Literally every day (multiple times a day) we use hardware to make something happen. When we need grab a cup from our cabinet we grab the handle to pull it open. When we return home from work, we reach for the doorknob and turn it, before we can enter. When we go out to eat, we pull the restaurant door open by grabbing the handle. Hardware serves an important function in our lives. Most of us probably don’t even realize it but without hardware, our lives would be much different and probably a lot harder…
There are so many different types of hardware and many different manufacturers. In fact, although we have been in the locksmith, door and hardware business and industry for many, many years (over 10 years), I’m sure there are still multiple locks and devices that we have yet to be able to work on.
So, how does one choose the type of hardware they want for a particular project? This is an interesting question. And one that will be answered differently depending on the specific situation. For example, broadly speaking, commercial hardware is much different than residential. So, let’s examine hardware from both a residential and commercial perspective.
For residential purposes, the most commonly used hardware includes: deadbolts, doorknobs, and handlesets. For commercial purposes, the most commonly used hardware includes panic hardware (exit devices), levers and mortise locks. But this is just a very small example.
For both purposes (residential and commercial), there is an increasing trend towards installing keypad (or keyless entry) locks. These types of keypad locks vary considerably by price, aesthetics and function. For residential purposes, keypad locks tend to be digital. In the commercial sector, some keypad locks are digital, however, there are many mechanical keypad units as well. The reason for this is that mechanical keypad locks are the easiest to maintain. They don’t require new batteries or much maintenance. And, mechanical keypad locks tend to be available in the styles necessary for commercial applications (i.e. narrow stile).
Also, many business (including hospitality, lodging and healthcare to name a few) prefer to utilize electronic hardware (either wired or standalone) which operates as a form of access control. This hardware is often operated by a card (either magnetic swipe or RFID) which give users the credentials (i.e. authority) to enter and thus operates (i.e. unlocks) the hardware.
Now you might be asking, what are the top rated locks in the marketplace today? There are literally hundreds of manufacturers out there. As professional in the locksmith, door and hardware industry, we aren’t even acquainted with all of the manufacturers or products that exist. There really are that many options out there! However, over the years we have come to use quite a few different brands/types of hardware and therefore, we do have some recommendations.
Major Hardware Companies
In the US, there are a few companies that dominate the door opening (i.e. hardware) market. These companies are quite large and, through the years, have acquired other, smaller companies as well. Take a look at the following list:
Assa Abloy is the largest company (and most likely the leader) in the hardware and door opening industry. There are numerous brands under the Assa Abloy Group such as: Pemko, Adams Rite, Sargent, Emtek, McKinney, Medeco and Mul-T-Lock.
Allegion is also quite large in the door opening industry. There are many well known brands under the Allegion Group, such as: Schlage, Flacon, LCN and Von Duprin
Dorma+Kaba is another large one and is especially active in the lodging industry with brands such as Kaba, Saflock, Oracode and Ilco.
Stanley is a much smaller player these days in the industry but still makes quality products under the brands of Stanley, Precision Hardware and Best.
Made in USA Certification
These days it is fairly difficult to find companies that still manufacture in the US. However, there is (1) company that we would like to note for their diligence to do this when possible.
Marks is a smaller company, however, they are truly a US company – Marks is located in the US and manufactures their products in the US. Therefore, we do tend to use products from Marks when possible.
Schlage (Grade 2)
Schlage is a well-known manufacturer and for good reason. They make a variety of different locks and products (all grades). They are known for making reasonably priced yet good quality goods that adhere to European standards. Schlage is also readily available for purchase nearly everywhere, at local hardwares stores, big box stores and online. They have a large portion of the hardware market and they set the standard for which other hardware manufacturers attempt to live up to.
Emtek has a large selection of designer locks and handlesets. These products are recommended when aesthetics are important (e.g. large, custom made entry doors). As a side note, Emtek was recently bought out by Assa Abloy so the Emtek brand may be gaining in reputation and the quality of their products may soon be increasing.
Schlage (Grade 1)
Schlage has been in business for a long time and they are known innovators. On top of that, they make quality products and stand behind those products with strong warranties. Their products are easily expandable and integratable. For these reasons, Schlage is one of the top manufacturers of commercial hardware.
LCN makes only door closers of all kinds, strength and durability. They are the best door closer company around. In fact, their 440 series is mimicked by many other manufacturers.
Von Duprin sets the standard for exit devices. All the private labels copy Von Duprin for their own product lines. For exit devices, Von Duprin is simply the best.