How to Replace a Deadbolt Lock

Ready to get rid of your deadbeat deadbolt? Learn how to install a new one in our step-by-step guide.

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Katie McEntire
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
April 19, 2022
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If you want to make your home more secure, start with the front door. Whether you want to upgrade your current deadbolt or your old one’s been acting up, replacing it with a better deadbolt or front door lock is so easy that even a DIY novice can do it.

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1. Remove your old deadbolt

Best overall deadbolt

Start by removing your original deadbolt. Most deadbolts have two screws on the inside face plate. Adjust the lock so those screws are accessible, loosen them, then remove the back faceplate.

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Next, remove the strike plate (the thin horizontal plate that makes contact with the door frame). This will also have two small screws holding it to your door.

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Once these two pieces are free, you can remove the front faceplate.

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You’re ready to start installing your new deadbolt lock once all these pieces are gone and you’re left with a hole in your door.

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Light Bulb
Choosing a new deadbolt
Unlike many DIY projects, you don’t need to stress too much about measuring your door to find the right deadbolt. And deadbolt locks come in a range of prices from $15 to up to $200 depending on the materials they use.

2. Size your new deadbolt to your door

Before screwing in any new pieces, adjust the new deadbolt to your door. Most deadbolts come with two sizes built right in: one for wider diameter holes and one for smaller.

how to size a new deadbolt to your door

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The one we used has two sizes: 2 ¾” and 2 ⅜”. We used the first (and smaller) option for our door. The good news is it’s easy to switch on most deadbolts if you need to change the size.

You can tell which is the right fit by looking at the center latch where the front of the bolt connects to the back. The latch (usually a cross or straight line) should sit in the middle of the hole.

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3. Screw in the new strike plate

Now that the deadbolt fits, attach the strike plate and core of the lock into the door. Insert the main piece with the strike plate on the outside. Make sure the “Up” marking is pointing up and the latch is in the middle of the door’s hole.

Once that’s all aligned, screw the new strike plate into the door.

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Checklist
Sometimes size matters
The screws that came with this kit were really short, so I used the longer ones from my old deadbolt instead. When it comes to securing doors, these longer screws provide a better grip in the wood and better security for your front door.

4. Attach the front and back plates

Now here’s the tricky part.

Align the front and back plates on the door. You’ll see bolt holes in the front face plate where the included screws go into. Those will line up with the back face plate.

You can hold the front plate yourself or grab some tape to make the job a little easier.

Next, screw in the two bolts holding the back plate to the front plate. This might take some patience and maybe a couple of attempts if you’re doing it alone.

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5. Test your new deadbolt

Finally, test the lock to make sure it’s aligned and working. And you’re done! You can test your deadbolt by trying to lock it from the inside and testing the lock from the outside with the included keys.

Now you’ve got a shiny new deadbolt ready to go.

Final word

Deadbolts may be old fashioned, but they’re a tried-and-true way to keep any door secure. We installed our new deadbolt in around 20 minutes and now have a tight new lock on the front door ready to go.

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