Antique Hardware: To Repair or Replace?

When you buy an older house, you may find yourself making renovations or simply updating hardware and fixtures. One of my favorite things about Denver is that we have a rich history. All over Denver there are houses that were built during the gold and silver rushes of the late 1800’s. Boy if these houses could talk!

What I’ll often see is people wanting to replace their old hardware with newer, nicer hardware. In some instances this may be the best option, for instance this week I had a couple with surface mounted deadbolts, or jimmy proof locks, on every door. Unfortunately, they had multiple brands of hardware all over the house and none of them were compatible, so they had a ton of different keys! On top of that they were worn out. Unfortunately, the companies that made them were out of business and there were no compatible replacements available that would match the keys they had. In this case modernizing was the only option.

What you have to consider when modernizing is that the doors and jambs have been pre-drilled and mortised for the old hardware. Installing new hardware may leave unsightly holes that need filled, or marks where the old locks have been in place for 50 years. This may be a small job or it could make a mess of things. If you have an old skeleton key lock or an old mortise lock, you probably have a door that’s close to 100 years old. In those days the doors were made better, as were the locks. As surprising as it may be, most of these locks are still working or can be repaired fairly easily! In fact, most of the time it’s a matter of cleaning paint or varnish off and lubricating the lock.

As mentioned above the really old stuff, door and all, was made better. It was also made much differently. If you want to replace one of these you should talk with a locksmith. They make modernization kits to help cover holes and mount the hardware. If this isn’t done properly, the door may be simply ruined and finding a replacement that maintains any of the architectural integrity, will be pricey.

The best way to make the decision, is to assess the situation. For instance; If the knob is loose or missing, it’ll be easier to repair or replace it. If the lock works with the door open but not closed, you may need a simple adjustment. If the lock is broken beyond repair, it may be better to replace it or simply install a replacement above or below it. If the issue is with a deadbolt feature mounting a new lock above or below it may be better, as it leaves no additional holes and leaves the original hardware and woodwork intact. You’ll see this on a lot of older houses; the front door will have a new deadbolt on top and all the old stuff on bottom. It’s more cost effective and avoids the mess of matching replacement trim or filling holes. You can always rest assured if you call Danny Joe! We will give you all of the options for your specific situation and help you make the most informed decision based on your needs!