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In many instances the hardest part of replacing a door knocker is finding a suitable replacement. Matching the finish or style is not so difficult as is matching the mounting methods. There are two common methods of installing a door knocker. Surface mounting and through the door mounting. Both methods use common household tools. Other than that they are distinctly different. First is the surface mount method. This option uses wood screws that pass through the door knocker and into the door. This is the easiest method for replacement. The screws do not have to line up perfectly with the existing holes in the door.
This will include determining the center to center distance (space between the holes) and selecting a knocker with this same measurement. By doing this there will not be a need to re-drill the door for a new knocker. Choosing a knocker is a very personal experience and there is no right or wrong choices. Pay attention to size and choose a knocker that will look appropriate on your door. If you are unsure it is a great idea to cut out a piece of paper that is the same height and width of the knocker you are thinking of using and tape it against the door (actual shape does not need to be cut out).
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The first known knockers were made out of wrought iron. These simple ornaments consisted of a thick ring and a plate which were used in the 17th and 18th centuries throughout North America and Europe. Human faces (not ghastly like Jacob Marley) an animal faces were popular designs that are still used today. The craftsmanship on some of these knockers was elaborate enough to compare to the most-polished sculpture. Basically the purpose is to save the knuckles of visitors. Although they mainly serve as decoration they are still made of brass pewter iron or stainless steel to be durable enough to withstand outdoor elements. Plus they must be heavy enough to make a sound when they are tapped against a door. Cast iron styles have been favorites for a long time for their simplicity and sturdiness. They are also good for complimenting a Western theme. Pewter is another popular material.