How to Install a Doorknob

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.