on the closets I grew up with, and I don’t recall any difficulties. But if you have wrist problems, it is pointed out online, this might not be as comfortable as the other option. The symmetry is nice, though:


If only there were a way to harmonize symmetry and good wrist health!


Now we’re talking! This is the option we’re going for, using four knobs to achieve a “paired door” symmetrical look while still taking advantage of the near-hinge location.

Definitely one of the stranger things I’ve seen debated on the internet! If you are putting in bifold doors, I hope this summary of the major knob position arguments helps you.

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4 Responses to Knobs: Their Care and Placement

  1. Dan says:

    Did you notice nobody ever mentions that there isn’t reinforcing wood located in the center location of the door, whereas if you put the knob by the hinge you will have the edge framing to drill through which will reinforce the knob mount? (Was just researching this issue on the Internet last night.)

    I’ve had a lot of hollow core doors fail through the years with the center placement because the screw eventually pulls through.

    • Stacey says:

      I hadn’t noticed, but you’re completely correct — that’s a detail no one mentions (and especially not the hollow door manufacturers). When I was a kid, we had hollow-core closet doors. My dad put a big washer on the back side to spread out the pressure when we were using the knobs. That definitely helped, but what was probably more important were the repeated warnings to BE CAREFUL WITH THOSE DOORS!!! I was so scared to mess up my closet doors that I didn’t close them at all during my teenage years. At least that’s the rationale I’m going with. 😉

      Are you putting in new doors now? Where are you going to place the knobs?

      • Dan says:

        We are updating all of our blank dark brown slab 1978 closet and room doors with 6 panel doors painted a nice white. We’re going to put the handles near the frame. I also put a washer behind to protect from pull-through.

        I also used the same excuse…um I mean reason for leaving my closet doors open as a teen.

        • Stacey says:

          Dan, you might well be living in the house I grew up in! I remember the dark slab doors well. The 6-panel sounds like a great upgrade.

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