Maybe you’re like me. I walk out of a store with my arms full of bags — I hate those squeaky carts — and I’m faced with the door. It’s not automatic, so I’m on my own. Do I panic? Not a bit. I just push it open with my foot…and I don’t even worry about damaging the door. Not because I’m a heartless beast, but because the building designer has ingeniously installed a kick plate.
You may not even have noticed this unsung hero. Kick plates are so common, they’re virtually inconspicuous in commercial buildings. But homeowners, too, can benefit from the protective properties of kick plates to keep scuffs, scratches and scrapes from marring their doors.
The purpose of a kick plate is pretty straightforward: It covers the bottom of a door to guard against damage. You’re more likely to see them in business structures than homes, but think about it: How many times do you arrive at your front door with your arms full of groceries, books, luggage, small animals, small children or sacks of gold? If you manage to unlock the door without losing your load, you have to push against the door to open it.
This technique is highly personalized: A bump with a hip, lean-in with the shoulder or kick with the shoe. Because of footwear, the last approach does the most harm to the door over time. You can mark up the door, ding it or perhaps, if you’re a steel-toed boots fan, take a few chips out of it. A kick plate keeps all that from happening. And though it’s called a “kick” plate, doors need protection from other things that go bump in the night — and day — such as strollers, animals and toys.
Kick plates aren’t limited to front doors. Any door that swings into a room can benefit. Pay attention when you’re out and about, and you’ll notice lots of plates. Here’s a start: Check restaurant kitchen doors, restroom doors and office doors. Your next assignment: As you walk through your home, see how many times you open a door without using your hands. You may be surprised…
Kick plates are rectangles between 10 and 16 inches high. The larger ones are often used when wheelchair traffic is likely. To make sure the door still opens properly, the length of a kick plate is two inches narrower than the width of the door. That means no kicking along the edge of the door or near the door jam!
Traditionally, kick plates are metal: stainless steel, aluminum or brass. The material often matches the door’s hardware. Nowadays, acrylic and vinyl are also options and may be more attractive for homes. Pick your favorite color or even go clear and colorless. See-through kick plates are all the rage.
You can even find manufacturers who custom-build kick plates to customers’ specifications. Got a non-standard sized door? Want an unusual hue to match your décor? No worries. You won’t be denied the perfect kick plate if it’s your heart’s desire…or even just a good idea for your house.
Kick plates aren’t rare, and they seldom hide. Large home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, carry them. Or you can order a kick plate from Amazon while you’re stocking up on glow-in-the dark toilet paper, spandex bodysuits or bacon bandages.
Online specialty stores also offer wide varieties. With these choices, you should be able to find the perfect plate. If not, the internet also brings you manufacturers who are more than willing to make your custom kick plate dreams come true.
It’s really no big deal to attach a kick plate. But note: You’ll do a better job if you take down the door. Seriously. Lay it on sawhorses or on the floor. The work will go faster, and it’ll be easier to make sure the plate is straight. Don’t be lazy.
To start, you need to center the kick plate on the door. Leave one uncovered inch on each side. Don’t eyeball it — use a measuring tape to make sure the plate is in position. Expend a little time and effort to get the kick plate in the right place. These babies last, so you’ll be looking at it for a long time.
Screws and adhesive are the most common ways to mount kick plates. Sheet metal screws or an industrial adhesive ensure a secure attachment. However, if you’re so inclined, it’s possible to find a magnetic kick plate for a metal door.
A kick plate won’t solve all your problems. It’ll just make your door look nicer. You won’t frown each time you smack it open with your foot. Maybe you’ll smile instead — and who couldn’t use a few more smiles?