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How to Choose Window and Door Handles: Types, Materials, Style and Functionality

12 June 2024

Window handles are accessories whose choice should not be overlooked. They are very important from the point of view of aesthetics and functionality. In this article, we offer a complete overview of the features of window and door handles (qualities they must have, types, materials), as well as a series of tips on how to choose the best window handle. 

Why choose the right window handle

Choosing a window and door is not a simple process and requires the right amount of time, as there are numerous elements to take into consideration. Among them, the handle cannot be forgotten: an accessory that is first and foremost functional, but also aesthetic. To combine design and functionality, the handle must have certain features, as well as being able to adapt well to both the window opening mechanism and the style of the house and its furnishings.

But how to choose the right window and door handle? There are many types, shapes, colours and finishes on the market. Choosing them all carefully can make all the difference and give the chosen window a unique character. In fact, the best window and door can be recognised also and above all by its details.

As will be discussed in more detail later in the article, the choice of the best window and door handles should therefore be made according to:

  • the handle type, which links directly to the closing type of the window;
  • the different features of the handle, also depending on one’s needs and the different rooms in  the house, each of which requires different qualities in terms of practicality, safety and design;
  • the frequency with which the handle is used, as well as the physical condition of the user;
  • the type of material from which they are made, which will provide different features with regard to cleaning and maintenance, practicality and aesthetics;
  • the style, in terms of colours, finishes and shapes, to match that of the house, as well as the handles of other windows and doors.

A window handle is an accessory that will be used every day, several times a day, for many years (since they usually have a very long service life). It is clear, therefore, that it is a choice to be weighed carefully and clearly.

Best window handles: types, materials and features to consider

Let’s start talking about window and door handles from a technical point of view: what models and types can there be? What materials can they be made of? What features must they have to represent the right investment? 

Types of window handles

Thanks to numerous technological developments, window handles today come in types that meet a variety of requirements. The most classic types of handles can be said to be the following:

  • cremone bolts: these are the most classic type of window handles, with a ‘T’-shaped handgrip (also known as a ‘butterfly’);
  • handgrips: they have a handgrip very similar to a lever, with the opening/closing hinge placed on their top;
  • tilt-and-turn (DK) handles: they are aesthetically similar to handgrips, but the inside mechanism allows them to be locked at two different points, so that they can be adapted to bottom-hung windows;
  • concealed or recessed handles: these are handles with special rotation mechanisms that allow them to be invisible when not in use;
  • lifting sliding handles: handles specially designed for lifting sliding windows and doors, with special shapes and mechanisms that allow them to slide and lock.

Already from this first distinction, it is noted that different handles meet different requirements. In fact, from a technical point of view, DK handles are the most suitable for all casement windows that also have a bottom-hung window opening. This type of opening is now very common in all modern houses because it allows air to be recirculated very effectively, thus increasing the living comfort of the tenants. From a more aesthetic and design point of view, on the other hand, concealed handles are perfect to be installed on windows and doors with a more modern and minimalist look.

Materials for window and door handles

In order to understand how to choose the right handle for windows and doors, one must also pitch in by the materials from which it can be made. Windows and doors themselves exist in different materials: aluminium, PVC and wood are the main ones and they all have different features. Aluminium, in particular, is the material we tend to recommend for its many qualities: high resistance to atmospheric agents, long life, easy aesthetic customisation, no maintenance, and much more.

The handles, however, can also be made of different materials.

Each determines the final appearance in a very decisive way.

  • Aluminium handles. A light, ductile, flexible material that is extremely easy to clean and resistant to impact, abrasion and corrosion due to the natural acidity of human skin. Aluminium is also a material that can be customised in a wide range of styles, colours and finishes, as it is easy to shape and colour by painting or oxidation. Finally, it is a material that can be 100% recycled in an infinite way, without ever losing its extraordinary qualities over time. From the aesthetic point of view, aluminium handles can adapt perfectly to any furnishing style, although they look their best in homes with a modern, contemporary, minimalist or industrial look.
  • Stainless steel handles. Again, in this case, you have a material that is easy to clean and resistant to scratches and dents. It is the material of choice for modern homes that require special anti-break-in security mechanisms.
  • Brass handles. This alloy of copper and zinc is often used for handles to be mounted on traditionally cut windows, such as those made of wood, suitable for houses with a classic or rustic style. The amount of zinc in the alloy can affect the colour and strength of the handle. It is a material that requires proper care, so it is preferable to use it only for internal handles.
  • Bronze handles. They adapt well to different contexts, have antibacterial properties and enjoy high corrosion resistance.

To these more commonly used materials we can add a list of different types of materials, which reflect very well the study and research carried out over the years in favour of window handles that are increasingly customisable and adaptable to the living context. For example, handles can be made of resin, glass, porcelain, wood, wrought iron, each of these materials is ideal for immediately evoking a very precise idea of style and design.

