Door Handle Install
Front Door Hardware Installation - How To Install Door Handles And Locks
Whether you’re buying a new home or making some changes to your current one, there are potentially a lot of projects that require your attention (and budget). While some projects definitely need professional help (ie. plumbing, electric) there are so many upgrades that you can tackle on your own.
What is one of the easiest home projects? Installing the hardware on your front door.
To prove just how simple it is. We’re covering everything you need to know about front door hardware installation below.
What you need to know
Your front door is the first thing people see when they enter your home. It’s only natural that installing new handles and locks on your front door feels daunting. This is true regardless if you’re adding hardware to your newly installed front door or just replacing the hardware you already have.
Fortunately, installing door handles and locks is one of the easiest projects you can tackle at home. You don’t need many tools or any sort of fancy knowledge to get through the install.
To help you feel confident in the installation process, here are some key terms you may want to familiarize yourself with:
Deadbolt – This refers to the locking mechanism where you insert your key. Most front door hardware sets include a deadbolt. However, they are sometimes interchangeable between different sets.
Handle – This is the piece you use to open the door after it’s been unlocked. It can be in the shape of a handle, a lever, or even a door knob.
Latch – The latch is a mechanism that keeps your door closed. In a front door, this latch can be locked.
Strike plate – This is the piece of metal on your door frame that goes around the latch hole. You likely already have a strike plate on your door frame, so you can base your measurements off of this. If you don’t, you’ll need to install one first.
When to change your entry door hardware
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already thought about making some changes to your front door. There are many reasons for wanting (or needing) to change your front door hardware. Here are some of the top reasons why homeowners find yourselves swapping out your locks and handles.
You’re installing a new door – If you’ve recently purchased a brand new door, you’ll need to pick out some shiny new hardware to match. While you theoretically might be able to reuse something you already have (depending on the sizing), it’s best to choose something new to highlight the features on your new door.
You recently moved – One of the first things you should do upon moving is swap out the locks for your door. You can’t be sure who else might have keys to your new home.
You want to upgrade your entryway – Add some personality to your entryway. Choosing new hardware is a great way to make an older door look new again. Not only is it easy to do, but it’s also extremely budget friendly.
Choosing a new or replacement lock and handle
Choosing hardware for a front door is relatively straightforward. However, there are a few things you need to consider. Otherwise, you might fall in love with hardware that just won’t work with your door.
First and foremost – before making any lockset purchase, you need to get your measurements right. Front door locks aren’t just for aesthetics but they also help keep your home safe. It’s important to get a snug fit. If your lock and handle don’t fit right, you may run into installation issues or even future security issues.
Here are some things you should consider when choosing your new lock.
Door depth or thickness
Most standard entry doors are 1 ¾ - 1 3/8 inches thick. Typical locks and handles are designed to accommodate this size.
Particularly with older homes, you may need to double-check the thickness of your door. If your door’s thickness falls far outside the standard, you may need custom plates to help the hardware fit.
Before choosing your hardware, measure the diameter of the lock holes on your door. This way, you’re picking locks that fit.
You typically can’t go smaller (unless you want a gaping hole), but you can always cut a larger hole if needed. You can do this after you’ve purchased your hardware and have the required dimensions.
If you have a brand new door, your door likely doesn’t have a hole. Or it may have a small hole already. You can cut a hole to fit the size of your new hardware.
Also keep in mind if your lock and handle are separate or attached, as this may require more holes.
Set back/ back-set
The back-set is the distance between the edge of the door and where you want the center of your lock. If you have an existing door, you can get this measurement by measuring from the center of the hole.
Many lock sets have adjustable back-sets but make sure to measure before you purchase your new lock.
If you have multiple entryways in your home, you may want to have the key match your other locks. This way, you can get your new lock keyed to an existing key, to avoid having a keychain full of different keys.
Typically, using the same brand is one of the easiest ways to ensure the key type is the same.
Shape and style
There are so many choices for your front door locks. Pick something that fits the style of your home (inside and out) and the style of your door. You may also want to consider matching your hardware to other doors in your home.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the style of your hardware.
