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How to Install a Deadbolt Lock

Keep unwanted guests from coming through your doors

How to Install a Deadbolt LockFamily Handyman
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.

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Complexity
Beginner

What you need to know to learn how to install a deadbolt lock

Mark the door

Mark the door for drilling by taping the template to the inside of the door (wood doors have a bevel that will throw the measurements off if you use the exterior side). Place the template so the center of the deadbolt will be 6 in. above the center of the doorknob.

Drill the cylinder hole

Drill out the cylinder hole with the 2-1/8 in. hole saw. Use the same setback (distance from door edge to hole center) as the doorknob, either 2-3/8 in. or 2-3/4 in. After the hole saw’s pilot bit pokes through the opposite side, remove the scrap wood protector and finish drilling the cylinder hole from the exterior side.

Drill the bolt hole

Next, drill out the bolt hole in the center of the door edge with the 1-in. hole saw or spade bit. Keep your drill level and square as you make these holes.

Chisel a recess for the faceplate

Chisel out the recess for the rectangular faceplate by inserting the bolt latch set into the door and marking the profile of the faceplate onto the door edge. Use a sharp 1-in. chisel to remove enough material to allow the faceplate to be flush with the door edge (usually about 3/16 in.).

Tip: Cut the vertical edges with a utility knife to avoid accidentally splitting the door with the chisel.

Mark the jamb

Mark the jamb for the strike plate and box by coating the bolt end with lipstick (install the cylinder and bolt first). Next, mark the profile of the strike plate on the jamb. Then, drill out for the strike box by drilling overlapping 1-in. holes. Finally, chisel out the recess for the strike box and plate.

Secure the strike box

Secure the strike box to the jamb and the 2×4 frame behind it. Drill pilot holes for the screws. Generally, the jamb will have a hollow space behind it. So go slowly to avoid warping the jamb by driving the screws too deep.

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 how to install a deadbolt lock 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.

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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 2×4 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.

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Required Tools for this How to Install a Deadbolt Lock Project

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

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

Required Materials for this How to Install a Deadbolt Lock Project

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

  • Deadbolt lockset