Changing your door’s hardware may seem completely overwhelming to a novice, or you may think it is a piece of cake. The truth is it can actually be a very simple task that can be done DIY by most homeowners with just a little guidance. However, without a few important considerations and preparations, it can easily turn into a beast of a project that can result in hours of frustration.
This comprehensive overview will walk you through everything from hardware choices to the final install.
Types of Door Handles and Locks
A quick walk through the door aisle at Home Depot will show you how vast your selection is. Choosing the wrong door hardware for your application is one of the most common reasons the project can turn into a nightmare.
- Passage: This type of handle is for a door that will never be locked. Usually used on bedrooms, offices, pantries, closets or doors that lead to hallways.
- Privacy: These are usually for rooms you may want to lock but need to ensure you don’t lock yourself out of. Usually those with a turnable knob or a button locking system, where you can unlock it from the outside with a special tool. Commonly used in rooms you may not want people entering at times, but it isn’t a highly secure room day to day, such as a bedroom or bathroom.
- Dummy handles: These decorative handles are non-functioning. They do not turn or lock. Usually they are used where a door does not need to be latched, like some closets with a magnet. They are also used on French doors for aesthetic reasons.
- Standard keyed knobs: This type of knob usually requires either a key on one or both sides of the door to unlock it. It is generally accompanied by a deadbolt for an additional level of security. These door knobs are usually not very decorative so they are used on secondary doors, back doors or garages.
- Deadbolts: These are separate from the door knob or handle. They are keyed on one side generally, but can be keyed on both. They are the most common and trusted way of keeping a door secure. These can be used on their own or along with any other type of door handle. Generally, they are used on exterior doors or rooms that need to be secured from others.
- Entrance sets: These are more often decorative exterior handles, not knobs, with a deadbolt to accompany it. The door handle sometimes has a lock on it for additional security. They are usually ordered as a set that matches the door’s hardware (hinges, door knockers, etc.)
- Electronic keyless sets: These are locks that require no physical key for those who prefer a code to be used on a keypad or touch pad on the door handle itself. They can be a bit pricier as they are electronic locks, but are still affordable and increasingly popular. Some even have capability to be set via mobile phone or computer, and also have a keyed entry.
Not so obvious considerations:
Often times when ordering standard door knobs, the direction the door opens is not a factor. The door knob can be installed any way you prefer: right, left, front or back. When ordering a lever handle, you need to visualize the set up you have in mind before choosing, especially if the lever handle has a lock on it. You need to be sure which side you want the lock to be on before you order the hardware.
Thickness of your door
For most modern homes this isn’t a problem as doors have become pretty standard sized, but older homes differ. 1 3/8-1 ¾ inches thick is the standard modern door.
This is how far horizontally your door handle will be installed. 2 3/8 to 2 ¾ is the standard.
The size of the hole that was predrilled into your door for the handle and cylinder itself to sit in is the bore size. 2 and 1/8” bore size is a pretty much a universally standard size so it would be rare to find one that differs from the norm. If the size is too small you can have a professional bore it to the correct size, and it if is over you will have to order a specialty knob.
When ordering multiple keyed locks of any sort you have to think about if you want the same key to open. For example, you can have the same key open the deadbolt and the knob/handle or you can have two different keys for added security.
Most sets you will find use the same key to open both locks if they are in a set. Today for just a few bucks extra, you can choose hardware that gives you the option to rekey the lock to fit an existing key, for example if you want your front and back door to be the same key.
Changing the Door’s Hardware
This is a simple process as the door can stay on its hinges and all you need is a screwdriver. It is recommended that you do not use a drill as you can over tighten the screws. Simply remove the two screws on the backside of the door handle and then pull the door handles from both sides, they will slide out in two parts.
Then on the edge of the door there will be two more screws holding in the latch. Remove them it will slide out as well. Now replace the latch, screw it in snugly and ensure it is facing the correct direction, then move to the door handle. Make sure the lock, if there is one, is located on the correct side of the door. Snug the screws (a little more than finger tight where you don’t have to use a lot of force with the screwdriver) and test the handle.
This is almost identical to the door handle. Remove the two screws, pull both sides off then remove the interior bolt from the side of the door. Reinstall as you removed the three pieces and you are all set. Just remember to have the key slot on the correct side.
These are very simple as well, but they require you to remove the door from the wall. Standard hinges require you to pop the pin out pf each one, then you can separate the door from the wall. Then simply remove the three screws on each hinge, the three on the door and the three on the wall.
Replace with the new hardware and put the new pin back in and the door should swing as it is intended. If it is a little tight, or squeaks there are two remedies. Use some WD-40 and oil the hinges is one of the two solutions. The other is to try loosening some of the screws slightly or tighten them. A little fine tuning, if any, and the door will be as good as new.
Tal Hassid, founder of ETO Doors, is a home décor and door expert in the industry for 15 years. ETO Doors, one of the largest online marketplaces for doors, carries solid wood and fiberglass doors including Interior, Exterior, and French doors.