passage vs privacy door knob

Privacy vs. Passage Door Knob: Where to Use

Which should you choose between a privacy or passage door knob? When selecting a door knob for your home’s interior, it is essential to know exactly what you want. That’s only possible if you understand what each of these types of door knobs means.

While these doorknob types are for interior use, they are significantly different. This article advances the privacy vs. passage door knob debate to help you know which doorknob works best in given situations. Keep reading for more information.

What is a privacy door knob?

Privacy door knobs are those meant for use on interior doors. They have a push-button on the inside, which one pushes to lock the room. The room occupant would need to press the button again to let other people in.

Opening a typical private door knob from outside using a key is also possible. However, that only becomes necessary in an emergency for rescuing the room’s occupant. Inserting a narrow object into the included small hole can also get the door opened.

Privacy knobs are great for bedroom and bathroom doors in the home. They come in various styles and configurations, making them very versatile.

Purpose of Privacy Door Knob

The purpose of a privacy door knob is just that – to provide privacy to the occupant of a particular room. For example, bathroom door knobs with privacy lock help maintain privacy for someone in the toilet.

Makers of these door knobs make them differently, with some having a push-button and others a turning mechanism. A privacy doorknob would have a pin for securing the door in some instances.

Once turned on, the button or pin locks the door until the room’s occupant turns the knob. Anyone turning a knob from outside cannot open the door. However, this type of knob has a hole, where one can insert a privacy key to rescue you when there’s a need.

The privacy key looks very different from the standard door key. It has a thin shaft on one end and a hook or loop. It is easy to use to open.

Even though privacy keys are created differently depending on the brand, they are easy to use. Whenever you need to use a privacy key, here is a simple process you can follow:

Step 1: Take your key and insert its flat end into the knob’s center hole. Keep pushing it into the hole till you feel it stop.

Step 2: Turn it clockwise until it falls unto the groove.

Step 3: Lever locks work differently from knob locks. Turn the key leftward to the left in a lever lock and the right for a knob lock.

While most privacy keys work using the process described above, others have a round shaft. After inserting in the center hole, it is not necessary to turn these door knobs. Instead, you only need to push the key into the hole to get the door opened.

What Is Passage Door Knob?

Passage door knobs are non-locking door knobs used in interior doors. Since they turn freely, they don’t include a locking button, pin, or key. One only needs to rotate the handle to open the door.

There is a non-locking knob on the outside and inside of the door. If you want to lock these doors from inside, installing a latch is necessary. They are ideal for parts of the house or rooms where privacy is not required.

Non-locking door knobs come in various styles and configurations, depending on the designer and manufacturer. Therefore, you can easily find a door knob that blends in with your home architectural design and interior décor.

Purpose of Passage Door Knob

Passage knobs are ideal for interior hallways where there’s the need to pass quickly. You can also use unkeyed knobs in parts of your home where privacy is not a key consideration. They are great in the kitchen, living rooms, laundry, and utility.

These are non-locking door knobs that have no lock and key mechanism. Unlike the one-sided door knob, they work by turning knobs on both sides.

You can also use this knob is your children’s playroom or bedroom. A passage knob makes it easier for you to access the room and keep your children safe.

While the primary purpose of a passage door knob is in the interior of your home, you may use it in the exterior. Before doing so, you need to consider the following:

●      Security: One of the biggest concern is whether there is a match between the doorknobs in a home. But that might not guarantee security since handle set without locking mechanism is prone to tampering by lockpickers, making it the most insecure. It has a security grade 3 from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

●      Environment: Fluctuations in the weather conditions can corrode passage knobs, making them less ideal for exterior doors. They are mostly made of stainless steel and brass materials, which may not last long when exposed to the elements. If you insist on a passage knob on your front door, add a deadbolt for additional security since it requires opening with a key before entering your home.

