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Especially if you are purchasing a gift. You may not know exactly what you want. The decor of the home should be considered. Door knockers come in many styles and finishes. You would not place an ultra modern style door knocker on a colonial style home. Many traditional styles do not fit in well with modern houses. If your purchase is for a wedding gift or housewarming gift and you may not know where the door knocker will wind up. In this case there are many styles available that are universal. If not certain of the final location it is best to stay simple. Do not get to fancy. A simple style goes with most decors.
It can be difficult to find a new door knocker with the same BC dimension. Especially if the original one has been there for many years. There is no standard for the BC dimension. The BC for the most part is determined by the design of the knocker. The mounting lugs used to attach the hardware are usually placed at a thicker portion of the casting. This is to give them more strength. Sometimes you have to settle for a replacement that is close. If the two BCs are within 1/4 or 3/8 inch of each other you can usually enlarge the holes in the door a bit to make the fit. If you are lucky the existing mounting hardware will cover the enlarged holes.
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Choosing a knocker is typically a decision made on personal preference as-well as the design of the door itself and the exterior of the home; however you should always bear in mind the purpose of the door knocker. Along with other items of furniture for the home the main concept is allowing people outside a house to alert those inside of their presence while providing an attractive addition. The structure of the device consists of a part fixed to the door and an additional part attached by a hinge that may be lifted and used to strike a plate fitted to the door or the door itself- thus making a noise and alerting the occupants within. Although knockers can simply consist of a fitting with a metal ring more often than not they are ornate.