How to install antique and vintage doorknobs

k193204-05 (Custom)As the #1 ranked architectural salvage company in the country, we are overflowing with incredible vintage and antique goods. One of our most popular salvaged pieces are vintage and antique doorknobs. We have beautiful honeycomb type mercury dot antique doorknobs circa 1800s, we recently salvaged a collection of milk glass vintage doorknobs, and there are a number of deliciously antique Victorian ‘Loraine’ door knobs just waiting for you to come and take them home.

If you are lucky enough to find the perfect a set of antique or vintage doorknobs at one of our locations you might be at a loss as to how to install them properly on your own (most people are understandably ignorant in antique hardware installation). Well, in order to please our esteemed customers we are offering you this how-to blog post so that you can learn how to install your own doorknobs.

Most antique doorknobs are similar in their mechanisms which means that this installation method will work on most of the doorknobs you’ll find in our stores. These how-to instructions are for antique doorknobs with two glass top knobs and a connecting spindle – you’ll also need a backplate or rosette (we have a great selection of those as well) and a mortise latch, purchased from a local hardware store.

Vintage door knob screw

  • The connecting rods on the glass top doorknobs are usually the threaded type with screws the base of each knob. These screws are there to keep the knobs in place. Using a flat head screw driver, loosen and then remove the screws on one side of the rod until you are able to twist one of the knobs from the rod.
  • Remove the knob from one end of the rod. If the rod is rusted into the base of the knob you can use a set of pliers to loosen and then remove the rod.
  • Using manufacturer instructions, install the mortise latch in your door. This is a special latch that allows you to install antique and vintage knobs with square spindles into modern doors.
  • Place your chosen backplate or rosette on one side of the door and insert the rod through the backplate and mortise latch and out the other side of the door. Do not screw the backplate on yet, you will do this once the knob has been reattached to the rod.
  • Reattach the glass top antique doorknob to the other side of the rod. Replace the screws and tighten until knob functions without wiggling.
  • Screw the backplate onto each side of the door.

Voila! You have installed your own antique or vintage doorknob! Don’t you feel accomplished? Antique doorknobs are meant to be admired. They are functional, but they are also showpieces and conversation starters. Our wide selection of salvaged doorknobs offers our customers the ability to mix and match their collections so they can design doors that set off the décor of the room even before guests enter them.

If, after reading this blog post, you are still unsure about how to install your doorknob, feel free to contact us, or visit one of our locations and speak with one of our staff.

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7 Responses to How to install antique and vintage doorknobs

  1. Martha Wright says:

    I recently purchased a 1924 cottage that has the glass door knobs but the back plates and key holes are covered with layers of paint. Some of the glass knobs are covered in paint as well. What is the safest way to remove the old paint and should the back plates be polished?

    • I believe that this article will answer both of your questions. Good luck with your restoration projects! Let us know if we can be any help.,,20055784,00.html

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Make sure that when you purchase the mortise set to install in your door that you purchase one that has a square drive. These are sold by many different companies, Schlage, B&M Hardware, Baldwin, etc. It may seem odd to you but even the antique glass knobs that screw onto the spindle have a square drive, as well. Also if you are buying doors to replace ones you currently have, if you don’t buy the doors from our reclaimed vintage doors and opt to buy new ones, make sure they are uncut doors. This is vital or you will subjecting yourself to a limited supply of back plates and/or reproduction rosettes to cover the 2.25 in. hole cut in your doors.

  3. Dale says:

    I was wondering if there’s a specific name for the screws that are located at the base of the knob. I live in a house that was built in 1935, and the glass doorknobs are vintage. Some of these screws are missing from the knobs, so if we’re not careful, we end up twisting off the knobs. I want to fix this, but I’ve no idea what these screws are called. I just know they have no head so that they’re flush to the base of the knob.

  4. Mikala says:

    We also had layers of paint over the back plates in our when we purchased it. I searched and searched for and easy way to remove the paint and I found it! Buy an old crockpot from goodwill, fill it with hot water and some liquid dish soap. Place the plates in the water on low and leave it over night (or 8-10 hours). The paint will peal right off and hopefully contain most of the toxins in the paint in the water so they are not airborne. Good luck!

    **Do not use that crock pot to make food in afterwards**

  5. Tara Garcia says:

    I recently had all the doorknobs stolen from a house I’m renovating. I have replaced all the antique glass doorknobs at a salvage store, but upon installation, I realize I need the rosettes. I intend to just purchase new ones, but need to know if there is a certain size I should order as they come in different sizes from 5/8 to 21/32 inch collars.

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