Hardware Basics: Things to Know Before You Change Your Locks

Hardware Basics: Things to Know Before You Change Your Locks

Are you thinking about changing the locks on your home, but aren’t sure if you’re up for the job? Maybe you just bought a new house and want to be sure no one else has a key. Maybe the locks on your front door don’t match the lock on the interior doors. Maybe you’d prefer levers instead of knobs. Or, maybe you just want to refresh the look of your home. Whatever the reason, replacing your door locks can be a DIY-friendly project – as long as you keep a few things in mind!

First, take a look at your doors and figure out what locks will work with your doors. (Some doors in older homes may have a mortise-style lock, which will be more difficult to replace. If this is the case, you may want to either replace the door or contact a locksmith to change the lock.) Check the backset (the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole for the lock) and the hole prep to make sure they’ll work with your new locks. The most common backsets are 2-3/8” or 2-3/4”, and many door locks are designed to fit in a 2-1/8” bore hole.

Once you’ve done your homework and figured out what will fit your door, you can start looking at the various door lock options that are out there! Do you want a knob or a lever? Do you prefer contemporary or traditional styles? Do you want the locks to match the rest of your home’s hardware, or do you prefer the look of mixed metals?

Before you purchase your locks, make a list of the locks you’ll need so you know exactly what to bring home from the store! Make a note of the handing for the various doors in case the lock you’ve chosen is handed instead of reversible. (While most locks are reversible, some functions – like dummy levers and interior trim packs for handlesets – are left-hand or right-hand specific. Handing is determined from the outside of the door and depends on the hinges. If the hinges are on the right from the outside, the door is right-handed, and vice versa.)

If you’re replacing a keyed lock and want to use your existing keys, be sure you choose a lock with the same type of keyway as your original locks. Then, you can have a locksmith rekey your new lock to match your key before you put the lock on the door.

Finally, collect the tools you’ll need for the job. If you’re replacing an existing lock, you’ll probably just need a Phillips screwdriver.

Phillips Screwdriver

If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll also want a hole saw (most likely 2-1/8” in size), a chisel for the latch face, a drill with a spade bit for the latch, a tape measure, and the installation template that comes with your lock. Before you drill a hole in your doors, read the instructions carefully. This way, you can be sure that your lock doesn’t require anything else for the installation! (If you plan to install several locks on new doors, you may want to invest in a door lock installation kit. These kits usually include the hole saws and jigs required for the most common door locks and can make the installation process a bit smoother!)

With these tips, changing your locks can be a breeze!

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