Installing Door Hardware

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Oct 23, 2013

Most access installers find themselves in this sticky situation at some point: they need to install or reinstall a door lock. The problem? Door lock installation is a whole world unto itself, and seemingly is fraught with hundreds of different problems to address. When it comes to securing doors, the lock must work perfectly, or security and even life-safety could be at risk.

In this note, we walk though the installation of a lock on our test door. While it is specific to our door and our lock, the general installation process is helpful in many situations. We document that process below.

Installation Process

Our example will install a Mortise Lockset into our Test Door, but these same principles apply to the installation of every lock type. The steps to follow are:

  • Door/Frame Alignment
  • Lock Prep
  • Lock Installation
  • Function Checks and Final Adjustments

Performing the steps in order will result in locks installed with a high degree of reliability in the field. 

Lock Prep

The first step is to configure the lock for use in the door. This process varies according to specific locks, but the general procedure for every type is listed below:

  • Fixing Latch Position
  • Fine Tuning Lock Function
  • Handing

Fixing Latch Position: Because door swing differs in the field, the latchbolt frequently needs to be reoriented. This means the tapered side of the latch faces the strike, so the latch automatically retracts when the door closes. If not faced properly, the door likely will not close properly due to the latch interfering with the strike. Most locks feature a latch that can be twisted or installed to fit either direction.

To facilitate this situation, our mortise lock (like many) features a pivoting latch that was adjustable with a screwdriver. The image below reveals the importance of this step:

Fine Tuning Lock Function: Locks are available in over 30 different functions according to how/where they are used. For example, some locks automatically relock after they have been opened, for other the handle may retract the latch but NOT the bolt, and still others may keep one or both of the handles rigid when locked. This behavior can encompass up to twenty different settings configurable on the lock itself. The image below is an example of the settings available on our mortise lock, however there is no 'standard mix' of settings available on every lock:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The field reconfigurability of the lock depends largely on the specific model being installed, but mortise types usually are the most configurable while deadbolts and cylinder locksets have one default behavior.

Handing: This step determines which direction the handles must turn in order to unlock the door. (Catch our Door Swing Primer for more detail.) This direction changes based on the swing of the door, and it is an unnatural action to pull 'up' on a handle to open the door. 'Field handing' means that this direction can be reversed during installation, usually through toggling a restriction plate or changing out a spring. No special tools are required to perform this step, and the example below can be done with a screwdriver:

Lock Installation

Once the door has been checked, and the lock has been configured, it is ready to place into the door. Most types of locks are installed from the latch out - meaning that attention is first paid to the piece that interface between the door and frame that actually perform the locking. After those components are installed, the lockbody (the internal mechanism that retracts the bolts is installed onto the latch. From there, trim details like escutcheon plates or handles are added, finally culminating in the actual keyed lock body (if separate).

  • Latch Insertion
  • Lockbody Installation
  • Handles
  • Lock

While the installation details of our Mortise Lock differ from other types, the distributor's installation video of a cylindrical leverset is very similar:

Function Checks and Final Adjustments

The culmination of the install is confirming the lock works like it is designed: both lock/unlock the door, the latches fully retract, and there is no mechanical binding or interference between the door, frame, strike, and lock. The final function checks generally include:

  • The Door latches and opens properly
  • Deadbolt operation is crisp and positively secures door to frame
  • Key access works
  • The door gap is uniform and ~1/8” after lock installation.
  • The auxiliary deadlatch is held inside the case when the door is closed.

In most cases, if the lock is adjusted properly during installation, it will not drift in function during use. Periodic realignment of the hardware may be required after heavy use, but the door locks will behave mechanically the same if properly configured.

3 reports cite this report:

Top 5 Biggest Access Control Problems 2016 on Oct 06, 2016
New IPVM survey data reveals integrator's top 5 problems with electronic access control: High Cost Complex Doors and Hardware Lowball...
Most Needed Improvement: Access Control Software on Feb 16, 2015
100 integrators answered IPVM's question: "Which aspect/element of access control system technology (ie: credentials, locks, controllers,...
Top 5 Access Control Problems on Jul 21, 2014
Here's what integrators say are their 5 top problems with electronic access control: High cost End-user knowledge Lowball Competition Complex...
Comments (1) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Multipoint Door Lock Tutorial on Jan 23, 2020
Despite widespread use, locked doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and thousands can be misspent on locks that leave doors quite...
Low-Tech Access Control: Master Keying Explained on Jan 09, 2020
Mechanical keys are one of the most fundamental forms of access control. 'Master Keying' can allow individually different credential keys to...
Propped Doors Access Control Tutorial on Jan 07, 2020
Doors should keep 'bad guys' out, but a common access control problem is people propping doors open, preventing them from being secure. Even...
Glass Doors and Access Control Tutorial on Nov 21, 2019
One of the biggest access challenges are locking and securing glass doors. Unlike wood or steel doors that can be modified to work with...
The Access Control Codes Guide: IBC, NFPA 72, 80 & 101 on Nov 07, 2019
For access, there is one basic maxim: Life safety above all else. But how do you know if all applicable codes are being followed? While the...
Fail Safe vs. Fail Secure Tutorial on Oct 02, 2019
Few terms carry greater importance in access control than 'fail safe' and 'fail secure'. Access control professionals must know how these...
Access Control Mantraps Guide on Sep 26, 2019
One of access's primary goals is keeping people out of places they should not be, but slipping through open doors (ie: Tailgating) is often...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Door Closers Access Control Tutorial on May 02, 2019
Door Closers have an important job: automatically shut doors when they are opened, because an open door cannot control access. In this note, we...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Apr 17, 2019
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

FLIR New Coronavirus Prioritized Temperature Screening Camera Examined on Apr 03, 2020
FLIR has announced a new series of thermal cameras "prioritized for entities working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 virus", the A400/A700...
ADI Branch Burglary on Apr 03, 2020
A security systems distributor branch is an odd target for burglary but that happened this week at ADI's Memphis location. Vehicle Smash &...
YCombinator AI Startup Visual One Tested on Apr 02, 2020
Startup Visual One, backed by Silicon Valley's powerful Y Combinator, aims to be "Your 24/7 Watchman" with advanced analytics and object...
Free IPVM Memberships For The Unemployed on Apr 02, 2020
IPVM is giving 3-month free memberships (regular price $99) for the unemployed, no questions asked. To get it, just contact us, your request...
Dahua Faked Coronavirus Camera Marketing on Apr 01, 2020
Dahua has conducted a coronavirus camera global marketing campaign centered around a faked detection. Now, Dahua has expanded this to the USA,...
Video Surveillance Trends 101 on Apr 01, 2020
This report examines major industry factors and how they could impact video surveillance in the next 5 - 10 years. This is part of our Video...
USA's Seek Scan Thermal Temperature System Examined on Apr 01, 2020
This US company, Seek, located down the road from FLIR and founded by former FLIR employees is offering a thermal temperature system for the...
Terrible Convergint Coronavirus Thermal Camera Recommendation on Apr 01, 2020
A week after Convergint disclosed falling revenue, pay and job cuts, Convergint is touting 'extensive research' that is either grossly incompetent...
The IPVM New Products Online Show April 2020 Opens With 40+ Manufacturers on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce the first New Products Online show, with 40+ manufacturers, to be held April 14 to the 16th, free to IPVM members,...