How to Install Different Types of Deadbolts: A Simple Guide

Deadbolts are a crucial component of home security, providing an essential layer of protection against intruders. Unlike standard locks, deadbolts offer a higher level of security by being more resistant to physical attacks. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current locks or install new ones, understanding the different types of deadbolts and their installation processes can significantly enhance your home’s safety.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

There are various deadbolts available, each with pros and cons.


Common deadbolts include single-cylinder, double-cylinder, keyless entry, electronic, and smart deadbolts.

Tools you might need for installation include screwdrivers, drill, level, hammer, tape measure, and safety glasses.

Before installing a deadbolt, you need to prepare the door by marking and drilling holes for the lock and bolt mechanism.

Installing different deadbolts involves similar steps but may vary depending on the type and your door material.

Always refer to the deadbolt’s manual for specific instructions and consider hiring a professional if you’re not comfortable with DIY installation.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about installing various types of deadbolts. We will explore the different kinds of deadbolts available, discuss the tools and materials required for installation, and provide step-by-step instructions to ensure a secure fit. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to install deadbolts effectively, enhancing the security of your home.

Types of Deadbolts

There are several different types of deadbolts, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones:

Single Cylinder Deadbolts

These are the most common types of deadbolts. They have a keyhole on the outside and a thumb turn on the inside to lock and unlock the deadbolt. This allows for quick and easy exits from inside the house, but someone with access to the inside (through a window, for example) could unlock the door.

Double Cylinder Deadbolts

These deadbolts require a key to unlock from both the inside and outside. This offers increased security but can be inconvenient in an emergency situation where you need to exit quickly from the inside.

Keyless Entry Deadbolts

These deadbolts use a keypad instead of a traditional keyhole to unlock the door. You can program a code or codes to unlock the deadbolt, which eliminates the need to carry a physical key. Some keyless entry deadbolts can also be integrated with home automation systems.

Electronic and Smart Deadbolts

These deadbolts take keyless entry a step further by allowing you to unlock the door using your smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device. They often come with additional features such as the ability to track who comes and goes, lock and unlock the door remotely, and send alerts when the door is unlocked.

Types of Deadbolts

Common Tools

  • Screwdriver (Phillips and flathead)
  • Drill and driver (cordless recommended)
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Mallet (rubber)
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses
  • Utility knife
  • Pry bar (optional)
  • Chisel (optional)
  • Jigsaw (for cutting door trim/casings, if needed)

Specific Tools (Depending on Door Material)

  • Wood Doors: Wood chisel (for mortising hinges)
  • Metal Doors: Metal cutting blade for jigsaw (if cutting trim)


  • New door
  • Door frame (pre-assembled or jambs and header)
  • Hinges (quantity depends on door size and weight)
  • Screws (for hinges and frame installation)
  • Shims (wood or plastic wedges)
  • Doorstop (optional)
  • Weatherstripping
  • Strike plate(s)
  • Door knob or handle with mounting hardware
  • Caulk (optional, for finishing gaps)
  • Expanding foam (optional, for filling large gaps around frame)

Additional Notes

  • The specific type and quantity of screws and fasteners will vary depending on your chosen door and frame materials.
  • Consider safety gear like gloves and knee pads for added protection.

Preparing the Door for Deadbolt Installation:

This is the first step before installing a deadbolt on a door that doesn’t have one currently. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Measure and Mark the Hole

  • Location: Decide where you want the deadbolt to be placed on the door. A common spot is 36″ to 38″ from the floor, similar to the height of your doorknob. It should also be aligned horizontally with your existing handle or knob.
  • Mark the Door: Using a pencil, draw a horizontal line on the interior side of the door at the chosen height. This line marks the center of the deadbolt.
  • Backset: The backset refers to the distance between the edge of the door and the center of the deadbolt hole. This measurement is typically 2-3/8″ or 2-3/4″ depending on your deadbolt model. Consult your deadbolt instructions or measure an existing doorknob to determine the correct backset. Mark this distance from the edge of the door on the line you just drew.

2. Using a Template (Optional)

Many deadbolts come with a template that helps mark the drilling locations. If you have one, follow these steps:

  • Place the template on the door, lining up the center mark with the line you drew and the backset measurement with the door edge.
  • Secure the template with clamps or tape according to the template instructions.
  • Use the template markings to drill pilot holes and larger holes as needed (explained further in the next section).

3. Drilling Without a Template

If you don’t have a template, you’ll need to mark the holes directly on the door:

  • Pilot Hole: Mark the center point for the deadbolt body hole (refer to backset measurement) on the line you drew. Drill a small pilot hole here to guide the larger drill bit.
  • Main Hole: Use a 2-1/8″ hole saw to drill the main hole for the deadbolt body. To prevent splintering, drill halfway through the door from one side, then flip the door and drill the rest of the way from the other side.

4. Door Edge Hole

Drill a 1-inch hole through the edge of the door at the marked location. This hole accommodates the bolt mechanism that throws out when you lock the deadbolt.