Plate shape – depending on the look of your home’s exterior, you may want rounded or squared plates. Square plates and handles are more modern while softer shapes have a more classic look.
Handle type – you can choose anything from knobs and levers, to handles. Choose something that fits the style of your home.
Attachment type – some locks will be combined with the knob or lever. Others are separate, meaning the handle and deadbolt use separate holes. If your door already has separate pieces, you’ll likely want to continue with that option to avoid having to patch existing holes.
If you have an HOA, make sure you’re familiar with any guidelines or requirements that your HOA has before choosing your door handles and locks.
Entryway hardware is available in several colors and finishes. Chrome is a classic finish, but gold and black hardware is becoming an increasingly popular choice.
You don’t have to match the knobs on your interior doors but you may want to coordinate with any other hardware on your front door. This includes things like hinges, door knockers, window trims, or even your mailbox – if it’s near your front door.
You should also consider the color of your entry door. Some homeowners love the monochrome look, while others love to go bold! Your front door is the entrance to your home, so have fun with it. This is an easy way to add a touch of your personal style to your house.
Another popular choice these days are smart locks. There are several smart options for your front door. Some smart locks have pin pads in addition to the standard key and deadbolt. Others offer WiFi connectivity so the lock can be operated and monitored from afar. Smart locks are typically battery or electric operated.
Depending on how the lock is powered, these can be slightly trickier to install. Make sure to review the installation guide to see if this is something that can be done yourself or if it requires an electrician.
Installing front door hardware is relatively simple. If you’re just replacing a lock, you should have most of the tools needed. If you’re cutting a hole in a new door, you may need a few other things.
Here are the basic items you’ll need:
- Front door hardware kit (including deadbolt, plates, key, and handle)
- Measuring tape
If you need to cut a hole in a new door or change the size of the holes in your current door – you’ll need the following:
- Hole saw
- Workhorse (or surface to complete your cuts)
How to install door handles and locks
Once you’ve chosen your new hardware, it’s time to install it. Depending on if you have a new or existing door, you’ll need to either remove the old lock or prep your door for the new lock.
We’ve put together step-by-step instructions for every scenario.
Instructions for removing old hardware
- Remove the screws holding your current lock in place. You’ll typically find the screws on the side inside your home.
- Pull the existing lock and handles from both sides, they should easily come apart. (Give it a little wiggle if the hardware is stuck.
- If you are making changes to the size of your holes, remove the latch plate on the side of the door. You can do this by unscrewing the screws holding it in place.
- Pull the latch out of the door.
- If your new handle and lock set does not include a new latch, put the current one in a safe place, you’ll need this again!
Instructions for preparing a new door for hardware
- If your door is already installed in the frame, take it off its hinges.
- Carefully measure the distance from the top of the door to where the latch hole and strike plate are located in the door frame. (If you have your old door, you can take the measurements from there.)
- Before installing your front door, use a hole saw to cut a hole for a new lock. Use the diameters that are specified in your new hardware set. Many hardware sets will also include a guide to help make it easy to determine where to place your cuts.
- To avoid damaging your door, cut halfway on one side, then flip the door to complete the hole.
- Drill a hole for the latch. Most latches only need a 1-inch hole.
- Put the door back on its hinges before continuing with installing the hardware.
Instructions for installing new hardware
- If you removed the latch (or haven’t installed it yet), insert it on the side of the door. Gently hammer the latch in, if the fit is tight.
- Screw the latch plate into the side of the door.
- Take the outside handle or lock and carefully fit it through the holes in the latch.
- Repeat for the inside hardware.
- Secure the two locks/handles with the latch using the supplied screws.
- Drill any additional holes to screw in any additional handles or plates.
- Test the locks and handles with the key. The handles or knobs should turn with ease and your key should secure the latch. Adjust if necessary.
Upgrade your front door hardware today!
Your front door is the first impression of your home for any guests. While changing your door hardware feels minor, it can completely change the look of your home’s exterior. It's a budget-friendly upgrade that is easy for you to tackle yourself.
On the hunt for new hardware for your front door? We have a wide selection of handles and locksets – ready for you to install!
If you’re ready for an even bigger upgrade, check out our collection of brand new front doors.