How To Install a Deadbolt

2-3 hours

deadboltNothing is worse than living in a house where you don't feel safe. We hear horror stories on the news and can't help but feel the slightest bit paranoid even if we live in a good neighborhood. Still, if you are seeking a tad more security, a deadbolt on your entry doors is a pretty good investment.

There are two types of deadbolts: internal and surface mount. The latter provides more security but sits on the surface of the door. The internal lock is as its name implies-inside the door itself. Some deadbolts are built so that they open only with a key from both the inside and the outside. Such locks are very secure but pose a fire hazard and are actually illegal in some cities.

No matter which type of deadbolt lock you choose, the key (no pun intended) to a successful project is careful planning and precise measurements. Don't just rush through this one. Because if you mess it up, you may need to buy a new door. So, taking your time will keep your confidence and your security well in tact.

Buying the Lock

Before heading to the store, there are a few things to consider. First is whether or not you want an internal or a surface mount lock. Next, measure the thickness of the door. Most doors are 1 ¾" thick, but older doors can vary. Another factor: whether you have a left or right-handed door. If the door is right-handed, the hinges will be mounted on the outside of the door, on the right side. Your best bet is to take a picture of your door and bring it into the home improvement store. The salesperson will be able to help you decide on what kind of lock works best for your door type.


Jane Tip: Recently there have been videos circulating on the Internet on how to pick a deadbolt in a matter of seconds. The technique, called "bump-keying", is accomplished when a criminal files down a key which then can open any deadbolt. Bump-keying is nothing new, but because information on how to do it has become so widely available it has caused quite a stir. Some brands claim to be bump-key resistant, so when shopping around, look for one of these models.

This project assumes that you are installing a new deadbolt and not simply replacing an old one. Chances are you may need to pick up a few extras to complete this project.

Project Steps

Jane Tip: Your deadbolt will come with a template and instructions that may vary from the ones we are giving you. Always be sure to read the manufacturers instructions that came with your unit.

Installing a Surface Mounted Deadbolt

Step 1

Tape the lock template that came with your lock to the door, lining it up with the door's edge. Don't place the template too close to other locks or handles. Use your level or combination square to ensure that the template is straight and exactly where you want it. Again, don't rush! This step can make or break your whole project.

Jane Tip: When starting to drill into the door, make sure it's shut.

Step 2

Now that the template is in place, use the screwdriver or awl to mark where the screws will go. Puncture the paper, boring down through the wood to make firm, clear markings. Next, mark where the cylinder hole will go--the template will have this outlined for you.

Step 3

Wearing your protective eyewear and face mask, lift the template and drill pilot holes according to the markings you just made. Then, using your drill with the hole attachment or a hole saw, start to bore through the door. When drilling, go far enough so that the bit just barely pokes through the other side. Then go at it from the other side of the door to complete the hole.

Step 4

Next, place the cylinder in the hole you just made. (You may need to first place a ring around it). This may seem obvious, but make sure the key hole is facing the right way (towards the outside of the house).

Step 5

Attach the back plate to the inside of the door by screwing it place using your pre-drilled holes.

Step 6

Now, the bulk of the lock will go over the back plate. Attach it with the provided hardware. Test the lock a couple of times to make sure it is easy to use and securely attached to the door.

Step 7

Next, you will attach the connecting bar. The easiest way to do this is to attach the connecting bar to the lock itself, and then mark its placement on the wall. Using your markings as a guide, screw the connecting bar in place.

Step 8

Now you should have a newly-installed, perfectly-fitting deadbolt lock. If for some reason it doesn't fit, you may need to shim or mortise it into place.

Installing a deadbolt is a relatively easy project well worth the added security. Even if you feel pretty safe in your home, there is no reason not to add one for that extra peace of mind. Your success will depend more upon your patience and accuracy rather than your skill set, so take your time.

Also, don't forget to use the resources at the home improvement store. They will be able to recommend the right lock as well as all the right tools for installation, saving you from multiple trips to the store and a few headaches down the line.