Ultimate Guide to Door Handing & Handed Door Handles: Left Handed Levers Vs Right Hand Levers

So, you're in the market for a new set of door handles...fantastic news! But making the correct choice is not always easy, let alone when you start adding the various designs and finishes.

There are a myriad of items you need to check to make sure you select the correct specification of handle, and one of these is understanding the handing of the door, and handing of the door handle that needs to be fitted to it.

This article will hopefully provide some key information to help you understand and select the correct door handle. We have broken this down into the following sections to help you navigate the information quickly and easily:

  1. How To Check If I Need a Right or Left-handed Door Handle?
  2. How To Check What Handing My Door Is?
  3. What Type of Doors Require Handed Door Handles?
  4. Why Are Doors Handed?
  5. Are Lever Handles Reversible?
  6. Can I Change the Handing of My Door Handle?
  7. What About Offset Pull Handles?
  8. What About Sliding Doors?

How To Check If I Need a Right or Left-handed Door Handle?

There are 3 key items you need to check to help determine if you need a right or left-handed door handle.

Firstly we need to work out whether the type of door you are upgrading the handles on actually requires a handed set of door handle levers.

After that, we need to determine what the handing of the door is before finally, we can make the correct selection of door handles.

Let's get cracking...

How To Check What Handing My Door Is?

Ah the juicy bit, and probably the easy bit in the grand scheme of things. Follow this easy process:

  • Go to the door and stand on the external side of the door, facing towards the door
  • Don't move, but visually locate the position of the hinges on the door (to the left of you or to the right)
  • If the hinges are on the left side, then it is a left-hand door and you need a left-handed door handle
  • If the hinges are on the right side, then it is a right-hand door and you need a right-handed door handle
  • Easy!

On French doors, they should be a hinge on the eft-handd side of you and the right side, hence you will need one off each.

For sliding patio doors, keep the door open and note the position of the handle, that is the handing. For example, if the handle is on the right-hand side when the patio door is open then it is a right hand door, and needs a right-hand patio door handle.

What Type of Doors Require Handed Door Handles?

The handing of a door refers to the direction that it swings in which also determines the location and handing of the door handle.

All doors are handed, however not all doors always need a handed set of door handles. The handing on door handles is pretty much reserved for those doors that have an external, secure side or a very specific premium side. For example, this includes:

External Doors

Almost all modern external doors will require a handed set of door handles, especially if they have a multi-point lock. This is to prevent any screws being visible on the outside face of the door, which could lead to the easy removal of the door handle in the unfortunate event of a break-in.

Get it wrong and you will either have the screws facing the external side of the door, your handle upside down or the handle will be pointing away from the door (and most likely hitting the door frame or jamb).

French Doors

French doors are becoming more and more common as an architectural feature, where 2 doors are placed side-by-side and lock into one another. Similar to a conventional external door, as there is a clear external side, each door is handed.

However, it is slightly easier to determine the handing as you will need a left-hand and a right-hand combination to make sure the door functions properly.

If you had 2 of the same hand installed, then you will either have the screws facing outward on 1 side, or the handle will be hitting the other door when you open and close your French doors.

Patio Sliding Doors

Patio sliding doors are a firm favourite on most new builds allowing you easy physical and visual access to the outside. However, when it comes to replacing the patio handles on your sliding doors, these will be handed, again as there is a clear external side to the door.

If you have sliding doors that meet in the middle, then the good news is, similar to French doors, you will need one of each hand to make the system work.

If you have the wrong hand, the screws will face the outside, or the handle will go against the wall as it faces the wrong direction.

Premium Internal Doors

Most internal doors won't require a handed door handle, but certain door handles will still come with a handing that you can use to your advantage when designing a new room. If you have a room where you specifically don't want to see the screws, then you could use a handed door handle to hide the screws on one side of the handle.

An alternative to this for internal doors is to use a concealed handle as well, but for certain premium door handles this may not be an option.

Why Are Doors Handles Handed?

In a nutshell, no! Handed door handles only affect a few specific types of doors that generally have a distinct "outside" face or a "premium" face. Standard door handles are generally not handed as the handle is installed separately on both sides of the door, this means you can switch the handing to suit the door without any changes.

However, handed door handles are designed specifically with security in mind so that the screw heads are only on the internal side of the door. This means the door handles can't be taken off easily from the outside - unless you physically break the handle.

Hence you will find that these types of door handles will come with a handing. However, you can also get a reversible door handle that allows the door handle to be cleverly flipped into left-hand and right-hand formats. This is great if you are unsure which hand you need, or if you are a locksmith or carpenter performing a repair job.

Are Lever Handles Reversible?

Some are, but not all. Reversible door handles need to be designed symmetrical so that their design is the same no matter whether it is in a left-hand format or right-hand.

The majority of multi-point handles that are now available on the market are generally reversible and you just flip the handle to the required direction. You just need to buy one pair of handles and not worry too much, this works well for maintenance teams and locksmiths.

However, on some handles that contain more intricate designs, they will come handed and you will have to purchase them in a specific handing - short of trying to reassemble the door handle yourself.

For patio door handles, these will come handed. However, the handing on these can be more easily changed by taking the bolts off the back and flipping the handle 180 degrees, and reassembling the bolts.

Can I Change The Handing of My Door Handle?

The honest answer is - most probably not.

The only way this can be done in the majority of scenarios is to re-assemble the handle - but we would not recommend this without speaking to the manufacturer as it could void your warranty etc.

It would be easier to simply ask for the handle to be replaced with the correct handing, or purchase a reversible handle.

What About Offset Pull Handles?

So you have a nice fancy offset pull handle on your door that needs replacing, surely that needs handing to make sure it faces the right way right?

No, thankfully (there are already too many spec options for our pull handle range!). The offset pull handles are symmetrical, so they can be flipped 180 degrees to convert them from left-hand to right-handle pull handles - easily reversible.

What About Sliding Doors?

Sometimes sliding doors may need handed door hardware, so how do we determine the handing on these? Similar to our sliding patio doors, you need to stand on the external side of the door (or premium side), open the door and note the side the handle is on.

If it is on the right side then it is a right-hand door and needs right-hand hardware, or vice versa for the left-hand.

About The Author

Shaun Singh has been involved in the ironmongery and hardware industry for over 20 years. Growing up with the family business, Shaun first began work supporting production optimisation and product development before completing his Masters in Engineering from Loughborough University. Whilst remaining involved within the family business of door and window hardware, Shaun's experience within the automotive and energy sectors provided transferrable skills to bring back to Loxta, which he now runs as Managing Director.