How to Install or Replace a Front Door Handleset

Whether you're putting in a brand-new door or just replacing worn-out hardware, it's easy to install a new handle and lock on your front door.

front door green color steps house

Installing a front door handle and lockset is a quick way to add curb appeal to your home. Before you begin, make sure your door has standard preparation boreholes for a knob/lever and deadbolt combination.

This type of preparation is for a door with two sets of boreholes and cross bores, one on top of the other, 5-1/2 inches from center to center. Both boreholes are 2-1/8 inches in diameter, with the cross bores measuring 1 inch in diameter. The back set measures between 2-3/8 and 2-3/4 inches from the edge of the door to the center of the cross bore. The thickness of the door should be between 1-3/8 and 1-3/4 inches. Be aware of the dimensions of your new handle so that it fits properly on the door.

Use caution when using an electric drill to install any screws. It could easily strip the screw threads or damage the hardware. Do not tighten the screws too much; you can always go back later and tighten them.

Once you've measured and prepped, you're ready to install a new door handle and lock. Follow our step-by-step instructions to get started.

How to Install a Door Handle and Lock

Supplies Needed

  • Door knob/handle kit (we used the Addison handleset from Schlage)
  • Deadbolt kit (if not included)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife, if needed
  • 1-inch chisel, if needed
  • Power drill (or Philips screwdriver with a long shaft)
  • Countersink bit (if using a drill)
  • Flathead screwdriver, optional
  • Hammer
  • Block of wood

Step-by-Step Directions

Follow our instructions for installing a front door handle and lockset to get a fresh look you love and enhance your home's curb appeal.

attach latch plate to door edge

Step 1: Install the Latch

Determine whether you want to use a flat, rectangular faceplate or a round drive-in faceplate. (Many kits come with both options.) If you want to use a flat faceplate but do not have an indent on the edge of your door to fit it over the cross bore, trace the outline of the faceplate with a pencil and score the outline with a utility knife so that the wood doesn't splinter. Use a 1-inch chisel to chisel out a rectangle 1/8-inch deep (it must be flush with the door jamb), 1 inch wide, and 2-1/4 inches tall, centered around the cross bore. Once you have an indent on the edge of your door, slide the latch into the cross bore with the bevel facing the door jamb and secure it against the indent with two short screws.

If you prefer the smaller round drive-in faceplate, use a flathead screwdriver to remove the screws on the flat faceplate and support plate. Install the round drive-in faceplate over the latch and push down to secure. Slide the latch and drive-in faceplate into the cross bore with the bevel facing the door jam, and push in until tight. Use a hammer with a block of wood between it and the latch to gently pound it into place (until flush with the edge of the door) without damaging the hardware.

place door handle into door holes and secure

Step 2: Install the Outside Handle

If your new door handle attaches to the door at a point below the lower borehole (like ours), you may need to drill another hole to accommodate it. Line up the spindle on the back of the handle with the slot in the latch, sliding any mechanisms up or down as needed to fit the handle onto the door.

Step 3: Install the Inside Handle

Line up the inside handle or lever so that the screw holes align vertically with the threaded posts on the back of the outside handle. If your inside handle is a lever, make sure that the lever is pointing away from the door jamb. Secure with screws. If your outside handle is attached to the door by a lower spindle (like ours), attach a washer, screw, and cover to secure and finish the spindle on the inside of the door.

Step 4: Install the Deadbolt

Repeat the procedure above for creating a faceplate indent if your lock calls for one and your door does not already have one. Fit the latch bolt into the upper cross bore, making sure the top is facing up (there is usually an arrow on the latch bolt to indicate). Screw the faceplate in to secure. Install the deadbolt mechanisms on the inside and outside, making sure the keyed cylinder part is on the outside of the door. The inside thumb turn should point up when unlocked and toward the door jamb when locked.

securing strike plate to edge door jamb

Step 5: Install the Strike Plates

Align the strike plate for the handle against the door jamb and attach with two small screws. Make sure the bent lip of the strike plate is facing the direction in which the door opens. Align the strike plate for the deadbolt, pre-drill your holes, and attach the strike plate to the door jamb with two longer screws for extra reinforcement. Alternate between the two long screws as you drill them in so that the strike plate does not get pushed out of alignment.

Test the latch and the deadbolt to make sure both slide in and out smoothly but not loosely. If the bolt won't turn all the way, drill the bolt hole a little deeper until it does. Alternatively, you may need to adjust the position of the strike plate.

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