Although the door was undoubtedly invented in either Europe or the Middle East, It was an American who received the first patent for the device that made it useful and ubiquitous. The doorknob was invented in 1878 by an American inventor by the name of Osbourn Dorsey. The mechanism did not make him famous, but it did give every user some much needed privacy. There is no way to know exactly how many doorknobs are sold each year, since they are as necessary and as commonplace as nails and screws on a construction site. With that said, door hardware is not a generic commodity. There are differences between doorknobs and locksets that are designed in the U.S. and those that are made overseas. Which are better?

Like most things, it depends on who you ask. European door hardware is becoming increasingly popular in large hotels, especially those that cater to tourists. The differences between the two types of door hardware aren’t necessarily night and day, but they are easy enough to distinguish. Let us take a moment to discuss them.


As a general rule, European door hardware is smaller than its American counterpart. There is really no practical reason for this. Europeans do not have smaller hands than Americans or have less difficulty opening doors. These smaller European locksets are simply a matter of aesthetics. Folks on the other side of the ocean prefer smaller doorknobs and levers to the larger models we have here, in the States.

Multiple cylinders

There is also a difference in the actual mechanism. Most of the locks in North America have a single or double-cylinder lock, while European locksets typically have three lock points. These locks are generally stronger and more secure, but they can be a bit fussy. When doors swell or stick because of the temperature or climate, this door hardware can be quite stubborn.


Because they have multiple lock points, European locksets are more difficult and expensive to install than American models. Furthermore, not all American doors are compatible with these locks. So, before you order them, make sure your doors can accommodated these locks or it could cost you a fortunate in return shipping or modifications.

The benefits

As we said, European locksets are more secure than American ones. They have three lock points, compared to only two or even one. This makes them extremely difficult to pick from the outside or even to tamper with. A brazen thief who tries to kick down a door will have a much harder time gaining entry to an apartment or home that is protected with European door hardware. After all, they would have to kick in three locks instead of one!

How to use them

European locks are extremely popular on large, heavy doors on both sides of the Atlantic. They typically require an extra motion to engage or disengage them, such as lifting a lever and pushing in, rather than simply turning a knob. This extra step may be inconvenient, but it also makes the door more secure. The thumb turn on the inside lock must also be rotated 360 degrees, instead of 90 degrees as in North American models, in order to disengage the lock from the inside. Once again, this is an extra added security feature designed to keep unwanted intruders where they belong, i.e., out of your house!