What's the Difference Between Sprung and Unsprung Door Knobs?

When it comes to home improvement and interior design, small details can make a big difference in a room. One such detail that can get overlooked but plays a big role in the functionality of a door and the style of a room are a door’s mortice knobs.

The most common two options of door knob mechanism type are unsprung and sprung. The main difference between them is that a sprung knob has a spring mechanism to return the knob to its original position when it's turned, and an unsprung knob doesn’t.

Door handles - brass - no lock

In this article, we'll explore the features, differences, and some of the pros and cons of each knob type, to help inform buying decisions.

Let's take a closer look.


As the name suggests, an unsprung knob has no spring in its mechanism, and they are usually more straightforward in design compared to sprung knobs.

When you turn a knob, it directly operates the latch or bolt mechanism. An unsprung knob will generally feel heavier and require more force to operate since there is no spring to assist the turning motion.

Some people prefer the solid and substantial feel of an unsprung option, while others may find them less convenient, especially in higher-traffic rooms.

Installing an unsprung knob is relatively easy due to their simpler design. They are also easier to maintain since there are fewer moving parts to worry about.

Door handle living room - mortice knob antique brass finish

Unsprung Knob - Pros & Cons


Sturdy and durable construction. The latch mechanism is simpler, with heavier, more solid operation, which some people may prefer — although for some this could be a con.

More straightforward installation and maintenance. Fewer moving components make unsprung knob installation easier compared to sprung, with already installed latches more likely to be compatible.

Often more affordable compared to sprung. If budget is tight, unsprung may be a better option, especially if you have a project that requires many knobs to be installed.


Antique brass knob in long backplate


May require more effort to operate. This is especially true for young children or the very elderly. If you have an unsprung doorknob or a particularly heavy door, consider buying a heavy sprung latch to counteract the force placed on it.

Can cause excessive wear over time. This is where the handle does not return precisely to its original position after use due to wear. As the wear continues, more force will need to be put on the handle and it may give out in time, potentially leaving you stuck on the wrong side of the door.

Less forgiving on a misaligned or poorly fitted doors. Can be more difficult to use as the latch will not return to its optimum position.

Mortice door knob and lock - art deco style


Sprung knobs, unlike their unsprung counterparts, include a built-in spring cassette. This cassette is fixed to the backplate, the back of the doorknob, allowing it to return to its original position. Sprung action provides smoother operation which requires less effort to use.

The cassette makes sprung knobs easier to turn and more user-friendly, especially for those with limited hand strength or mobility issues.

Chrome knob on chrome rose - living room

The sprung action helps absorb some of the impact when the door is closed too, which can protect latches and reduce wear on both the latch and the frame.

You will find that a sprung doorknob will have a deeper backplate than an unsprung doorknob. This is to accommodate the cassette. It’s worth noting the depth of the backplate before you buy to ensure the knob meets your installation requirements.

Front door with mortice door knob and lock

Sprung - Pros & Cons


Easier operation and user-friendly. A sprung knob requires less effort to use making them suitable for all ages.

Reduced wear and tear on the latch and door frame. An obvious benefit here is the longevity of the knob and door operation.

More forgiving on misaligned doors. Sprung latches will return to their ideal position, reducing the effort required to use the door.

Satin nickel - Oval unsprung door knob in brushed satin nickel finish


Slightly more complex construction. Will potentially make them more expensive. This could be a consideration if you have a tight budget or if you need to install many doors in a project.

Likely to require periodic maintenance. This will ensure good long term functionality. The more complex design has more moving parts so will inevitably need a little TLC once in a while to continue to work correctly.

Mortice door knob selection - rustic style

Which One Do You Need?

Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but it may come down to the finer details of your door and your home.

Things to consider are:


Think about who will be using the door. If it's frequently accessed by young children or the very elderly, a sprung mortice door knob might be more appropriate due to its ease of use.

Door type

Consider the door type and material. A heavier door might benefit from an unsprung knob with a heavy sprung latch, which can better handle additional weight.


Unsprung door knobs are generally more budget-friendly, but the price difference might not be that significant in some cases.

Door handle knob - crystal style

Other Considerations

For doors with lower-quality or old latches, it would be wise to choose a sprung doorknob to prevent them from loosening further. A sprung doorknob is likely to last longer as less force is placed on a door's latch.

If a door has a higher quality latch, that doesn't need to return the handle to its original position, you could opt for an unsprung doorknob.

Front door with mortice door knob with lock

Final Thoughts

So, we can see there are many benefits for both sprung doorknobs and unsprung doorknobs, each having its own appeal, depending on required needs. Both have benefits that will suit a variety of door style, room style, the style of your property, and of course your own personal style.

Bear in mind too, that unsprung doorknobs and unsprung handles can easily be replaced with sprung. For more information about how to change door knobs and handles, follow this easy guide.

If you're looking for door knobs for your home or for commercial applications, get inspired with the huge range of knobs and door handles from Hiatt Hardware.