Of course, in all these cases, it is essential to ask even more in-depth questions about the style requirements we want to meet, because these handles have a distinctive character that could become tiring over time. In addition, it is not always easy to find the right combinations of handles in these materials; they may, for example, not be available for sliding patio doors or the addition of anti-break-in devices.

With its clean, essential lines and excellent mechanical properties, aluminium is still the best material not only for windows and doors, but also for handles. METRA Building window and door handles are made of aluminium and guarantee maximum performance in terms of design, strength, durability and ease of use.

The qualities that the right window and door handle must have

Ultimately, what are the features to consider when choosing the best window handle? Of course, these features depend very much on one’s own needs, but overall, the following is what you should pay attention to.

  • Material quality. As we have just seen, window and door handles can be made of a wide range of materials. The choice can fall on any of them according to preference, but the important thing is that the material used is of high quality. As a basic rule, which one believes can apply to anyone, it is important to choose handles made of materials that have good mechanical strength, allow easy opening and closing of windows, are easy to clean on a daily basis and can represent a satisfactory investment over time.
  • Ease of use. When choosing windows and doors in the showroom, it is essential to touch the chosen handles and test their function. This helps to understand whether, in everyday life, the handle will allow the window to be used with ease and practicality. In this regard, as will be seen below, it is also important who will use the window, taking into account whether there are children, elderly people or people with reduced mobility.
  • Security against burglars. Again, later in the article we will see how certain types of handles respond more or less adequately to different anti-burglary security requirements.
  • Ease of matching. When furnishing a house or renovating it in a modern style, one thing no-one wants is a mismatch between different style elements. It is therefore important that the handle chosen for the windows matches harmoniously with other elements in the house, for example with the handles of the internal doors and the entrance door, but also with other furnishing solutions.
  • Manufacturer reliability. Those who make windows and doors professionally, such as METRA Building, know that they have fundamental features to guarantee maximum performance, such as the quality of the material from which it is made. But they also know that, without proper installation and the correct use of accessories, including handles, the window and door alone cannot guarantee what it promises. The manufacturer to rely on is therefore the one who can provide information and details about the features of the handles, as well as fit them with the utmost care and provide the appropriate spare parts and all the assistance necessary for the daily use of the handles.

How to choose handles for windows and doors: aesthetics and style

After having delved into the features of the best window and door handles in terms of good practices, materials and types, we now move on to understand how to choose window handles mainly from an aesthetic point of view. Indeed, it is undeniable that aesthetics is one of the fundamental components of this choice: even though handles are small and discrete pieces of furniture, they can actually have a significant aesthetic impact on the final look of the room in which they are located.

The style of window and door handles: the shape

Visibly, the first thing that strikes one about a handle is its shape. Today, there are window handles on the market made in virtually every conceivable shape, from the most classic to the most extravagant.

As a general tip, handles should remain relatively consistent with the general aesthetic taste of the house.

Choosing handles that do not conform much to it risks giving an impression of carelessness and lack of taste. Furthermore, it is good to remember that handles can last for decades, so it is important to choose a moderately sober type that does not risk becoming stale over time.

The ideal shape of window and door handles, therefore, is one that conforms to the style of the house and does not have too eccentric features. There are essentially two shapes to choose from:

  • rounded or ‘drop’ shape. With its soft, sinuous lines, it lends itself particularly well to houses with a classic, rustic or shabby chic style. It is usually combined with warm colours, such as gold, and wooden windows and doors.
  • square shape. Clean and essential, with a long, slim grip like those proposed by METRA Building, it is perfect for the most modern houses with a sophisticated, minimalist style. By fitting into the window and door profile, it also allows a few centimetres of sunlight to be recovered for a naturally bright home.

However, if a more special accessory is desired, the shapes of the handles lend themselves to various interpretations. Just think of the machining of wrought iron or the insertion of decorative elements into the handle that make it sophisticated and unique.

The style of window and door handles: colour

Colour is perhaps the stylistic element that has the greatest impact on the aesthetic taste of the handle. You may decide to use the same colour as the windows, but it is also very common to break the colour continuity with handles in similar shades or totally in contrast.

In houses with a more classic and traditional style, the preferred colour for handles is usually gold bronze, brown and warm metal tones; these shades are perfectly suited to warm and comfortable environments, perhaps with windows and doors made of wood. In this case, especially for homes that are very exposed to atmospheric agents such as in the countryside or in the mountains, the ideal choice is to choose aluminium-wood windows and doors: the external aluminium part protects the home and resists the signs of time, while the internal wooden part, with handles in warm tones, gives a sense of warmth to the environment.

On the other hand, silver and cold metal colours, typical of durable aluminium or steel handles, are usually preferred in more modern and contemporary houses. These cold colours allow rooms to acquire a lot in terms of refinement and sobriety.

