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Install a Lockset

Installing a lockset — door knobs or levers — is a great do-it-yourself project and a simple way to tailor the look of a door. We'll show you how to do it.

Tools & Materials


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Preparing for Installation

Measuring the Backset.

If you're installing a lockset in an existing door, take out the old lockset and measure the backset — the distance from the door edge to the center of the lockset hole. The measurement is usually 2-3/8 inches for interior doors and 2-3/4 inches for exterior doors. Refer to this when you buy your new lockset to make sure the hardware is compatible. (You can skip to Installing the Lockset, below.)

Watch This Video: Determine the Backset of Your Door

If you're installing in a new door, you'll have to cut the holes. The lockset instructions will specify the correct backset. 

Note that if you're installing hardware for an entry door, you can usually have multiple locks set — keyed — to work with the same key. Read Door Hardware 101: Types, Functions and Finishes to get information on available lockset features and styles.

Good to Know

Consider replacing a traditional knob with a lever. Levers allow easier access, whether you have diminished hand strength or your hands are simply too full to operate a knob.

Good to Know

Follow the lockset and drill guide manufacturers' instructions for installation and setup steps specific to your hardware.

Preparing a New Door for a Lockset

Door Lock Installation Kit.

A lockset typically includes a paper template to help you accurately drill the latch and lockset holes in a new door, but an optional door lock installation kit, also known as a drill guide (pictured at the right), can make the project easier. These instructions provide steps for using a drill guide.

Step 1

Measuring from the Top of The Door to the Latch Hole.

Measure the distance from the top of the old door to the center of the latch hole in the old door. Transfer that measurement to the new door.

Step 2

Remove the old door and set the new door on sawhorses.

Step 3

Setting the Drill Guide Backset.

Select the correct backset on the drill guide.

Step 4

Attaching the Drill Guide to the Door.

Align the guide on the door, centered on the mark you transferred for the latch hole. Secure the guide with the new latch plate screws.

Step 5

Drilling the Hole for the Lockset.

Use a 2-1/8-inch hole saw to drill the hole for the lockset on the face of the door. Cut only halfway through one side of the door. Flip the door and finish from the other side. This technique helps prevents splintering.

Step 6

Drilling the Hole for the Latch.

Drill the edge bore hole for the latch with a 1-inch hole saw. Remove the guide, but keep the screws to use when you install the latch.

Step 7

Cutting the Latch Face Plate Mortise.

Create a mortise for the latch faceplate. Some drill kits include a jig and router bit you can use with a drill to simplify this step. Attach the jig to the door and guide the router bit in the channels. Take off the jig and use a chisel to remove the excess material. Keep the beveled side of the blade down to remove only small amounts of material. The faceplate should rest flush with the door edge. If you have a squared faceplate, you may need to chisel out the corners.

If you don't have a faceplate jig, trace the new faceplate to outline the area you need to chisel out for the mortise.

Watch our DIY Basics video: How Do I Use a Chisel?

Step 8

Painting the New Door.

Paint the door if needed and hang it once the paint is dry. For instructions on installing a new door, see How to Install an Interior Door.

Installing the Lockset

Good to Know

A latch faceplate may be rounded or squared. If you're replacing a lockset, matching the old faceplate type makes installation easier. Some locksets come with multiple latch faceplates.

Step 1

Door Jamb Strike Plate.

Install the strike plate on the door jamb.

Step 2

New Latch Inserted in the Door.

Insert the latch in the door, making sure the beveled part faces the jamb.

Step 3

Tapping in the Latch.

If necessary, use a piece of wood and hammer to tap the latch into the mortise. Secure the latch with screws.

Step 4

Installing a Lever.

Insert the outside knob or lever into the appropriate hole in the latch. Align the holes on the inside knob or lever and secure with screws.

Step 5

Check to make sure the lockset works and make any necessary adjustments. Depending on your type of hardware, there may be additional steps required to configure the lockset.

Shop for Locksets.