How to Install a Deadbolt

Keep unwanted guests from coming through your doors

To improve the security of your home, you could get a dog with a bark vicious enough to scare the rust off a statue. But one of the easiest, least expensive and most effective security measure you can take is to install a heavy-duty deadbolt. Here's how.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

What you need to know

Single-cylinder deadbolts (keyed on one side) will work fine for most situations. Double-cylinder deadbolts (keyed on two sides) are a good idea if you have a window near the deadbolt. For safety reasons, if you choose a double-cylinder deadbolt, make absolutely certain your family knows where the key is and leaves it there.Calling a locksmith out for this job will cost $150 or more, but you can install a heavy-duty deadbolt yourself in less than an hour for a third of the price. That's about average for a good deadbolt and a hole saw set. To cut through a steel door, make sure you get a “bimetal” hole saw set.

Use a Grade 1 deadbolt. Deadbolts have a grade rating of 3 to 1 (1 is the toughest). Most home centers carry Grade 1 deadbolts, such as Schlage's Maximum Security Deadbolt, but you may have to hunt for them. Expect to pay $27 to $35 for a Grade 1.

Install a strike box. A strike box strengthens the deadbolt by spreading the impact of a forced entry over a wider area and by helping tie the strike to the 2x4 frame, not just the jamb. You can get a separate strike box for about $7 at home centers.

Use the rectangular faceplate. Most deadbolts allow you to choose between a rectangular faceplate and a round one that doesn't require chiseling. Unless you have a steel door, don't be tempted! The rectangular faceplate, recessed into the door, makes a stronger setup.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Tape measure
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Corded drill
  • Combination square
  • Drill bit set
  • Extension cord
  • Hearing protection
  • Hole saw kit
  • Safety glasses
  • Utility knife
  • Wood chisel

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Deadbolt lockset

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