5. Ensuring the Door is Ready

  • Check for any wires or plumbing behind the drilling locations before drilling.
  • Clear any sawdust or debris from the holes.
  • Your door is now prepared for deadbolt installation according to the specific model’s instructions.

Installing Different Types of Deadbolts

How to Install a Single Cylinder Deadbolt

  1. Remove Existing Lock (if applicable): Use a screwdriver to remove the old lockset and strike plate.
  2. Measure and Mark: Measure the center distance (distance between the doorknob and the edge of the door) and bore a hole through the door with the appropriate size hole saw for the deadbolt.
  3. Drill for Latch Assembly: On the door edge, drill a 1-inch hole for the latch assembly. You might need to chisel a rectangular mortise for the latch mechanism to fit flush.
  4. Install Strike Plate: On the door frame, create a slot (mortise) for the strike plate to sit flush. Secure the strike plate with screws.
  5. Assemble the Deadbolt: Insert the deadbolt into the door and secure it with mounting screws.
  6. Test and Adjust: Test the lock to ensure smooth operation and make adjustments if needed.

How to Install a Double Cylinder Deadbolt

The process is similar to a single cylinder deadbolt, but you’ll need to drill a hole on the inside of the door for the interior cylinder and install the interior handle.

Safety Considerations for Double Cylinder Deadbolts:

  • Install them only on doors with another easy exit point (like windows) in case of emergencies.
  • Consider having a key hidden outside in a secure location for lockout situations.

How to Install Keyless and Electronic Deadbolts

These typically involve similar installation steps as single cylinder deadbolts for the mechanical parts. However, they’ll have additional instructions for:

  • Programming the Code: This involves following the manufacturer’s instructions specific to your model (e.g., Kwikset SmartCode 909). This will typically involve entering a master code into the keypad during installation.
  • Electronic/Smart Deadbolt Setup: These will have additional steps for connecting the deadbolt to your Wi-Fi network or a smart home hub using the manufacturer’s app.


  • Consult the deadbolt’s manual for specific, detailed instructions.
  • If you’re not comfortable with DIY installation, consider hiring a professional locksmith.

Special Door Types

1. Deadbolt Installation on a Metal Door:

  • Special Considerations and Tools: Metal is very strong, requiring specific drill bits and lubricants to prevent damage. Fire-rated doors may have additional installation requirements.
  • Tips for Drilling and Securing: Mark precisely and use a slow, steady drilling motion. Choose the right size and type of screws for proper anchoring in the metal frame.

2. Deadbolt Installation on a Fiberglass Door:

  • Specific Steps and Precautions: Fiberglass can crack easily. Pre-drilling pilot holes is crucial for clean installation. Consider using self-tapping screws for easier insertion.

3. Deadbolt Installation on a Hollow Core Door:

  • Reinforcement Techniques: Hollow core doors are less secure. Reinforce the door with a metal blocking plate behind the deadbolt for added strength.

4. Deadbolt Installation in a Mobile Home Door:

  • Unique Challenges and Solutions: Mobile home doors are often thinner and have limited space for deadbolt placement. Consider using a shorter deadbolt or a reinforcement kit specifically designed for mobile homes.

Additional Tips:

  • Always consult the deadbolt manufacturer’s instructions for specific recommendations.
  • Double-check measurements before drilling to ensure proper placement.
  • Use a level to ensure the deadbolt strike plate is aligned correctly on the door jamb.

By following these guidelines and considering the unique properties of each door type, you can successfully install a deadbolt and enhance the security of your home.

Replacing an Existing Deadbolt

Here’s a guide on how to replace a deadbolt lock, including removing the old one, installing the new one, and even replacing just the cylinder:

Removing the Old Deadbolt

  1. Gather your tools: You’ll typically need a Phillips head screwdriver, but some deadbolts might use a flathead screwdriver.
  2. Find the screws: Most deadbolts have two screws on the inside faceplate. Depending on the design, you might need to unlock the deadbolt to access the screws.
  3. Remove the screws and interior faceplate: Once you loosen the screws, you should be able to remove the interior faceplate.
  4. Take out the strike plate: The strike plate is the metal plate on the door jamb that the deadbolt latch goes into. It’s usually held on by two small screws. Remove these screws and the strike plate.
  5. Remove the exterior faceplate: With the interior faceplate and strike plate gone, you should be able to unscrew the exterior faceplate and take out the entire deadbolt assembly.

Installing the New Deadbolt

  1. Prepare the new deadbolt: If your new deadbolt is adjustable, you might need to adjust the length of the latch to fit the thickness of your door.
  2. Install the strike plate: Line up the new strike plate with the hole in the door jamb where the old one was. Secure it with the screws that came with the new deadbolt.
  3. Put the deadbolt through the door: Slide the deadbolt mechanism through the hole in your door.
  4. Attach the interior faceplate: Line up the interior faceplate with the deadbolt mechanism and secure it with the screws.
  5. Attach the exterior faceplate: Line up the exterior faceplate and screw it onto the deadbolt mechanism.

