How to Install a Deadbolt

Install a Deadbolt

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20 to $50

One of the best ways to secure your home, property, and the safety of your family is with a simple, inexpensive alteration to your exterior doors: a single-cylinder deadbolt lock. Home security experts and local law enforcement agencies routinely advise homeowners to install a deadbolt as an effective deterrent against intruders manipulating entry doorknobs.

Deadbolts guard against jimmying because the only way to slide out the bolt from the strike plate is by turning a knob from inside the house. Deadbolts, too, have strong bolts that extend far into the door frame. As long as the door frame and strike plate are in good condition, it is extremely difficult for an intruder to access your home through an engaged deadbolt, even with drills, saws, picks, or pry bars.

If this is a new door that has no cut-out for a deadbolt, begin at the first step.


Single-cylinder deadbolts have a key opening on the exterior and a latch on the interior that does not require a key. Double-cylinder deadbolts require keys on both sides of the door. Safety experts often recommend that residences be fitted with single-cylinder deadbolts for easier egress in the event of an emergency.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Hole saw, 2 1/8-inch diameter
  • Spade bit, 1-inch diameter
  • Painter's tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Chisel
  • Hammer


  • Single-cylinder deadbolt


  1. Place the Template on the Door

    When unpacking the deadbolt, look for the paper template that is used for drilling holes in the door. The template might be included in the instruction sheet or it might be printed on the inside of the product's box. Unfold the template and cut where indicated with scissors. Tape the template to the door with painter's tape. Usually, the template drapes over two sides of the door: the door face and the door edge.

  2. Drill the Hole for the Bolt Mechanism

    Chuck the hole saw into the cordless drill. Use a 2 1/8-inch diameter hole saw or the size specified by the instructions. Brace the door. Slowly drill the large hole on the face of the door for the deadbolt mechanism.


    You can cut directly through the paper template. If you anticipate needing to use the template again, you should transfer the template information to the door with a pencil.

  3. Drill the Hole for the Bolt

    Move to the edge of the door. The other half of the template should still be in place. This half indicates the position of the second hole in the door—the hole that penetrates the edge of the door for the deadbolt to move in and out.

    Fit the 1-inch spade bit (or the size indicated by the instructions) into the drill. Press the sharp end of the spade bit directly on the center dot on the template. Make sure that the door is braced. Turn on the drill slowly and auger through the paper, and then into the wood of the door. Keep augering until this hole meets up with the 2 1/8-inch hole created in the previous step.

  4. Chisel Spaces For the Strike Plate and Bolt

    The door jamb will have an inset metal strike plate that strengthens the jamb and helps the deadbolt move more smoothly. Using the plate and a pencil, outline the inset area on the door jamb. With the chisel and hammer, gently chisel down about 1/8-inch and carve out the indicated area.

    The bolt will have a similar inset. Insert the bolt into the 1-inch hole and draw an outline of the plate. Remove, then chisel out the area down to 1/8-inch.

  5. Install the Door Jamb Strike Plate and Bolt

    With a Phillips screwdriver and the included screws, screw the strike plate to the door jamb with two screws. Similarly, insert the deadbolt into the 1-inch hole, seat it in the carved-out area by gently tapping with the hammer, then screw it into place.

  6. Install the Deadbolt Mechanism

    Install the two halves of the deadbolt mechanism on the door, one on each side of the door. Be sure that the keyed section of the deadbolt mechanism is on the exterior side of the door. At this stage, it helps to have an assistant hold the two halves of the mechanism in place.

  7. Screw the Deadbolt Mechanism in Place

    Insert the two 2 1/2-inch mounting bolts into the deadbolt mechanism from the interior side. Use a cordless drill to screw these bolts into place rather than a manual screwdriver; because these are such long bolts, the cordless drill will greatly speed up the process. Do not over-tighten.