Not all home improvement projects need to be super complicated or break the bank to make a real difference. There are some simple things that anyone can handle, so to speak, which can really liven up the look of any room.
Fitting new door handles is a great example. Once you know the steps, it’s a really simple project to take on. This post is going to show you how to fit a door handle in 6 simple steps.
Tools & Materials
- Tape measure
- Carpenter’s pencil
- Wedge or door stop
- Assorted drill bits (standard and spade)
- Wood chisel
- Door handle set (handles, latch, spindle, latch front plate & latch strike plate)
How to Fit a Door Handle – Step-by-Step Instructions
We’re going to show you how to fit a door handle from scratch. That means you’ll know how to do it if you’re ever faced with a new door without an existing handle.
Incidentally, if you need to hang a door first, Little House on the Corner bloggers Christine and Jan can help you learn from their experience.
The process of replacing existing handles is broadly the same, just much easier. You can essentially ignore the earliest steps related to measuring, marking and drilling the door.
You might want to check out Kezzabeth’s guide to restoring old door furniture if you’re going to reuse any of the existing elements.
1. Measuring and Marking the Door
The first thing you need to do is to decide where on your door you’re going to put the new handle. The most common placement for interior door handles is 100cm from the floor.
You might wish to match the height with other doors in the property if they’re at a different level. Use a tape measure to find the desired height and mark the door’s edge and both faces with a pencil.
Offer up the front plate of the latch and handles to your door in the correct positions. Centre them on your existing pencil marks and make sure they’re level.
Use your pencil to mark the position of the spindle holes and screws needed to fit the handles, as well as those needed to secure the latch front plate.
Pro Tip: Some door handle sets will come with a template to make marking up the door easier. Once you put the template in place, it will show you where to make your marks for drill holes.
2. Drill Pilot Holes
Using a small (ideally 2mm) drill bit, drill pilot holes in position for the screws to fix the handles and front plate, the hole for the latch and the spindle holes. These pilot holes will make it easier for you to drill the actual holes (see step three).
Pro Tip: If you’re fitting your handle with the door already hung, it’s crucial that it doesn’t move while you’re drilling. You should use a high-quality wedge or doorstop to hold the door still. Even the smallest movement while you’re drilling could damage the door, or mean your handle won’t fit properly.
3. Drill Latch and Spindle Holes
You’ll now want to fit your drill with a larger drill bit. For your spindle and latch holes, it’s best to use a spade bit. The width of your latch hole needs to match the diameter of the latch. Spindle holes should be just wide enough so that the handle’s spindle can turn once it’s been threaded through.
When drilling the latch hole, you should ensure its depth is a few millimetres more than the length of the latch. That’s because of the recess you’ll be creating for the latch’s front plate (see below).
Once you’ve drilled the holes, check that the latch fits snugly and the handle’s spindle threads through. Make any necessary adjustments to the holes until they do.
4. Fitting the Latch and Front Plate
With the latch placed in its hole, offer the front plate up into position and draw around it carefully. Using a wood chisel, chisel out a recess in the shape of the front plate, deep enough so that the plate sits flush with the edge of the door.
Put the latch and front plate in place, and check the handle spindle fits and turns correctly. As long as it does, you can then screw the latch in place using the pilot holes you drilled earlier.
5. Fitting the Latch (Strike) Plate onto the Doorframe
Pull the door to, and mark the position of the latch tongue on the doorframe. Using that mark, offer up the latch plate – sometimes also known as a strike plate – in the correct position.
Draw around the plate, and also draw where the hole for the latch tongue will need to be.
Using your wood chisel once again, cut the recess for the latch plate and the hole for the latch tongue. Screw the latch plate into position, using pilot holes for the screws if necessary.
6. Fitting the Handles
Place the handles onto the spindle on each side of the door. Make sure they align, and that each can turn independently. You can then screw the handles in place, using the pilot holes you drilled earlier.
Make sure to use the right screwdriver and to do this carefully. If the screwdriver slips, it could scratch your new handle.
7. Painting the Door (Optional)
Once you’ve fitted your new door furniture, you might want to spruce up the door itself. Your brand new handles deserve to be shown off to their best, after all.
How to Fit a Door Handle – Final Thoughts
By now, you should have the confidence to fit a door handle in six simple steps, standing you in good stead if you’re looking to liven up your home’s doors quickly and easily.
It’s also a handy thing to be able to do if you need to add new doors to your home. DIY Daddy talks here about how that might help to utilise the available space.