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doorkob on white, beatup door

Angi How To Change a Doorknob

Date Published: June 17, 2016

Time: 15 Minutes

Homeowners change doorknobs and locks for many reasons. Maybe they just moved in and aren’t sure who has a key. Maybe they want to enhance the home’s style by changing door hardware. Either way, the process is fairly simple for standard doors.

With older doors, especially those with a keyhole you can see through, the process becomes a little bit more complex. Homeowners with these doors may have to hire a locksmith and possibly replace the door if it costs less.

Before you begin, it’s important to buy the correct doorknob. If it will operate an exterior door, make sure it’s a secure entry lock. Also, look at the latch on the door’s side edge. Are the edges of the plate that secures it to the door rounded, square or just a small ring without any screw holes? You’ll want your new latch to match or else you will have to adjust the hole during installation.

Photos by James Figy

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Tools & Materials Needed 
New doorknob set
Cordless drill (if you don’t have one, a screwdriver will work)
Hammer, chisel and pencil (if the door or jamb requires adjustment)
changing a doorknob
1Remove old doorknob and hardware

Remove the two screws from the door handle with your screwdriver. Avoid using your drill at first to prevent stripping out the screws. If the screws turn easily, then use the drill to speed things up. Next, unscrew the strike assembly from the front edge of the door and pull it out. Then remove the strike plate from the doorjamb.


If the screws are stripped out, find a thick rubber band, such as the kind that binds together stalks of broccoli. Wedge the rubber band between the screw head and your screwdriver and twist.

changing a doorknob
2Insert the strike assembly

Make sure the hardware on the new latch matches the old one. If so, push the new strike into the hole on the front edge of the door. If not, see if matching hardware came with the set or adjust the hole using your chisel. To chisel a larger hole, push the latch assembly in and draw a line around it so you know where to remove the extra wood. Screw it into the door.


Most doorknobs sit 2 3/8 or 2 3/4 inches from the edge of the door to the center of the hole. A typical latch will adjust to these measurements.

installing a door lock
3Secure the doorknob

Push the outside handle in first, and then add the inside handle. Make sure the holes are lined up. Start turning the two long screws by hand, and once they’re started, use the screwdriver or the drill. Avoid over-tightening the screws, as it will prevent the handle from working correctly. But make sure the handle fits snug and doesn’t jiggle.

installing a door's strike plate
4Install the strike plate

Screw the strike plate to the doorjamb. Adjust the corners around the plate with your chisel and hammer, if necessary.

locking doorknob
5Check and adjust the new door lock

Close and open the door a few times to ensure it latches and locks. If the handle works but the door doesn’t latch, you may have to adjust the strike plate up or down, forward or back, until it closes properly.