Lock Talk: Deadbolt Installation – DIY

Deadbolt Installation

This is an article to help the Do It Yourselfer complete a deadbolt installation. Deadbolts are a staple in modern day residential security. Deadbolts are much stronger security than your handle locks. This is effectively because handles are easier to bypass and kick in than deadbolts. When checking exterior doors for security faults, the lack of a deadbolt is the biggest one. Therefore, you may want to install a deadbolt. Before jumping on the drilling bandwagon, it is important to determine a couple of things. First, is the door metal or wood? Second, determine the location of your install. Third, consider the weather stripping on the door.

Wood or Metal

If the door is wood, you should not need anything special to complete the job. However, if the door is metal, make sure you are using a metal rated hole saw. When cutting through metal with a hole saw, slow speeds with lubricant will ensure a smooth cut.

In addition, consider how you will manage the latch portion of the door. Most metal doors have foam inside the door. Screws will not hold on foam. Consequently, there are two options you can take. First, purchase a lock with an adjustable latch. This will be the easiest approach and will secure the door well. Second, you can purchase a piece that fits into your drilled hole and secures the latch down.

Location of Install

The location of the installation is important. You want to examine the door frame and avoid installation where there is nails. You do not want to have to drill through nails. Also, you want to ensure you are not drilling where the frame wood joins together. This can cause the joint to splinter and look bad.

Check if Door Sags

Before starting the deadbolt installation, make sure that the door is not sagging. This can be done by looking at the crack around the door. If the crack is even, the door is ready. Otherwise, adjust the door before doing the installation. Performing an installation on a sagging door will make the door extraordinarily difficult to fix. 

Tools Needed

  • Drill
  • Appropriate Hole Saw/Spade Bit
  • Jig/Paper Template
  • Level
  • Chisel
  • Lip Stick
  • Deadbolt

Added Note for Tools

When I first started doing deadbolt installations, a deadbolt installation jig was my first purchase. Although you can use the base template that comes with the deadbolt, a jig makes the installation much easier. Most box office stores will sell a cheap jig that you can use to install your deadbolt.

In addition, a jig might be needed if you are opening up an existing hole.When drilling a new hole, the pilot bit in the hole saw will keep you drilling straight. If there is an existing hole, there is nothing keeping your drill in place. Using a strong metal jig is the way to go in this situation. The plastic cheap jigs will not hold your drill in place when opening up a hole.

Warning: I have tried to open a hole with the plastic jig. The jig broke and disaster was barely avoided. When installing a deadbolt, be sure to exercise safety procedures. Wear eye glasses, use correct tool for the job, and be aware of what is happening around you.

Step One:

Take a second and make sure the jig has all the proper settings. Put jig on door to match predetermined installation location. Use a level to make sure the jig is on true. When installing anything, measure twice, drill once. Once you are absolutely sure the jig is level and on the right settings, move on.

Step Two:

Drill halfway through the door on one side. Then finish the hole from the other side. This step is important. If you drill all the way through on one side, you risk  the wood splintering out on the other side. Drilling half and half ensures smoothly drilled holes.

Step 3:

Drill your latch hole. This is typically 3/4 to 1in hole. Refer to your deadbolts instruction to determine which. Make sure you drill straight throughout the entire process.

Step 4:

If the door is wood, chisel in your latch to be flush the door, and install your latch screws. For a metal door, you can adjust the latch to fit.

Step 5:

You can now put the deadbolt onto the door, and make sure the lock is working as intended. Do not tighten the back screws too much. This can bend the back portion of the deadbolt. If it is difficult to turn, the most common issue is tension. Address this issue by making sure the deadbolt is installed straight with the proper settings in place.

Step 6:

Throw the bolt out and add lipstick to the end of it. Draw the latch back into the door and shut the door in it's natural position. Then use the deadbolt to mark your latch on the frame.

Step 7:

line up your latch plate with the lipstick. Mark your latch screws holes. Also, draw an outline around the strike plate. This will allow you to know where to chisel the strike plate in.

Step 8:

Screw in your latch screws to keep their location known throughout the chisel. Make sure the screws are small, so if your measurements are off, you will have room to adjust the screws and maintain strike plate strength.

Step 9:

Drill your latch hole, and chisel your strike plate into door frame. This part can be the most difficult. You need to consider the weather stripping, and sometimes you may need to cut some out to get your latch in place.

Step 10:

Place strike plate in chiseled hole and mount with one smaller screw. This will allow you to maintain as much wood as possible before driving in your final screws.

Step 11:

Test lock - If working, use larger screws to finalize the installation, if it is off, determine how and make adjustments accordingly.

Trouble Shooting

If done correctly, the adjustments should not be too hard to visually see and correct.