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How to Change a Door Lock

Man with glasses unscrewing a deadbolt lock

Installing a new door lock helps refresh your home’s exterior and is an easy upgrade in home security. Read our guide to learn how to change a door lock in just one hour.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Measure for the Replacement

    Man measuring the width of a door lock with a tape measure

    Before removing or purchasing any door lock or knob, take measurements of the space where you plan to install the new doorknob and deadbolt. The following measurements should be taken:

    1. The diameter of the holes cut out of your door for the door lock
    2. The diameter of the hole under the plate and around the knob itself. This may require removing the existing lock set. Its typical diameter is 2 1/8 inches.
    3. The distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole, typically called the setback. Its typical diameter is 2 3/8 or 2 3/4 inches.

    In some cases, taking measurements may not be as smooth of a process.

    • When needing to create or enlarge holes, you can purchase a hole saw set that includes hole saws and a guide to help you.
    • Some older doors may not be thick enough for modern locksets, which will require you to add a custom cut plate or door reinforcer.

    Nowadays, locksets often allow you to change the handedness or adjust the latch to either distance, so having to choose a knob with the same setback may not be an issue. If you’re looking for even more of an upgrade, you can consider smart or electronic door locks for greater security.

  2. Step 2 Remove the Doorknob

    Hands removing an old door lock and knob

    Perform this step after purchasing a new set to avoid keeping the exterior door exposed and unlocked for too long.

    Start on the interior side of your door and remove the screws from the doorknob. Pull out the doorknobs on both sides.

  3. Step 3 Replace the Latch

    Woman drilling into the latch plate of a door

    Remove the latch plate by unscrewing the screws with a screwdriver and pull the old latch out. Insert the new bolt with the tapered side facing the direction the door will be pushed and fasten it with the screws provided.

    Finally, ensure the plate fits properly and is snug against the entire surface of the door.

  4. Step 4 Install the Doorknob

    Hands installing a new doorknob

    Start by locating the spindle – the long metal piece that sticks out of the exterior knob. This is what turns the knob and guides the springs in the latch to slide the bolt back and forth, allowing the door to open.

    Slide the spindle through the slot in the latch to install both doorknobs, then, align the two long screws from the inside knob into the cylinders on the exterior knob. Tighten the screws and move on to the strike plate.

    Remove the two screws holding the strike plate onto the door jamb and install the new plate. Open and close the door several times to ensure the latch aligns with the strike plate.

  5. Step 5 Replace the Deadbolt

    Hands removing a deadbolt lock from a door

    Remove the existing deadbolt the same way you did the doorknob. Remove the screws holding the deadbolt to the door on the interior side. Then, remove the screws on the edge of the door and pull out the bolt.

    Insert the new deadbolt into the opening in the edge of the door and fasten it to the door with screws. Place the exterior part of the lock into the door and ensure the long metal piece is inserted into the opening in the center of the hole.

    Some deadbolts come with an interior plate and a decorative outer plate. If this is the case, place the interior plate over the hole from the inside. Guide the screws through the holes on the exterior side of the lock and tighten them using a screwdriver. To finish, snap on the outer plate.

  6. Step 6 Test the New Lock

    Woman testing a new doorknob

    Test that the deadbolt and doorknob are working properly and smoothly, and check that the hole in the door jam is deep enough to accommodate the bolt. If not, remove the strike plate and chisel out more wood until its deep enough. Afterwards, reattach the strike plate.

    The doorknobs should feel tight and secure, while the latch should meet the hole in the plate.

    Now, you’ve learned how to change a door lock effectively and efficiently.

What You Need for This Project

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