How to Replace an Interior Door Handle
05/14/2019 02:25 PM
We rely on door handles every day and typically don’t think much of them until they cause problems. In this article, we’re going to discuss some scenarios where you may need to replace a door handle and how to do so. If you run into some unfamiliar terms, refer to our Door Terminology Glossary. Doorknobs may look complicated, but the good news is that you don’t need expert knowledge or experience to properly replace a doorknob. Just follow this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to a job well done.
Diagnosing What Is Wrong With Your Doorknob
Start by determining your reasons for wanting to replace an interior doorknob. In some cases, you may be able to fix the problem without replacing the handle, but replacing the knob tends to be a simple and effective way of remedying the problem. Plus, it allows you to choose a handle that fits your precise preferences if you’re not thrilled with the knob you currently have on your door. Here are five issues that may warrant replacing your interior doorknob.
1. The Knob Is Loose
One reason you may want to replace your current door handle is because it feels loose. Loose doorknobs will jiggle around or pull away from the door when you pull on them. That can create a nuisance and means your doorknob is not doing its job properly. Doorknobs can become loose over time due to normal wear and tear.
In some cases, the doorknob may have a loose or missing screw. In this case, replacing the missing screw or tightening the loose screw may be enough to fix the problem. There could be other problems causing a loose door handle, however, such as a faulty locking mechanism. No matter what’s causing the door handle to feel loose, installing a new one should fix the problem.
2. The Components Are Misaligned
Another reason you may want to put in a new doorknob is because your door isn’t opening and closing correctly due to misaligned components. Whoever installed the current door handle may not have lined up the parts of the locking mechanism properly. Things can also become misaligned over time if the door or door frame warp slightly.
You may be able to remedy this by taking off the old strike plate, which attaches to the door jamb, and repositioning it to better align with the latch. Make sure, first, that your door is hanging straight and at the right level. If the door isn’t hanging as it should, this could be the real source of the misalignment problem. You can also fix this problem by starting fresh with a new door handle. As you install it, you can take care to make sure everything is aligned correctly.
3. The Lock Is Stiff
Another issue you can run into with doorknobs, especially when they are old, is a stiff or frozen locking mechanism. As dust and grime build up inside the knob’s internal components, the locking mechanism can become stiff or frozen up entirely. If it feels like you have to work too hard to turn your door handle, this is a sign it’s a good time to replace it.
You could also try cleaning out the doorknob, but you may find it’s easier to replace it with a new handle that turns and functions smoothly. If you want to try cleaning it, there are a couple of methods you could try. One is to work some graphite into the internal mechanism by putting it through the keyhole and then turning the lock a few times. The other is to use a lock de-icer, a formula that dissolves the grime that could be getting in the way of the locking mechanism working smoothly.
4. The Knob Doesn’t Have a Lock
Even if a door handle is operating correctly according to its intended design, you may need to replace it. For instance, some interior door handles don’t lock. While this makes sense for something like a closet door, for bedroom and bathroom doors, most people would prefer a knob that allows them to lock the door.
If you have a doorknob on a bedroom door or another interior room of your home that doesn’t have a lock, the only way to fix this issue is by replacing the knob. If you want to leave the old knob, you’ll have to add a latch lock that will hold the door in place. If you decide to install a new door handle with a lock, make sure you position it correctly so someone can lock the door from the inside.
5. The Door Handle Is Unsightly
Finally, you may want to replace a doorknob because you don’t like the way it looks. You don’t have to put up with a doorknob you don’t like just because it’s functioning. Though doorknobs may seem like a small detail, they can have a significant impact on your home’s style. Door handles should complement your home’s style, rather than take away from it.
For example, if your home has a sleek, modern look, an old, tarnished or painted-over door handle will likely look out of place. Replacing your old doorknob with a beautiful, modern door handle will elevate your home’s style. If you want your doorknobs to match the rest of your home, pay attention to what type of finish various fixtures, such as faucets and light fixtures, have throughout your home and match that finish for a cohesive feel throughout your home.
Removing and Replacing the Door Handle
Once you’ve decided you want to replace an interior door handle, you can go to work taking off the old door handle, selecting a new one you like, then installing it. There’s no need to let this process intimidate you. Though not all doorknobs have an identical design, for the majority of door handles, the same fundamental steps apply.
Let’s take some time to go over these steps so you’ll be ready to replace that faulty or dated knob with a new one that functions properly and has the look you want. All you’ll need to replace an interior door handle is a screwdriver and the new replacement door handle. A drill may also be helpful.
How to Remove the Old Door Handle
Let’s start by covering the steps for removing the old door handle. You may want to remove the old handle before buying a new one to make sure you choose a new door handle that fits correctly into the space the old knob left behind.
1. Remove the Knob
Start by placing an object like a towel between the door and the door frame to keep it open. Using your Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the screws that are holding the door handle securely to the door.
