One of the most regular questions in today's Q&A was "what is the best finish of brass for external use on door handles?"

The answer depends on more than just material properties. Briefly, you should consider the following:

Laquered brass door handles. This was originally brought in to preserve brass door handles on the shelf (so as not to sell people green door handles!) and the intention was always to remove it before fitting. These days people don't do this and consequently this allows some manufacturers to use brass of such poor quality under the laquer that there is no point. It is accepted that one should fit the laquered product. The range is huge but DO accept that once your rings or keys scratch the laquer the brass underneath will tarnish and you will need to strip the laquer to be able to do anything about it. Even then, if it is not top quality brass you may be better just buying new.

PVD or Stainless brass door handles. Specially treated to provide a very hard surface, this brass finish hardware can often carry a 25 year guaranteed finish. Sometimes a subtly different colour to normal brass but can still look good and is all but maintainance free. The problem is that these is a very limited range, so style wise you are on Hobson's choice.

Un-laquered brass door handles. Available in satin brass or polished brass. Provided you are prepared to get the Brasso out every now and then (polished brass) or give your handles a wipe down this is the best choice. The brass used is usually of top quality and exudes a warmth that no PVD or laquered brass can match. The range is very large and all the top manufacturers like Croft, Frank Allart, Brassart and Samuel Heath offer this finish. Because of the shelf life this range is not usually stocked and can take several weeks to make from scratch but at least you know you have door knobs straight off the polisher's knee! You can of course just let the door handles patinate naturally and see what you think. You can always restore them if you don't like the result with a bit of elbow grease!

If you live by the sea, a salty road or a chemical plant etc, expect anything to melt in five minutes (even stainless steel!) so take the above info and triple up your cleaning and polishing regime to allow it half a chance.

Keep the questions coming!