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How to change a door handle

Man Changes Door Handle

Are your doors looking a little shabby? Internal doors can have a huge role in the overall look of your home, and they’re worth some attention to ensure they look their best. One easy way to switch up the look and feel of a space is by changing up  your door’s hardware, but how do you swap it out for a more favourable aesthetic? Here’s our DIY guide on how to change a door handle to help. 

Disclaimer: If your home is rented, it’s always advisable to check with your landlord or housing provider before proceeding with the following steps. If you rent your home from Places for People, you can contact us on 01772 667002 in England and Wales or 0131 657 0600 in Scotland. Alternatively, you can email us at or make a repair request through your online account.   

Jump to:
Types of door handles
How to fix a broken door handle
How to replace a door handle

Types of door handles

When replacing your door’s hardware, there are all kinds of different handles available to choose from. So, should you replace your door handles with knobs or stick to a more classic feel? The possibilities are endless, but here are just a few of the most common and popular options available. 

Door knobs

Typically round in shape, door knobs have been used for hundreds of years. Featuring small, round, hexagonal, or square handles, they are used to open latches by turning and can easily be paired with locks for extra security. From vintage styles to more modern options, the humble door knob comes in a range of designs to suit any environment. 

Pull handles

Usually fitted to the outside doors and used to open entries that don’t have or need a latch, pull handles are ideal for internal doors that swing open and are available in different shapes, sizes, and finishes. On the other hand, flush pull handles are installed on both sides of the door to help open and close sliding doors. They can also be paired with locks for extra security. 

Lever handles

Lever handles are the most common type of door handles in the home. They feature either a flat plate or a round with a lever that comes out parallel to the door face, which is used to turn the mechanism inside to open the latch. Both can also be paired with locks for extra security. 

How to fix a broken door handle

Fixing A Door Handle

Sometimes you don’t need a brand new set of door handles, all you need is a refresh to your own set. Here’s our handy guide to fixing a broken door handle. 

You will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • New door knob or handle

Planning and preparation

If you’re concerned about the drill or screwdriver slipping while removing the screws from the door handle, we recommend placing masking tape over your door handle panels and handle to prevent scratches.

Step 1: Check everything is working 

Start by checking the exterior of the handles and latch mechanisms are moving as they should, without anything affecting it from outside the door. 

Step 2: Remove the screws 

If you can’t find any issues with the exterior of the mechanism, start carefully removing the screws from both door handles with either a power drill or screwdriver, then slide the spindle out from the locking mechanism.  

Top tip: Use a doorstop to brace the open door to make it easier to unscrew the door handle.

Step 3: Check the locking mechanism

Once the spindle has been removed, check the locking mechanism for any blockages or issues. If needed, use a screwdriver to remove debris. Now, unscrew the latch mechanism and remove it from the door. 

Step 4: Lubricate the mechanism 

Spray a lubricant, like WD-40, on the latch mechanism and interior of the handles to keep them moving smoothly. Lubricating them will help clean away any dust and debris while ensuring everything moves smoothly. 

Step 5: Reassemble the door handle

It's time to rebuild your handle once you've removed debris and lubricated your latch mechanism. Re-insert the mechanism and screw it back in place. Then slide the spindle back in and fix the door handles back onto the door and secure them with the screws. 

That's it – you're all done! 

How to replace a door handle

Removing A Door Handle

Replacing a door handle with a new one follows many of the same steps as fixing a broken handle. Read our full step-by-step guide below to find out how. 

You will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Sanding paper
  • New door knob or handle

Step 1: Remove the old door handle

To begin, wedge your door open with a door stop to avoid it closing or swinging around. You then need to find the screws holding the current handle in place. These will typically be found on the cover plate or the side of the handle. Locate the screws and undo them using the drill or screwdriver. 

Step 2: Remove the plate and latch

A small slot along one edge of the face place should be narrow enough for a screwdriver. To remove the plate, insert your screwdriver into the slot and twist it to pop off the surface to expose the hole which houses the spindle and latch. Remove the screws underneath the plate and unscrew the old latch, sliding it out. Finally, unscrew the strike plate from the narrow edge of the door frame. 

Step 3: Check the backset 

You might wonder what the backset is. The simple answer is that it’s the distance from the centre of the big hole where the spindle goes to the edge of the door. 

Measure this distance to check if your chosen replacement handle or knob will work with your existing backset. 

The most common backset size in the UK is 44.5mm and is ideal for lever handles. However, if you’re considering changing to a door knob, you will want to make sure that the backset is longer to prevent your knuckles from grazing the doorframe. A backset of 57mm is popular for these occasions. 

Step 4: Install your new door handle

Next, pop the new latch into the edge of the door, and screw it into place by hand before tightening it with a drill. Insert half of the knob or handle with the spindle attached to the door first, sliding the spindle into the latch mechanism. Follow this up by moving the remaining half into place before screwing everything together securely. 

Step 5: Fill any gaps

After installing your new handle, you may find that your door has some gaps or imperfections, especially if the backset length has been altered a lot. Fill any gaps and holes with wood filler and let it dry before carefully sanding it down and adding paint to match the rest of the door. 

Once everything looks neat, replace the strike plate on the edge of the door, and you’re all done!