In most cases, you’ll only find these screws on one side of the door, but check to see if you have screws on both sides you need to remove. Alternate between the two screws, unscrewing each a little bit at a time, so the knob comes out evenly.
After you’ve removed the screws, the knob should come out, along with the square steel peg that holds the two knobs together. If you don’t see any screws, there should be a small tab you can push in with your screwdriver to release the knob.
2. Remove the Latch
Next, remove the latch plate, located on the inside edge of the door. This small plate surrounds the piece that sticks out to keep the door in place when you close it. Using a screwdriver, take out the screws to remove the latch plate.
Next, slide out the latch. The latch is the long, narrow component that reaches from the edge of the door to the middle of the opening where the door handle was. If the latch doesn’t slide out, you may have to remove screws on the edge of the door.
3. Remove the Strike Plate
After you’ve removed the components from the door, turn your attention to the door jamb. Here’s where you will find the strike plate. Remove the two screws holding the strike plate to the door jamb.
You may not have to remove the existing strike plate if it works with your new door handle. Your new door handle should come with a new strike plate, however, which will likely look better and will perfectly match your new handle.
4. Measure the Backset
Once you have removed all the components, you’ll want to measure the backset. Start at the edge of the door and measure to the center of the opening where the door handle will go. The backset will likely either be two and three-eighths inches or two and three-quarter inches. This measurement will help you find a knob that fits correctly.
How to Install the New Doorknob
Once the old door handle is out, you can install the new handle. Make sure you purchase one that will fit correctly in the space left by the old doorknob. If you’re installing a handle with a lock on it, make sure you buy one with the locking mechanism on the correct side.
1. Insert the Latch Assembly
The latching assembly that came with your new door handle should match the assembly on your old one. If it does, you can slide the new latch assembly in through the hole on the inside edge of the door. If the existing hole isn’t the right size for the new latch, hold the latch assembly in place and draw around it, so you know what size and shape the opening needs to be. Then, you can chisel out the hole.
When you have the right-sized opening, you can insert the new latch assembly and screw it into place. It’s essential to note that a latch is not symmetrical. One side is angled, and this is the side that should hit the strike plate first so the latch can slide in. So, when you install the latch, be sure the angled side is closest to the door frame.
You’ll also need to make sure the length of the latch is correct. Make sure the end of the latch comes to the center of the doorknob opening. Most latch assemblies come with a couple of settings so you can adjust the length if needed.
2. Screw on the Doorknob
Next, you can install the door handle itself. Start with the outside handle. Push it in through the hole, and then do the same with the inside handle on the other side of the door. If you’re installing a doorknob that locks, be sure you have the locking side on the correct side of the door.
Now you can hold the knobs in place and screw them in. Start with one side and make sure you have properly aligned the rose to where the screw holes are level. Then, you can insert a screw into each hole on the left and right side of the rose. There are small holes inside the latching mechanism that the screws should fit into. As you manually insert the screws, make sure they are feeding into these holes. You know the screws are correctly aligned if they start to thread quickly when you turn them.
Once you’ve gotten the screws started manually, go back and forth between them with a screwdriver or a drill. Be careful to avoid scratching the doorknob when you start with your screwdriver or drill at an angle. When you have one knob on, repeat with the matching one on the other side. The knobs should feel secure, but not over-tightened.
3. Install the New Strike Plate
If you’re adding a new strike plate to match the door handle, you’ll want to install that next. This step is pretty simple. Use a screwdriver or drill to secure the strike plate in position on the door jamb. Whether you’re keeping the old strike plate or installing a new one, you’ll want to check to make sure you have properly aligned it with the latch. If it’s not, you can always adjust it.
4. Test to Make Sure the Door Handle Works
All that’s left now is to test out your new door handle to make sure it works as it should. If you still have that doorstop in place, remove it and close the door. Make sure it closes and latches securely. If your doorknob has a lock, try locking the door and make sure it won’t open. Open and close the door a few times to ensure everything is working properly.
If you’re having some issues getting the door to latch correctly, you may need to adjust the strike plate. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy fix. Now you can enjoy your new interior door handle.
Choosing the Right Doorknob
When you go to the trouble of replacing a door handle, you want to make sure you choose a new one that offers the function and appearance you desire. Here are a few options to consider as you choose the perfect handle or knob for your door.
- Lock or no lock: You may not want a door that locks on closets, kids’ bedrooms or other rooms in your home. In most cases, though, you’ll want knobs that lock on bathroom and bedroom doors.
- Handle or knob: You’ll hear these terms used interchangeably for the most part, but a door handle looks more like a lever you push, and a knob is a rounded shape you turn.
- Finish color: Doorknobs come in a variety of finishes, including metal finishes like nickel and brass and other colors like black or even clear. Whatever your finish preferences, you should be able to find an option that fits.
- Modern or classic: Some doorknobs have a more modern appearance while others look more antique or classic. Determine which style you like best and would fit best in your home.
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