To change a doorknob that’s damaged or needs a style update to match the direction you’re taking your space, our guidelines help get the job done efficiently and affordably.

To begin, you’ll need a new complete doorknob set, any accompanying screws and hardware, and additional wood screws suitable for the type of wood and thickness of your door. You will also need Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers or a power drill with screwdriver bits as well as a measuring tape. If you’re new to home construction or repairs you may not know how to replace a doorknob — let us help you through the hoops.

Step 1: Removing Old Door Hardware

Before installing a new doorknob and any cool hardware that goes along with it, you’ll first have to successfully remove the old knob. This is usually done quickly and easily by simply removing the external and internal knobs, any metal plates beneath the knobs, all screws, the latch, and latch plate. Sometimes removing either the decorative plate or latch plate can be difficult because the old hardware was installed onto wet paint or because the door warped over time. Carefully pry hardware away from the door with a flat head screwdriver; using a crowbar will likely cause cracking or other damage to the door, jamb, or case.

Step 2: Preparing the Area Where New Doorknob Will Go

In order for a new doorknob to function properly all splinters and screws from the old doorknob set must be cleared away. You might need to replace the existing strike plate with the one that comes in the package with the new doorknob or one sold separately if the existing plate doesn't work with the new knob's locking system. For example, if the strike plate in pictures of the new doorknob looks round and the one currently in your door appears square, replace it before it causes issues. Finally, ensure the hole beneath the strike plate is free of splinters and debris that could make the latch stick when the door is shut. Home construction experts who know how to change a doorknob will tell you this is a key step most people skip that can cause problems later.

Diagram of a doorknob

Step 3: Measure the Backset Before Installing the New Doorknob

Before installing a new doorknob, measure the distance between the center of the hole the doorknob goes through and the hole the latch comes out of the exterior. This measurement is called the backset, and it will help determine whether you need to shorten or lengthen the latch assembly. Backset measurements are pretty universal and will almost always be either 2 and 3/8 inches or 2 and 3/4 inches. Almost all doorknob sets available for purchase are readily able to change between these two sizes very simply before installation. Determine whether your door is the shorter or the longer of these measurements and adjust the new assembly as needed.

Step 4: Installing the New Doorknob

Insert latch assembly ensuring the striker is facing the exterior:
You’re finally ready to install the new doorknob. First, place the latch assembly through the small hole in the door's exterior edge (the same hole you measured the backset distance to). Make sure the assembly goes through the door in the right direction; the striker (larger side of the latch) must face the room’s exterior. Once the assembly appears squarely centered in the large hole the doorknobs will meet through, begin screwing the attached latch plate into the door’s outside edge.

Interior and exterior knobs and spindle alignment:
When learning how to replace a doorknob you may not notice one doorknob has a pin coming out of the spindle and the other knob has a hole this pin slides into. One knob will face a room’s interior and the other will face the exterior. Line up the pin from one side of the door with the hole from the other side through the latch assembly going through the middle of the door.

Fastening the knobs to the door:
Affix the knobs to one another by inserting the metal pin into the metal peg in the other side. Once the knobs are connected to one another through the latch assembly, begin screwing in one knob and then the other with the screws from the doorknob set. Most sets have two holes per knob accompanied by two flat head screws for each. Affix these screws to the door with a flat head screwdriver (unless your knob’s small screws are Phillips head, which is pretty rare).

Now you know how to change a doorknob!