Q: A couple of doorknobs in my house have seen better days. Can I easily replace them?
A: (Brad Staggs, Ask DIY Home Repair Expert) Sure. It’s a very simple project. Even if there’s nothing wrong with your doorknob, you might want to upgrade to one that’s easier for people with disabilities to open. Before you buy a doorknob, though, take off the old one and take it to the store for comparison. Also make sure you know whether your doorknob goes on the right or left side of the door. To remove the old knob and install the new, follow these steps.
Lock set with key and screws Flathead or slot screwdriver Power drill
- The toughest part is getting the old doorknob off. If your doorknob has screws on the cover plates, remove those to loosen the old knob. If not, look for a slot on the side of the handle that has a little piece of metal sticking out. Then use the key from the new doorknob to push in on the metal — that will make the doorknob pop loose (figure A).
- Pull off the doorknob to reveal the plate below. Look for a slot in the plate along the seam where it butts against the door. Wedge a slot (also known as flathead) screwdriver in the slot and then give the plate a half twist to pop it off.
- With plate removed, you’ll see the screws you should remove with a power drill (figure B).
Safety Alert: Always wear safety eyewear when using a power
Even beginners can install a new doorknob with a power drill and slot screwdriver.
- Remove the old latch by taking out the screws with a power drill or screwdriver (figure C).
- Screw the new latch in, setting the screws by hand first and then tightening them with a power drill.
- Place the knobs themselves, set the screws by hand, and finish by drilling. Don’t overtighten the screws or you’ll bind the doorknob.
- Test the key and make sure the door locks properly.
More Questions for Brad:
Q: I’m painting the trim around my doors. Would it be easier with the doors off the hinges? How do I remove them?
A: It’s a whole lot easier to paint with your doors off the hinges, and you should take your doorknobs off, too. There’s a hinge pin running through the center of the hinge, which you should remove with an old screwdriver. Take all three hinges off and then carefully remove the door.
Q: My kids have caused damage by slamming the doorknob on the wall. How can I prevent this?
A: There are actually a couple of solutions. Try one of those springy doorstops that screw into the baseboard of the wall and keep the door from opening all the way and hitting the wall. There are also doorstop contraptions that attach to the top of the hinge pin, for places where you don’t have a baseboard on the wall the door is hitting.
Q: My bedroom door is hard to close. I have to really slam it. Any suggestions for solving this problem?
A: That means the door is either too wide for the door opening itself, in which case you need to plane it, or that the latch plate is sticking out too far. Or it could mean that the strike plate needs to be adjusted.