How to change a door handle.

In this guide, we are going to show you how to change a door handle.

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that this isn’t a difficult job to do.

In other words, you do not need to be a DIY guru in order to replace a door handle. It is actually a pretty simple task.

What tools do I need?

To replace an interior door handle, you will need the following:

  1. The new door handle, obviously.
  2. A Phillips screwdriver or a cordless drill with a Phillips screwdriver bit.
  3. A door stopper. This is useful for keeping the door still and preventing it from closing while the handles are off.

If you can’t see any holes or screws on your door handle, then it means that they are probably being obscured by a decorative plate.

If this is the case, then you will need a flat-head screwdriver in order to pop the plate off.

Typically, on plated door handles, you will find a small notch or indentation at the base or on the side. This notch can be used to pry the cover off.

For reasons that we will explain further down, a set of pliers or a pair of scissors might come in handy as well.

The door handle that we will be replacing.

This is the door handle that we will be replacing. As you can see, it is a bronze-looking handle that is pretty scratched and worn.

These are extremely common in Irish houses that were constructed during the 1990s and 2000s.

Old door handle

This is probably about fifteen years old.

The new door handle.

We purchased these black Basta “Belair” door handles at our local hardware store. They came with screw fixings and a new latch mechanism.

Basta Belair Door Handles

1. Unscrew the old handles and remove them.

In the photograph below, you can see that the handle is fixed to the door using Phillips screws.

Phillips screw

You will need to start off by removing all of these screws.

In this case, we had a screw in each corner.


Remove the screws on both sides and the handles should come off pretty easily.

Do not throw anything away until you have finished the job.

That way, if something doesn’t work or your new set doesn’t fit, you will be able to put the old ones back on.

Removed handles

Neatly place the old set and their fittings to one side.

After you remove the handles, you will see a small metal bar protruding out of the hole in the door.

This metal bar is a part of the latch mechanism, and it is commonly referred to as a spindle.

Door handle spindle

Above, you can see two holes. The top hole contains the spindle. The bottom hole is for the key. You will also notice that an old paint job exists underneath. Mostly likely, this was a white gloss paint that turned yellow over time.

This spindle allows the door handles to open and close the door, so try not to make the mistake of taking it out and forgetting about it.

If you have a set of “double doors”, then it is likely that one of the doors in the pair will not have a latch mechanism or a spindle.

In those cases, the handle on the second double door is there for decorative reasons only.

2. Make sure that the spindle lines up on each side.

In my case, a new spindle came with the Basta “Belair” door handles.

However, in most cases, you will be able to re-use the existing one. We chose to replace the current spindle with one of the new spindles.

New spindle

The most important thing to remember here is that the spindle needs to be pretty even on both sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect or anything.

However, if it is pushed out too far to either side, then one of your door handles will not be able to latch onto the spindle and turn it.

If that happens, then it will not be able to open or close the door.

3. Put your new door handles on.

Now is the time to place both of your new door handles onto the spindle on either side. Do not insert or tighten any screws just yet.

Just make sure that you can place them on the spindle.

New handle

Remember how we told you to keep your old set?

Well, it’s usually at this stage that you’ll figure out whether or not the new ones are too small to cover up an old paint job or if they’re obscuring the key lock too much.

Try positioning them and moving them about so that you can see how they will look once you’ve screwed them onto the door. In our case, the handles fit “just right” and we had millimetres to spare.

If an old paint job is still showing on yours, you might want to repaint that section and let it dry before you put the new handles on. Nobody wants to see a small outline of old paint.

4. Use the door stop if you have it.

Attempting to put new handles on a door that keeps swinging back and forth can be frustrating. Trust us, we know.

If you have a door stop, now is the time to put it down. This will also help to prevent a situation where the door slams shut and locks you inside of the room.

5. Make sure that the new handles turn the latch.

Before you insert any screws, you should always make sure that both handles are able to turn the latch on the door.

If one of them does not turn the latch, then it probably means that the spindle has been pushed too far into the other side. That, or the spindle you’re using doesn’t fit into your new handles.

6. Insert the screws and tighten them.

Once you are happy that the new handles are turning the latch, you can insert your screws and slightly tighten them.

Note that you shouldn’t fully tighten your screws until you have all of them slightly screwed in. If you screw the first one in too tight, it can be difficult to reposition the handle afterwards.

This can be a pain if you are trying to make it line up flush with the side of the door.

Belair Basta

Note that I usually do it in this order.

  1. I slightly screw in one of the top screws.
  2. Then, I position the handle until it is flush with the door.
  3. When I am happy that it is reasonably parallel, I slightly screw in one of the bottom screws. In the case above, the Basta “Belair” handles only have one hole at the bottom.
  4. I screw in the second screw at the top.
  5. Once I am happy that the new handle is positioned properly, I tighten all of the screws.

What are the pliers for?

Remember how we said that a set of pliers or a pair of scissors might come in handy?

Well, in some cases, you’ll find that you accidentally end up pushing the spindle too far into the handle that has already been fixed to the other side of the door.

If this happens, then you can use the pliers to pull the spindle back out.

Once the first handle has been securely fitted to the door, repeat the exact same steps for the handle on the other side.

Replacing a door handle.

If you are replacing the door handles on a set of double doors, make sure that both sets of handles are vertically aligned with each other before you screw them in.

Seeing that one door handle is higher than the other will ruin your day.

And that’s it. Hopefully, you were able to replace your door handles without any major issues.

This is one of those small DIY jobs that is relatively easy to do. However, it can still take a little bit of practice to get it “just right”.