Home security starts at your front door. Studies show that roughly one third of burglars enter a home through the front door, and doors that lack a study deadbolt can be particularly vulnerable.

If you’re helping protect your family against intruders with an old wood door, or a hollow one, the first thing you’ll want to do is replace it with a solid wood door or a metal clad door. Then fortify the door with a strong deadbolt.

Installing a deadbolt is a relatively simple and affordable DIY project. To make it even easier for you, we’ve outlined the supplies you’ll need and detailed the steps you’ll take. Grab a tool belt; in less than an hour you will have accomplished a critical DIY home security task.

Gather Tools and Supplies

Before you begin fitting the deadbolt, you’ll need to gather the following supplies: a tape measure, an electric drill with a hole saw and spade bits, a combination square, a mallet, screwdrivers, a chisel, a small amount of paint, an awl and a pencil.

The deadbolt lock set you buy will come with a template to help with measurements. The template works with doors of various thicknesses and features reference points that can be marked on the door with an awl. Check the instructions and be sure to use the exact size drill bits specified. Often, deadbolts require a 2 1/8-inch hole saw for the lock bodies and a 1-inch spade bit for the sliding bolt assembly.

Fitting the Deadbolt

  1. Measure from six inches above the center of the existing door handle and mark a line.
  2. Place the combination square on the edge of the door, then make a perpendicular line through your original mark and extend it a few inches beyond. Continue drawing the line around the door edge and across the rear of the door, until you reach the same location as the line on the opposite side.
  3. Place the paper template around the edge of the door. Ensure the centerline on the template is aligned with the marks on the door.
  4. Use a nail or an awl to mark the centers of the holes for the lock bodies on the front and back of the door. Mark the center of the bolt assembly on the edge of the door.
  5. After you have marked mark the reference points from the template, you’ll use the hole saw to drill out the hole that the lock bodies will fit in. Drill halfway through one side of the door, and then drill halfway through the other side until the hole goes completely through the door- this will minimize splintering. To help ensure a quality fit, you’ll want to be sure the drill holes are as perpendicular to the face of the door as possible.
  6. Using the spade bit, you will drill an intersecting hole through the door edge and into the hole you just drilled to house the lock bodies. Once again, take care that the hole you drill is as perpendicular to the edge of the door as possible.
  7. Dry-fit the cylinder and thumb-turn plate, then place the bolt assembly in the hole you just drilled and trace around the outside of the faceplate with a pencil.
  8. Remove the assembly and chisel out a mortise deep enough to ensure the faceplate is flush with the edge of the door. Remember to keep the beveled side of the chisel in toward the mortised area. For enhanced control over the chisel, tap it gently with the mallet. The mortise should be cut about 1/4-inch deep.
  9. Now that the faceplate fits flush with the edge of the door, drill 1/8-inch pilot holes for the screws and then screw the bolt assembly to the door.
  10. Secure the outside lock body to the side of the door that faces the street, and fasten the inside lock body to the interior side of the door using the screws provided in the deadbolt kit. Keep in mind that the screws always go on the inside lock body to prevent someone from outside of your home unscrewing them.

Fitting the Strike Plate

  1. Dab the end of the dead bolt with a touch of paint.
  2. Next, close the door and turn the deadbolt several times to mark the doorframe.
  3. Use the spade bit to drill a 1-inch deep hole into the door jam to accept the sliding bolt.
  4. The strike plate must fit flush with the doorframe. Chisel out a mortise deep enough so that it sits flush.
  5. Drill pilot holes and fasten the strike plate with screws provided in the deadbolt kit.
  6. Test the deadbolt for smooth operation, make adjustments as necessary.

If you’re serious above enhancing your home’s security, then you’ll want to consider installing security cameras and motion lighting. You’ll also want to invest in a home alarm system, and arm it every time you enter or exit your home. Start your search for the ideal home security solution here.

Written by Alexia Chianis

Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more

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