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Taking Doorknobs From High-Touch to Hands-Free

Posted on Jun 18, 2020 in:
  • Maintain
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Remodel
  • Homeowners

Woman with hands full with grocery bags opening a door with an elbow

Q: I’m looking to convert one of my home’s most touched surfaces—the doorknob—to a more “hands-free” approach. Are there any options that get rid of the twist but still keep things secure?

A: You’re not alone! There’s strong interest in DIY projects that can change existing high-touch surfaces to lower touch, and the doorknob is a great place to start. A relatively new type of door handle called a Push Pull Rotate handle allows you to swap out your traditional doorknob with one that opens with a push of your elbow or bump of your hip, providing a way to keep your hands clear of frequently touched surfaces.

Depending on your preferences, Push Pull Rotate handles, knobs, and levers allow you to change the way you open your doors. They can be used traditionally by turning or rotating, but also bring the choice of pushing in or pulling out on the knob or lever to release the door latch. Push Pull Rotate handles work on just about any residential door that opens inward, providing a new level of versatility and convenience, whether you’re working to minimize contact or simply have your hands full with kids, bags, pets, groceries, or laundry.

Initially produced for the building trades for custom homes, Push Pull Rotate door locks are now available to do-it-yourselfers in retail stores (ACE Hardware) and online (including, Wayfair, Home Depot, Lowes, and Houzz). The levers and handles are ADA compliant and have security features to deter thieves, including pick-resistance, bump-resistance, drill-resistance, and anti-pry shields.

Good for All Skill Levels

Installation is simple, straightforward, and just takes a Phillips screwdriver, making this an easy project for virtually all skill levels. Uninstall your existing knob, insert the new latch, then adjust the lock body for your door thickness. Insert the lock body and screw on the mounting plate, followed by the rose. Attach the inside knob and you’re set. The screws are concealed for a nice finished appearance.

A Touchy Subject

One thing to consider in replacing your front door hardware is the impact on overall design and aesthetic compatibility with what’s already on your home. While Push Pull Rotate is an innovative product, it avoids sterile design seen in many tech products with its multiple styles and finishes, and more than 100 combinations of entry, privacy, and passage knobs, levers, and handlesets. For home interior use, try locking privacy locks for bedrooms and bathrooms and interior non-locking passage locks for laundry rooms, pantries, and closets. There are even matching dummy knobs and levers available for closets and French doors.

Smart Home Savvy

Paired with a connected lock with geolocation abilities, you can leverage your smart home to take hands-free entry to the next level. With geolocation enabled on your connected lock, you can set up a routine where the smart deadbolt will unlock with a tap on your phone as you approach—just hip-check your Push Pull Rotate handle to enter. After you’re inside, you can lock the deadbolt via voice command using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri (depending on the connected lock you use).

Julie Ernest is a senior director at Hampton Products International, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,600 members, write to


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