How to Change a Doorknob Quickly for an Updated Look

Replacing a doorknob is an easy do-it-yourself project. Follow these steps for updating the doorknobs in your home.

How to Replace a Doorknob

BHG / Michela Buttignol

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Get Started

Finished dark knob

New doorknobs will update the look of your home's doors. Before you shop for a new knob, grab a screwdriver and remove the knob you want to replace (learn how in the following slides). Removing the knob before you shop will give you a sense of what type of replacement you'll need. You might even want to take the old knob with you for comparison.

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How to Remove a Doorknob

Hand with screwdriver removing brass knob

To remove a doorknob, the only tool you'll need is a Phillips-head screwdriver (the one with four ridges that come to a point like a pyramid). Start by removing the two screws that hold the knob in place on one side of the door. For some knobs, you'll need to remove screws from the other side as well..

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Pull the Knobs Apart

Hands pulling brass knob apart

Both knobs should come off along with the plate that covers the hole in the door. A square steel peg that connects the two knobs and slides into a square hole in the latch will most often come out with the knobs.

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Pull Out the Latch

Prying the latch out; Pulling the latch out (end in hole); Pulling latch away from door edge

If the latch stays in, simply slide it out. Some latches will slide out the edge of the door with just a little bit of persuasion. With most you'll have to remove the two screws that attach to the edge of the door.

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Take Off the Strike Plate

Unscrewing strike plate

Remove the two screws that hold the strike plate to the doorframe.

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Bring Out the Tape Measure

Tape measure at hole

Measure the distance from the center of the big hole in the surface of the door to the edge of the door. This distance, known as the backset, typically equals 2-3/8 inches or 2-3/4 inches. Many replacement doorknobs will work with either backset, but be sure your new knob is designed to work with your measurement.

Tip: If you're purchasing a knob with a lock, you will want to know which side of the door the locking mechanism is on before you buy a new knob. Doorknobs are not reversible. If you want the lock on the inside of a room, you'll need to note whether it's to the left or right when the latch is facing you.

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Installation Step One

Screwdriver tip at latch cover; Two hands holding latch; Two hands replacing latch cover

Start the installation by determining the style of latch plate you need. Depending on the mortise (the cut-out impression in which the latch sits) on your door, you might have to swap out the latch's standard rectangular plate for a round one included in the package. If needed, pry off the standard one with a straight-bladed screwdriver (see left and middle photos). Then, place the new round plate on the latch (right).

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Insert the New Latch

Inserting latch into hole

Slide the latch into the edge of the door. If it has a rectangular plate, you'll need to attach it with the two provided screws.

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Time for the New Knob

Two hands holding dark knob outside of door; Two hands, back part of dark knob in door

One half of your new doorknob will have the square steel peg. Insert that half into the door first, placing the square peg through the latch mechanism.

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Line Up and Push

Two hand fitting dark knob into door, Two hands, dark knob in place

Align the other half of the doorknob with the square pin and the screw holes.

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Attach the Knob

Screwdriver attaching dark knob

Attach the new knob with the two screws included in the set. If the new doorknob doesn't cover the screw holes, mortises, or any impressions left by the old hardware, it's time to break out the wood putty. First, sand down any surface imperfections and fill the screw holes and excess mortise areas with a hardening-type wood putty. You can try touching up the affected areas with stain, clear finish, or paint—whatever the door and frame require—but if that doesn't blend in with the color, you'll need to refinish or repaint the entire door or frame.

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Attach the New Plate

Screwdriver attaching dark strike plate

Attach the new strike plate to the doorframe with the two screws provided. If you need to enlarge the mortise for the latch plate or the strike plate, make sure you have a sharp chisel and fresh blade for your box cutter. To enlarge the mortise, first define its outer edges with a box cutter. Then position the chisel to remove the excess material.

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Finished Product

Finished dark knob

You now have a new doorknob. And now that you know how quick and easy a doorknob change can be, updating all the ugly and/or broken knobs in your home will be a cinch.

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