How to Install a Doorknob

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Estimated Time: 
15 minutes
Get a handle on changing out that tarnished and tired hardware

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We all know the power of first impressions. When it comes to the outside of our houses, we spend a lot of time on boosting curb appeal. But when it comes to the inside of your home it's the doorway that can set the tone for the room beyond. And what sets the tone for the door itself? The doorknob. Take a look at yours: are they setting the impression you're after? If you're thinking it's time for a change, you're in luck. Doorknobs are one of the easiest upgrades you can make on your own. Although it is a simple detail, changing your door handles is a great way to update an older house and add value to your home.

Plus, shopping around for them can be fun. Doorknobs and door handles today come in a wide range of colors and styles from ornate to Victorian to modern, in gold, brass, brushed nickel, polished chrome, ceramic, and even glass. Peruse you local hardware center to get started. If you're looking for something antique, eBay has a good selection. Other Web sites, such as or Doorknob Discount Center feature a broad variety of different styles and pricing, sometimes with free shipping. You can expect to spend anywhere from $20 to more than $200 on a doorknob set.

Some questions to ask when shopping around:
Would you prefer a round shaped knob, or a lever-type handle?
Do you need to match it with the rest of the knobs in your home, or are you looking for decorative door handle sets to add some style?
What color are you looking for? Gold, brass, chrome, brushed nickel, or glass?
Should the doorknob have an internal locking mechanism (think bathrooms), an external lock (think door to the outside), or no lock at all?

Most doorknobs are made to work with standard-sized holes, so finding a perfect fit shouldn't be a problem. (Deciding between hundreds of different styles will probably be the hardest part!) If you aren't sure whether or not your doorknob is standard, remove it and take it to the store. This will greatly reduce your chances of having to make any returns.

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Project Steps

So, if you have your tools in hand, let's get to work. Out With the Old!

The most obvious thing you'll need to do is to remove your existing doorknob and all its hardware. Now don't stress out, this is a fairly simple procedure, which should take around 5-15 minutes.

Step 1


door knob s1Obviously, you'll want to remove your existing doorknob and all its hardware first. This should take about 5-15 minutes.


The trim (a.k.a rose cover) of the doorknob is the ring shaped piece of metal behind the door handle up against the door. You'll want to remove the trim on both sides of the door. There are usually two tiny screws which secure this ring in place (they are embedded in the side of the trim).

You'll find that some of the newer models of doorknobs and interior doors won't contain screws at all. When this is true you will need to pry it off with a flathead screwdriver or a small pry tool. If this is true for your door, make sure to slide the flathead screwdriver well underneath the ring, to guarantee not damaging the wood of the door while prying it off.

Step 2

Once the trim has been removed, you'll notice two screws holding what's left of the doorknob in place. Remove them.

Step 3


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You should now be able to pull the knobs apart and out of the door completely. Grab both sides of the doorknob and pull it out of the door.

Step 4

Once the doorknob is out, you'll note two screws holding the dead latch in place. It's simple to take this out. Remove both screws and pull the unit out.

Step 5


door knob s5If you'd like to replace the strike plate (the small metal plate that catches the bolt or lock in the door frame), you can remove it from the frame of the door now. The way to do this is by removing the two screws and pulling it out. If you are replacing an old doorknob with a new one of a different type of metal, you may want to do it for a more professional look.

Step 6


door knob s6Now it's time to install the new doorknob. Start by first inserting the new bolt. Place it in its hole, screw it into place. Do this with the latch for the door knob as well.

Step 7


door knob s7On one side of the door, place a trim flush against the door surrounding the hole where the door knob will go. Place the door knob in its hole. Now do the same process on the other side. The only difference is when you place the second door knob in its hole you need to check to make sure the two doorknobs align properly and that the holes for those two long screws line up so that they can hold them together.

 door knob s7.1doorknob s7.3doorknobs7.3

Step 8

Now attach the two handles together using the two long screws, alternately tightening each side until you have a solid fit and the knobs come together evenly. You'll want to make sure the screws are tight together.

Step 9

Test your work and ensure that both handles twist easily, the knobs don't rattle up against the door (if this happens the screws are too loose) and the door cannot be pushed or pulled open (from either side) without using the handle.

Welcome to your new door! Your guests will now get the design impression you've been trying to create. Not only that, once they discover you changed it out yourself, they'll be doubly impressed.

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This article was helpful, but not to me - I live in a century-old plus house, and all the doorknobs have their original - and very worndown - hardware. In fact, the knob fell off my front door and I no longer use the front door! (have a deadbolt there for safety). I also have 2 bedroom doors that I can't close because the knobs don't work and I dont' want to be shut in. Can you post any information in dealing with older lock sets? All my knobs seem to be on one main thick metal post which passes right through the door, then the knobs are stuck on each end by a small, fat headless screw. I'd like to replace them, but in keeping with the age of the house and am not sure if I can use newer 'antiqued' locksets? Please advise.

Renee, If you pull those doorknobs off again and give them a closer look, oftentimes the "small, fat screw" can be screwed further out of the doorknob itself...therefore providing a longer screw. And I've noticed in my century-old plus house, that this is really the only way to "repair" these door knobs. Eventually, they come loose again, and you have to repeat the process, adjust the screw, put the doorknob back together with the side screw tightened... but at least it would last you long enough to be able to sleep behind closed doors at night :)

I like my old house, some of the lovely original doorknobs are loose. I am thinking of putting a wooden disk with a hold through the middle for that "thick metal post" on each side of the door between the door and the round piece that fastens the doorknob on because all of the screw holes are loose and the screws need some traction.

It never ceases to amaze me, the complexities that lurk behind seemingly simple tasks. I can take on the most rudimentary of tasks and turn them into frustrating projects: so here goes my efforts on changing a simple door knob: My door knob does not have a key slot. Neither does it have the two screws on the inside to facilitate easy removal. The trim on both sides were screwed in on the shaft which I was able to unscrew. Also I noticed that on one side the stem seem to ride on a hollow cylindrical thingy flanged on one side and straight on the other. No amount of prying, pulling and praying would loosen up anything, let alone get it out. I was able to locate a couple of screws on the rose insert and after some creative unscrewing (placed a think wire over the flat head screws, gently rotated it and begged my young un to use this tiny fingers to unscrew it). Surprise of surprises, it was not at all long as I expected. Couple of screws with small shafts. And their removal did nothing to get the door knobs out. Of course I got the strike plate mechanism out easily - Now it is impossible for me to even to return it to the original condition since placing them back does not restore the door knob functionality: the knob rotates but seemed to have divorced the deadlatch and would have nothing to do with it anymore. Just frustrated folks!! Thinking of sleeping on it tonight and first thing in the morning use my brand new hammer with some kind of nail removal attachment on one side: insert that side beneath the trim and use brute force to pry the dang thing out and throw all caution to the winds! Unless of course someone is kind enough to initiate me into the secret door knob removal cult and the mysterious removal technique. I inspected every atom of the door knob and could not find a name or make of the door knob. Appreciate any help folks! Thanks.