Why Are Door Handles So High In Australia?

25 May 2020
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It’s a subject which can leave people baffled, why do some Australian properties have door handles fitted so high?

No, it has nothing to do with Australians being taller than other nationalities, but more to do with the age of a door.

You’ll find that the average modern door in a new property is around two metres high and the handle will be at waist height. Visit an older property and a door handle will be higher up.

Older doors

Australian houses, especially Federation houses and those built before World War II, would often have door handles two-thirds of the way up the door. The exact reason why is still unclear. Some people argue that it was to ensure children couldn’t enter rooms, while others say it was more a trend or fashion.

Doors which are around a hundred years old, usually have door handles placed 1440mm from the floor. If you’ve ever visited historic homes, you may have come across dado and picture rails which were all positioned quite high up a wall. Historians say one of the reasons for their introduction was to make a room which had high ceilings appear cosier and it was an optical trick to bring the ceiling height down. Door handles may have been fitted high to follow this theme.

Australian door handle notoriety

The position of door handles in Australia has even been a source for fascination for overseas visitors. When filming the 2017 horror movie in Australia called ‘Better Watch Out’ American director and writer Chris Peckover mentioned door handle height in an online interview.

He claimed they were so abnormally high, his eyes were constantly drawn to them, they were a source of frustration and detracted him from filming.

What’s the history behind door knobs and handles?

The doorknob was invented by American Osbourn Dorsey in 1878 when he submitted a patent for a door knob or door holding device as it was called back then. Prior to that many people used latches or leather straps as handles to keep doors closed.

Following on from Dorsey’s invention, door knobs started to become elaborate, some were made of cut glass china, wood and ceramic. Cast metal knobs became very popular throughout the early part of the 21st Century.

These door knobs paved the way for what’s now known as door handles and levers.

Positioning of door handles

If you’re living in a property which is seventy years old or less, then chances are your handles and knobs on your doors will be around 1000mm from the floor.

Ask a carpenter or a door manufacturer and they’ll point to an Australian Standard which recommends they should be installed between 900mm and 1050mm from the floor. For aesthetic reasons, it’s always best to have your handles at the same height on all your doors so they look neat and uniform.

Ultimately, the choice of where you want to put your door handles is entirely up to you. If you want advice on anything to do with doors, speak to the team at Door Stop. We sell a vast range of affordable, superior quality doors and all types of hardware. We offer a price match guarantee so come and visit one of our showrooms in either Joondalup or Osborne Park to find out more.

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