Internal door handle height in the UK, is a debated topic. People will usually range in opinion from 900mm to just over one meter.
Learning as an apprentice, I was always taught that the spindle for the handle should be marked at one meter from the floor. I personally feel this is a good height and 900mm is a little low.
However, some people may fit their handles lower, to be in line with the crossbar on a panel door. This really boils down to preference, so there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer.
Another height I hear mentioned quite a lot is 990mm. This also makes sense for two reasons:
- It is the middle of a 1981mm high door, which is a standard size
- If you are fitting from existing flooring (carpets for example) this will often mean an additional 10mm+, which often adds up to around one meter from the subfloor.
The latter point is just something I always assumed. Whenever I have fitted in new builds or refurbishments, I place the handle height at one meter from the floorboards. Whereas, if I was installing in an existing property, with carpets, 990mm usually matches up with existing door handles, on doors that were fitted before the carpets were laid.
This is merely an observation after hanging lots of doors over the years. But I don’t think you can go wrong with one meter as a standard door handle height.
Hollow door lock blocks
If you are fitting a hollow door, these will usually have something known as a lock block. This is a block of wood that is fitted inside the door. It is specifically designed for chopping your locks and latches into.
The side the block is located on, will be clearly marked on the top of the door. It will usually say something very simple, like LOCK. These blocks are usually around 300mm from top to bottom and the centre is 900mm from the bottom of the door. Therefore, there is some wiggle room to allow for variation in height.
Fitting to existing door handle height
Whatever your preferred handle height, the key is consistency. This means all handle heights should be uniform throughout a property. Especially in areas where you can easily see doors alongside each other, such as a landing.
If you like to fit handles at one meter, but all the existing handles are at 950mm, you should match the existing handles.
Don’t just fit the handle at one meter because you think this is the correct height. If you do this, your handle will be 50mm higher than the rest of the door handles. This will be very obvious and will result in the job looking rough.
Thinking your handle is the right height and existing handles are wrong is irrelevant. Making them match is far more important.
This is true for most things in carpentry, construction, and even DIY. The goal is not always to do everything to a strict unchangeable set of rules.
Obviously, you should observe and follow building regulations, but where this is not an issue, your primary goal, should be to make things fit well and look good. This is especially true with finishing work like ironmongery on doors.
If the handles don’t match, you will notice this every time you see them. It will be even more noticeable when you are aware of it.
Therefore, you should always match existing handle height to achieve an aesthetically pleasing finish.
Marking door handle height
Marking your door handle height is very easy. Simply measure from the floor to the desired height (for example one meter).
At one meter, mark a small faint horizontal line. Using a square transfer this line around to the other side of the door.
Next measure from the face plate of your latch to the centre of the spindle hole. This will give you the exact measurement for the hole.
At this point you can measure from the edge of the door and mark a small faint vertical line. Now you should have a small cross where the horizontal and vertical lines meet. This is where the hole for your spindle will go. Ensure this is exactly the same on each side.
Once this is marked correctly, you have your handle height.
Drilling out and fitting your handle
Before you drill the hole for your spindle, you should first cut out the mortice for your latch. To do this, use your line that was drawn around for handle height and draw a vertical line through it on the face of the door edge.
Again you will have a perfect central cross for drilling out your mortice. Drill out the hole with an appropriately sized drill bit. Personally I like to use Auger bits, but you could also use flat wood bits (spade bits).
Following this, you will probably need to chisel the hole slightly to get a better fit.
Once the latch fits in the hole, all the way up to the face plate and looks central. You can drill out the spindle holes. Drill both sides from the outside in. This will avoid blowing the front of your door out (this is also the reason we drill the latch first).
The last job will be to cut the face plate out, so your latch sits flush with the edge of the door. If you get this right, then your handle holes should match up exactly with the spindle hole in your latch.
At this point you can insert your spindle and attach the handles either side.
There is no exact, definitive height for handles. However, it will usually range between 900mm and 1000mm. Either way, you should ensure that you always match up with existing door handles.
If you are fitting all new doors and haven’t decided on handle height, you could consider the door design, in order to choose an aesthetically pleasing height, that fits the door.