What is a Privacy Door Handle

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There are many various types of door handles, and when in the market for interior door handles, you may come across privacy door handles. If you are unfamiliar with this handle type, you may find yourself wondering, what is a privacy door handle?

A privacy door handle is a specialized handle that has no key but is rather locked from the inside of the room by turning a small button or lever. Privacy door handles are usually used for bathrooms, bedrooms, and other interior doors only, as they are not secure enough for exterior doors.

Privacy door handles come in various types, and they are growing in popularity worldwide. These handles and locks are very convenient and are perfect for interior doors. Let’s have a closer look at privacy door handles and what makes them different from regular door locks.

What Makes a Privacy Handle Different From a Regular Handle?

Privacy door handles are not the typical secure locking handle that is used on exterior doors.

The difference lies in the locking mechanism of the door handle. These handles are not locked by using a key but rather by turning a small button or lever on the inside door handle.

Privacy door handles can only be locked from the inside, but they can be unlocked from the outside by using a generic tool supplied by the manufacturer or by using a hairpin or a coin, depending on the brand.

This type of handle does not have a key cylinder, which is why it does not require a key.

Types of Privacy Door Handles

Privacy door handles are specialized handles that are meant for use on interior doors. While this is true, there are multiple types of privacy door handleseach with its own advantages, and understanding them is important when choosing which to use.

Let’s examine the main types of privacy door handles that are commonly used worldwide:

Integrated and Separate Privacy Door Handles

The two main types of privacy door handles are integrated privacy handles and separate privacy handles.

The difference between the two handle types is that integrated privacy handles have the locking mechanism integrated as part of the handle itself, and the separate privacy handles have a locking mechanism that is separate from the handle.

Integrated privacy handles have a built-in lock that is usually activated by a button or lever on the rose of the handle, as you can see in the picture below.

Kwikset 97300-817 Tustin Traditional Wave Bedroom/Bathroom Privacy Locking Door Lever Handle in Satin Nickel

Separate privacy handles have a separate handle and lock. The lock is usually mounted on the door below the handle, and the handle is nothing more than a latch to open and close the door. The separate locking mechanism is typically activated by turning a button or lever on the lock itself.

Both of these privacy lock types function in the same way and can be unlocked from the outside in case of emergencies, as with all privacy locks.

Pros and Cons of Integrated Privacy Door Handles

Integrated privacy door handles are less popular than separate privacy handles, but they are still commonly used worldwide.

Let’s look closer at some of the pros and cons of integrated privacy door handles:


  • Integrated privacy handles are affordable.
  • Integrated privacy handles are simple and quick to install.
  • Integrated privacy handles very convenient and can be operated with one hand.


  • Integrated privacy handles are less secure than separate handles.
  • Integrated privacy handles are not very durable and not long-lasting.
  • Integrated privacy handles are less aesthetically pleasing.
  • Integrated privacy handles are usually lower-quality products.

Pros and Cons of Separate Privacy Door Handles

Separate privacy door handles are the more popular option between the twin main types of privacy handles, and this is usually because they are more aesthetically pleasing than integrated privacy handles.

This is a closer look at a few of the pros and cons of separate privacy door handles:


  • Separate privacy door handles are more secure than integrated privacy handles.
  • Separate privacy door handles are very durable and last for a long time.
  • Most separate privacy door handles have a lifetime warranty.
  • Separate privacy door handles are more aesthetically pleasing.


  • Separate privacy door handles are expensive to buy and install.
  • Separate privacy door handles are more difficult and take longer to install.
  • Separate privacy door handles are slightly more inconvenient to operate than integrated privacy handles.

Door Knobs and Door Levers

Privacy door handles come in many variations and types, but two commonly used types are privacy door knobs and privacy door levers.

Privacy door knobs and privacy door levers operate and function in the same way, but the key difference between the two handle types is how they are operated, and the aesthetics of the two types of privacy handles.

When deciding between these types of privacy door handles, it is important to choose the type that best suits the interior design and the overall look of the environment where the door handle will be used.

One should not feel limited to choose only one type of privacy door handle, as both types can be used appropriately within the same establishment.

Privacy door handles are usually installed on the interior of a house or building, and so the appropriate type should be used to match the existing door handles, whether door knobs or door handles.

Risks of Installing a Privacy Door Handle

Privacy door handles are very convenient, and they are a quick and easy way of obtaining some privacy in a bedroom or bathroom, eliminating the risk of someone accidentally walking in at an inappropriate moment.

However, while the handles offer some needed privacy, there are some inherent risks that come along with using them in your home.

Privacy door handles are usually used on bathroom or bedroom doors, and they can be easily locked from the inside but not so easily unlocked from the outside.

This may be a problem if a child or an elderly person locks themselves on the inside of the room and is unable to get out because they do not understand how to operate the locking mechanism of the privacy door handle.

Another issue may arise if the privacy door handle has been locked while a person is showering, and the person slips and falls in the shower. The door may not be opened from the outside very easily, leaving the person trapped inside without help.

If a privacy door handle is locked while the door is open, when the door is closed, it will remain locked, even if there is no one on the inside to unlock it, leaving the room sealed off without access.

In some cases, you may have to break the door down (if you cannot find the correct opening tool), so you should also consider the best swing direction of the doors onto which you install a privacy lock.

Is There a Way to Open a Privacy Handle From the Outside?

Privacy door handles are meant to be locked and unlocked from the inside, using a built-in lever or button, sometimes referred to as a “snib.”

The snib is always on the inside of a privacy door handle, and it is meant to be operated from the inside only, but what if there is an emergency or if someone is trapped on the inside of the room? Is there are a way to open a privacy handle from the outside?

Privacy handles are always equipped with an emergency unlock that be accessed from the outside of the room.

This is usually a small access port that leads to a button or clip that unlocks the door. This emergency unlock can be operated with a generic tool that is provided by the lock manufacturer or even by a hairpin in some cases.

Other privacy locks have a shallow groove on the handle on the exterior portion of the lock, which can be operated with a coin to unlock the door from the outside.

If you are specifically looking for a lock that can be opened from the outside, you are not just limited to the privacy handles. There are other options available, as you can see from this list.

Can a Privacy Door Handle Be Used for a Front Door?

Privacy door handles are not very secure and are usually only used for interior doors. These locks are not secure because they do not require a key to be unlocked, can be readily opened from the outside by anyone who has a generic tool or even a hairpin.

This means that privacy door handles should not be used for a front door.

There are no strict regulations regarding locks for front doors, but in certain countries, homeowners are required to use safety-regulated locks by insurance companies in order to secure an insurance claim in the event of a break-in, and privacy locks do not provide sufficient security for use on an entrance door.







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