By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
In 2014, Vancouver Canada municipal building code banned doorknobs in all new construction, including private homes. Lever style handles are required instead. This was designed to make it easier for elderly and disabled people to open doors. Lever style faucet handles in kitchens and bathrooms are also required. What makes this controversial is that it applies to new private homes, not just commercial buildings.
Meanwhile, in Aspen and Pitkin County Colorado, lever handles are not recommended because bears can open doors with lever handles on them. Wildlife officials advise homeowners to install round doorknobs on the outside of houses.
According to the Northwest ADA Center, “Door hardware must not require more than 5 lbs. of force to operate. It must also be operable with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. Lever handles and some other types comply with this requirement. Traditional round doorknobs are not accessible, as they require tight grasping and twisting to turn.” For buildings in which disabled people need access to, lever handles and auto opening doors are the best option.
What about your own home though? I’ve lived in places with lever handles and other places with round door knobs. I’ve ripped shirts and caught purse straps on lever handles. My friend complains about lever handles because his crazy kitten runs rampant though the house opening all the doors. On the other hand, it is frustrating to try to open round doorknobs on rainy days, with lotion on your hands, or when the lock sticks.
In my house, there are different door knobs on every door. Can you guess which ones are easier to open? Think about the grip and shape.
Answer: The easiest one to open is the top picture and the pictures are ordered in difficulty with the most difficult one at the bottom. However, they are all easier to open than a round door knob. Oval egg shaped knobs are widely available and a good alternative to a lever handle or round knob if you are not a fan of either of those.
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