The interesting part of materials like aluminium, however, is that they can be customised in a wide range of colours. While white is the option that most universally matches furnishing styles, other colours can be chosen to suit one’s taste. For example, an industrial-style house wants black or anthracite aluminium windows and doors with slender, slim lines, combined with handles of the same shape and colour. Black also provides a striking colour contrast when used on window handles in more flamboyant colours such as red.

The style of window and door handles: finishes

Just as windows and doors can exist in a very wide range of colours and finishes (especially if made of aluminium), handles also acquire a very different appearance depending on how they are finished. In addition to colour, the finishing gives the handle character: polished, chromium-plated, opaque, satin, raw effect. The finishing is what gives the handle its particular texture: the resulting tactile experience, which you will experience every day when opening and closing windows, is something to be assessed carefully.

Usually, the slim, essential aluminium handle is combined with polished or satin finishes, precisely to highlight its essentiality.

These handles lend themselves particularly well to modern, minimalist interiors. In an industrial style case, on the other hand, the finishing of the handle can be raw, thus recalling the old factories from which this style takes its inspiration. An opaque finishing, on the other hand, is more suitable for windows furnishing a classic-style home, as it gives a greater feeling of warmth.

There are also even more special finishes. For example, there is the galvanised finishing, which covers the brass handle with a thin metal layer with a very special appearance. Or, the antiqued finishing which, with its bronzed tones, matches muted colours in rustic environments.

How to choose window handles: practicality and functionality

Although the aesthetic value of a window handle is essential to make it pleasing to the eye and consistent with the rest of the house, the functional component of the window and door handle must not be overlooked. This is represented by its technical components, but also by its shape and material, which ensure high performance from the point of view of handling, maintenance and safety.

Functionality of window and door handles: ease of use

A handle must be beautiful to look at but, above all, easy to use and handle every day. Regardless of the preferred shape, therefore, it must first and foremost possess an ergonomic, secure and comfortable handgrip that allows us to open and close windows with ease. From a technical point of view, it is essential that the handles are fitted impeccably, so that they open/close smoothly and quickly.

In the field of handle manageability, a choice can also be made on the basis of the personal needs of those who will be living inside the house. In the presence of people with reduced ability to move their hands or the elderly, who may gradually lose strength and dexterity, it is important to pay extra attention to choosing the right handle, always listening to the suggestions of the chosen supplier. The ideal in this case is to choose a simple lever, neither too large nor too small and not too thin, that can be comfortably used by any hand.

Functionality of window and door handles: cleaning and maintenance

For a practical home, handles must meet precise requirements for ease of cleaning. In this case, it is the material from which the handle is made that makes the difference. Aluminium, for example, is by far the easiest material to clean: a cloth, possibly moistened with a little water, is enough to keep the handles clean and unchanged over time.

In the case of painted or specially finished handles, whatever material they are made of, remember not to use solvents or chemical cleaning agents or abrasive sponges. In order to make cleaning quick and easy, it would be better not to opt for very elaborate handles with fabric inserts, polishes and precious but delicate materials.

Finally, from the point of view of material, it is crucial to remember that some alloys, such as stainless steel, have a variable amount of nickel inside them; they are absolutely to be avoided if someone living in the house is allergic to this chemical element.

Functionality of window and door handles: security

A very important aspect to consider when choosing windows, and therefore handles, is their ability to resist break-ins by intruders. The extent to which this is required may vary according to personal circumstances, such as the location of one’s house in the city or in the country, or the height of the floor on which the flat is located; but, in general, security is something that should concern everyone.

From this point of view, the classic types of handles seen above can be fitted with accessories to ensure greater security.

  • Handles with keys. These are handles that are actually locks, which can be locked to provide the window with an additional level of security against burglary.
  • Handles with a button. A less invasive but equally effective solution than keyed handles, they feature a button that can be pressed (or a small lock that can be turned) to activate a protection system. It is as if they were ‘locked’, but with a more modern look.

Such solutions are, for example, indispensable for increasing the security of houses and flats on the ground floor. It should not be forgotten, however, that these safety devices can also be very useful in averting potential dangers if there are small children in the case.

An important thing to bear in mind, in the context of a modern and functional home, is that these handles can be combined with any home automation system to enable automatic locking in the event of a break-in attempt. All METRA Building products can be easily connected to your home automation system.

The best METRA Building aluminium window handles

When a customer enters a showroom and chooses the ideal window and door frame for their home, it is usually matched with a standard handle. This handle is chosen from a technical point of view, as it is perfectly suited to the structural requirements and opening/closing mechanisms of the window itself. But it is also an ideal choice in terms of practicality, aesthetics and design, as aluminium has extraordinary qualities from all points of view.

If the proposed handle does not meet the customer’s requirements, the customer is invited to examine and try out the different options to understand from the outset what kind of daily experience they will provide. The proposed solutions are always able to meet any requirements in terms of style and practicality.

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