Dummy doorknobs are aptly named because they don't do anything a doorknob is expected to do. They don't latch, and they don't turn. If you walk through your house, however, you'll see that these kinds of knobs are pretty useful for certain applications.
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Interior vs. Exterior Doorknobs
Interior doorknobs, which include dummy doorknobs, are practical knobs used to close doors or to provide some privacy in the case of interior doorknobs with locks. Exterior doorknobs are a whole different thing because they must provide security. They vary in design and functionality depending on the level of security required. Frequently, they are complemented by dead bolts for extra security.
What Is a Dummy Doorknob?
A dummy doorknob is just a pull; pull on the knob to open the door, push on it to close the door, and that's that. If you try to twist one from force of habit, it will be fixed. Dummy doorknobs can be either full or half. Half dummy doorknobs, sometimes called "single dummy" knobs, have a knob on only one side of a door, while the full version, or the "double dummy," has knobs on both sides. It may instead have levers, but the operation will be the same.
What are they good for? Half dummy knobs are useful on cabinets or doors that close side by side, such as French doors. You might see them on closet doors or pantry doors. Half dummies are mounted on a surface or may be thru-bolted. There won't be anything on the back of the door at all.
Full dummy doorknobs have two knobs, one for each side of the door, but there is no latch or turning mechanism. They have similar uses as the half dummy, but full dummy knobs are the preferred design when the door may need to be opened or closed from both sides.
Another Nonlocking Doorknob
Another doorknob similar to the dummy doorknob is the passage doorknob. This knob does turn, so it has a latch, but it has no key or facility for locking. These doors are operated by turning the handle or the knob to open the door, but since they don't lock, they don't pose the danger that someone could get locked into a space, such as a closet or child's room. They are also sometimes called "unkeyed knobs."
What Is a Privacy Doorknob?
If privacy is required, neither a dummy doorknob nor a passage doorknob is a good choice. In that case, you would want a common privacy doorknob that can be locked or unlocked using a push button or an emergency key from the outside. These are called privacy knobs because they are not designed to be secure. They won't withstand a break-in attempt, but they are a signal to anyone in the house that privacy is required. They are frequently used for bathrooms and bedrooms.