Replacing old doorknobs is a great way to update your home in as little as 20 minutes per door. Doorknobs come in a wide range of styles...

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Replacing old doorknobs is a great way to update your home in as little as 20 minutes per door.

Doorknobs come in a wide range of styles, from ornate and classical to sleek and modern, and you can find them in almost every finish, including gold, brass, brushed nickel, polished chrome, ceramic or even glass. Most doorknobs are sold in standard sizes, so finding a perfect fit for standard-sized doors shouldn’t be a problem. Expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $100 per set (the price typically depends on the locking mechanism, style and color you choose).

If you are replacing your front doorknobs, choose the replacement before removing the current doorknobs. This way you’ll avoid leaving your home unlocked (without an external doorknob) while you run to the home-improvement center to get a new one.

If you find you can’t pick out the right one without the old one in hand, get a friend to house-sit while you go to the store.

Shopping for doorknobs

Knowing ahead of time what you’re looking for can greatly simplify this process. Things to consider:

• Do you want your doorknob to lock from the inside with an internal locking mechanism (think bathrooms)? Will it be used for an outside knob with an external lock (think front and back door) or no lock at all (a closet)?


• Phillips screwdriver

• Flathead screwdriver

• New doorknob and hardware

• What type of handle are you looking for? A round shaped knob, or a lever-type handle? (Lever-style doorknobs are easier to open for small children and adults with physical disabilities.)

• Do you need to match them with the rest of the knobs in your home, or are you looking for decorative sets to add some style?

• What finish would you like? Gold, brass, chrome, brushed nickel or glass?

• Do you want new doorknobs, or do you want to replace them with antique knobs?

Tip: Check to see who manufactured the doorknobs that are being replaced. If you can find a new doorknob made by the same manufacturer, it will make replacing the old one easy.

Here’s how to do the job:

Out with the old

1. Remove the existing doorknob and all its hardware.

Start by removing the trim (also called the rose cover). The trim of the doorknob is the ring-shaped piece of metal up against the door.

Typically, there is a single piece of trim on one side of the door to cover the two screws holding the knob together. Some are made to be removable, and others aren’t.

If they are removable, there will be two visible screws on either side of the trim. If there are no screws, you’ll need to pop the trim piece off with a flathead screwdriver or small pry tool. Make sure to slide the flathead screwdriver well underneath the ring to prevent damaging the door itself. (Most trim pieces have a slot that is wide enough for a screwdriver to fit through.)

2. Remove the two screws holding the knobs together one at a time. These are usually long screws, so it may take awhile.

3. Once the screws are out, you should be able to pull the knobs apart and out of the door completely.

4. With the doorknobs off, take out the deadlatch (this is the piece that holds the door closed) by removing the two screws holding it in place and pulling it out.

5. If you need to replace the strike plate (the small metal plate that catches the bolt or lock in the door frame), remove the two screws that hold it in place.

Tip: You won’t need to change out the strike plate unless you are replacing an old door knob with a different type of metal or one that is a different color.

In with the new

1. To install the new doorknobs, start by first inserting the new latch. Slide it into its hole, then screw it in place with the two screws that came with it.

Tip: When inserting the latch, the slanted side should always point in the direction the door closes. This is what keeps the door from being easily pushed open. Also, if you are installing a door knob with a lock, don’t forget to first determine which side you want the lock to be on before getting started.

2. Place one doorknob in the hole through the openings in the deadlatch. If the trim piece (or rose cover) comes separately, it should be placed on the doorknob before attaching it. Now repeat the same process on the other side. When you place the second doorknob in its hole, make sure the doorknobs align properly so the holes for the two long screws line up.

3. Put in 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.

4. Test the knobs to make sure that both handles twist easily, and that they don’t rattle up against the door (which usually means the screws are too loose) and the door cannot be pushed or pulled open (from either side) without using the handle.

That’s all there is to it. Once you’ve done a door or two, the process will get much easier.

Be Jane is a monthly home-improvement feature in digs. It’s adapted from, the online community created by Heidi Baker and Eden Jarrin.