How to Install a Deadbolt? (Step-By-Step Tutorial)

How many layers of security does your home have? Research of break-in attempts from around the world suggests that people who invest in high-end security systems are 300% less vulnerable to burglaries that those who don’t. But you already knew that fact.

What you might not know is how far deadbolts go in making your house safe. These locks give your front door the ultimate strength in the face of physical force attacks — and their ability to hold on for long increases the chances of the potential intruder being spotted.

Having stated its benefits, let’s look at how to install a deadbolt on a metal door:

Before you install a deadbolt

Here’s what you need to do:

Remove the old deadbolt

Do you already have a deadbolt on your metal door? Your presence here leads us to the conclusion that it is already past its expiry date. That is why we’re going to take a minor detour here to guide you on how to remove the old deadbolt. After this we’ll turn our attention to installing the newer model.

Step 1: Remove its screws and interior faceplate

Remove its screws and interior faceplate

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the home-facing side of your deadbolt. You can find the screws on the “faceplate” of the deadbolt. Gently pull out the faceplate after you have taken out the screws.

Step 2: Pull out the exterior faceplate

Pull out the exterior faceplate

After you have removed the interior faceplate, go to the outside-facing side of the door. There you’ll encounter another faceplate with or without screws. Take it off as well.

Step 3: Remove the screws of the set plate

Remove the screws of the set plate

The set plate is that part of the door from where the ‘lock’ comes in and goes out. It is visible on the side of the door and is connected to the frame with two screws. Unscrew them both.

Step 4: Remove the set plate and bolt

Remove the set plate and bolt

In the majority of the cases, both the set plate and the bolt (piece of metal in the middle of the deadbolt), are one-piece. This means that once you unscrew the set plate, you can pull both out at the same time.

Some deadbolts do not have their face plate and bolt in one piece. They require you to unscrew and pull out both the parts separately.

Purchase a new deadbolt

Buying a new deadbolt is easier said than done. You have to consider the size of your existing deadbolt, the contours of the key using which you opened/closed it, and many other factors before making the purchase. Or else you may end up with a lock that might not fit on your door.

To save yourself from this unpalatable scenario, follow these steps:

Step 1: Measure the size of your lock

Measure the size of your lock

There are three measurements that you need to note down before purchasing a new deadbolt. The first is the size of the hole where the lock would go. Use a tape measure for this task.

Then, measure the distance between the hole and the door frame, also known as “setback”. The final measurement that you ought to take down is the door’s thickness.

Step 2: Consult a locksmith

Consult a locksmith

Take the measurements you noted in the previous step as well as the old deadbolt with you to an expert locksmith. This would help them in guiding the model that is compatible with your door.

Make sure your new deadbolt has a metal strike plate and the screws that will connect it to the door should at least be three inches long. This will ensure that the door remains sturdy.

How to Install a Deadbolt

Follow these instructions to install a deadbolt on a metal door:

What you’ll need?

  • Deadbolt lock
  • Drill bits
  • Hole Saw
  • Drill
  • Driver Bits
  • Spade Bits
  • Wood Chisel

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Take help from the manufacturer’s template

Take help from the manufacturer’s template

Most deadbolt manufacturers supply their product with a reference template. It contains all the necessary information to help you install the deadbolt. Place it on the door and make sure that the hole of the deadbolt is 6’’ above the doorknob. The template will also contain reference points. Mark them with an awl.

Step 2: Drill a hole for the deadbolt

Drill a hole for the deadbolt

Drill a hole on the reference points you marked from the template. Continue cutting as long as the pilot bit on the hole saw gets out on the door’s other side. You should only stop drilling when the hole saw has penetrated the door’s exterior face.

Step 3: Drill a hole through the edge of the door

Drill a hole through the edge of the door

Use a 7/8’’ drill bit to drill a hole through the side of the door for the deadbolt.

Step 4: Recess the area around the faceplate

Recess the area around the faceplate

Use your one hand to manually fit the deadbolt into the hole. Trace the area around the faceplate with the other hand and mortise it using a wood chisel. This will make sure that this area is level with the rest of the door. Use your regular chisel for flat surface and a rounded chisel to mortise the corners.

Step 5: Install the bolt on the door

Install the bolt on the door

Once you’re done mortising the area around the faceplate, install the bolt on the door by securing its screws to the frame. Then, dry-fit the thumb-turn plate and cylinder. This will allow you to gauge how both the pieces will fit together.

Afterward, fit the exterior side on the door and make sure its writing isn’t loose. Follow it up by setting the interior piece against the door. Align the screw holes against the mounting holes and use a screwdriver to tighten the screws.

Final Step: Secure the strike plate

Secure the strike plate

Use paint or lipstick to pinpoint the end of the bolt. Then, shut the door and turn the deadbolt several times. This will mark the two spot where the deadbolt comes into connect with the doorframe. Use a 7/8’’ spade bit to drill holes in both the spots.

Afterward, just as you had done above, mortise the area around the holes with a chisel. Place the strike plate above the holes, align its screw holes against the drilled holes, and tighten the screws with a screwdriver.


Provided you take the security of your home and its residents seriously, you shouldn’t rely on a spring-loaded doorknob. Deadbolt locks are much safer and, as we stated at the start, increase the time that an intruder would require to break-into them. The fact that they can only be opened with a key from either side further raises the security level that they provide.

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