Differences Between Privacy and Passage Door Knobs

  • Privacy door knobs are lockable, while passage door knobs are not.
  • The purpose of privacy door knobs is to secure rooms where privacy is of the essence, while passage doorknobs are great in doorways.
  • Once locked, it is not possible to open privacy door knobs from outside, while it is possible to open passage door knobs from any side, any time.
  • Privacy door knobs may not work on exterior doors, while passage door knobs may work on exterior doors with the addition of a deadbolt.

Buying Guide: Privacy Vs. Passage Door Knob

Wondering the types of door hardware to buy? Several factors can guide you to make the right decision before settling on a particular door knob. They include the following:

1. Security

The level of security a doorknob can provide is one of the most important considerations. If you intend to use the door knob in your home entrance, you should get this factor right. The ANSI tests and rates doorknobs for the level of security they can provide.

Grade 1 door knobs can provide the highest level of security, grade 2, a decent level, while grade 3 provides only essential protection. Since they are not great for entrance doors, privacy and passage knobs fall in the third category. However, passage knobs are better since they are excellent in entrances with deadbolts.

2. Privacy

It is essential to pay attention to the ability of a doorknob to provide privacy in certain rooms inside the house. When considering the privacy vs. passage door knob debate, you may want to go for privacy door knobs. They include a locking mechanism that secures the door to provide security for occupants of bedrooms, bathrooms, and so on.

The passage door knob, on the other hand, doesn’t have a locking mechanism and cannot guarantee privacy. If you use it in the bathroom, you might end up in embarrassing situations. It won’t be effective in keeping away unnecessary intruders.

3. Cost

Like everything else, you can only buy a door knob if you can afford it. Always make sure you have a budget within which you wish to operate. With that, you can narrow it down to a few products.

Whichever pricing category you choose, check that the door knob has your desired features. You may compare different doorknobs within the same pricing category and pick the best. If you are on a budget, then a primary doorknob would do. However, if you can afford a better door knob, why shouldn’t you buy it?

4. Locking Mechanism

There are two basic things you should consider – the types of door handle mechanism and types of door handles and locks. The handle mechanism can be a lever or knob. In the second category, you may choose between a privacy or passage door knob.

Choose a privacy door knob if you want to install it on a door to your bathroom or bedroom. On the other hand, a passage door knob is great for passageways and other rooms where there’s no need for privacy.

5. Hardware Finish

The type of finish on a doorknob may determine whether or not you would buy it. A good example is the oil-rubbed bronze finish, which tends to develop a patina with time.

There’s also the polished brass, which gets tarnished quickly when used outdoors. Another option is the pewter finish, which can be nickel glossy, depending on the brand.


What is a privacy set door knob?

A privacy doorknob is for providing privacy to individuals in bathrooms, bedrooms, and other spaces inside your room. It has a locking mechanism, which one can use to lock the door from inside. Anyone trying to open the door from outside cannot succeed.

What is a dummy doorknob?

A dummy door knob is an imitation one-sided knob installed either on the front or behind the door. It is suitable for small pantry or shallow closet doors. They have no working parts but are only for show.

Can I use a passage door knob for the front door?

Yes. You can use a passage for the front door, especially if you combine it with a keyless deadbolt or smart lock. When used alone on the front door, a passage door knob may not provide adequate security.

What are passage door knobs used for?

Passage door knobs are used on closets, interior hallways, and rooms that do not require privacy. Just like dummy doorknobs, they are unkeyed and unsuitable for rooms where privacy is of the essence.

What is the difference between privacy lock and passage lock?

The main difference between privacy doorknobs and passage door knobs is the former has a locking system and the latter doesn’t. Therefore, privacy door knobs are ideal for bathrooms, bedrooms, and other rooms where privacy is necessary.


Now that you have read all aspects that go into the privacy vs passage door knob debate, which one would you buy? A privacy door knob is a one-way system that helps maintain privacy for users of bathrooms and in bedrooms. On the other hand, a passage door knob is great for use in hallways, kitchens, sitting rooms, etc.

The door knob type you select depends on its purpose, price, and locking mechanism. Pay attention to these aspects to avoid ending up with a useless doorknob

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