How to Replace a Deadbolt Lock Cylinder

If you only need to replace the cylinder and not the entire deadbolt mechanism, the process is a bit simpler. There’s usually a screw on the interior faceplate that holds the cylinder in. Once you remove that screw, the cylinder should slide out. The new cylinder should install in the same way.

Deadbolt Cost Breakdown

There are two main parts to consider when it comes to deadbolts:

  • The deadbolt itself: This can vary greatly depending on the type and features you choose.
  • Installation: You can install it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional.

Here’s a breakdown of each:

Price Range for Deadbolts

  • Standard Deadbolt: $20 – $70 (Single cylinder with a key on one side) – This is the most basic and affordable option.
  • Keyless Deadbolt: $50 – $200+ (Uses codes or fingerprint scanners) – Offers convenience but can be pricier.
  • Electronic Deadbolt: $100 – $350+ (Combines key and electronic functions) – Provides flexibility but is on the higher end.
  • Smart Deadbolt: $200 – $800+ (Connects to your smart home system) – Offers remote access and automation but comes with a premium price tag.

Deadbolt Installation Cost

  • Professional Installation: $40 – $200+ This covers the labor cost and may include additional fees.
  • DIY Installation: Free (if you do it yourself) You’ll need to buy any necessary tools.

Factors Affecting Professional Installation Cost

  • Lock type: Complex locks like smart deadbolts might cost more to install.
  • Door type: Non-standard doors might require adjustments or additional hardware.
  • Location: Rates can vary depending on your area.
  • Service call fee: Some locksmiths charge a base fee just for coming out.

DIY Cost Savings

If you’re handy and comfortable with DIY projects, installing a deadbolt yourself can save you money on labor costs. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase any necessary tools and ensure proper installation for optimal security.

Deadbolt Troubleshooting Guide

Even the best deadbolts can encounter problems. Here are some common issues and solutions:

  • Sticky or Stiff Deadbolt: This is often caused by dirt, dust, or grime buildup. Try lubricating the keyhole with a dry lubricant like graphite powder or a silicone-based spray (avoid WD-40 for long-term use). If that doesn’t work, you might need to disassemble and clean the lock mechanism (consult a professional if needed).
  • Key Won’t Turn: This could be due to a worn-out key, debris in the keyhole, or misaligned internal components. First, try cleaning the keyhole and using a spare key if available. If the issue persists, consult a locksmith for repairs or rekeying.
  • Deadbolt Not Locking/Unlocking: This might indicate a mechanical problem within the lock. Avoid forcing the mechanism as it can cause further damage. A professional locksmith can diagnose and fix the issue.

Deadbolt Maintenance and Security Tips

  • Regular Cleaning: Use compressed air to blow out dust from the keyhole. You can also wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth (avoid harsh chemicals).
  • Lubrication: Apply a dry lubricant like graphite powder to the key and keyhole periodically (avoid over-lubrication).
  • Key Management: Don’t leave spare keys hidden outside your home. Consider a key safe inside or a trusted neighbor.
  • Upgrade Your Strike Plate: Replace the standard metal strike plate with a reinforced security strike plate for added strength.
  • Door Reinforcement: Install a security door jamb reinforcement plate on the door frame to prevent forceful entry attempts.
  • Smart Deadbolt Security: For smart deadbolts, choose strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication for added security.

Remember, a well-maintained deadbolt is an essential part of your home security. By following these tips, you can keep your deadbolt functioning smoothly and your home safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

When choosing a deadbolt, consider security versus convenience. Single cylinder deadbolts are easiest to exit from inside but less secure. Double cylinders require a key from both sides, which is great for security but not ideal for emergencies. Keyless entry offers code access and eliminates carrying keys, with some integrating into smart home systems. Electronic and smart deadbolts add smartphone unlocking, entry/exit tracking, and remote locking for the ultimate convenience and security.

Common tools include screwdrivers, drill, level, hammer, tape measure, and safety glasses. Specific tools might be needed depending on your door material (wood chisel, metal cutting blade for jigsaw). Materials include screws, strike plate, door knob/handle, and optionally caulk or expanding foam.

The guide recommends measuring and marking the hole location on the door based on desired height and alignment with existing doorknob. You can use a template provided with the deadbolt or mark the holes directly, including a pilot hole, a main hole for the deadbolt body, and a hole on the door edge for the bolt mechanism. Ensure there are no wires or plumbing behind the drilling locations before proceeding.

Due to requiring a key to exit from inside, only install double cylinder deadbolts on doors with another easy exit point (like windows) and consider hiding a spare key outside in a secure location for emergencies.

Yes, the guide addresses installations on metal doors (requiring specific drill bits and lubricants), fiberglass doors (needing precise drilling and self-tapping screws), hollow core doors (needing reinforcement with a metal plate), and mobile home doors (using shorter deadbolts or reinforcement kits).

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