How to measure for a door handle

Updated February 21, 2017

Hardware companies manufacture a wide range of door handles, ranging from simple pull handles to more elaborate entrance handlesets. Handles designed for exterior use often have built-in locks along the top portion of the handle, while indoor units generally consist of only a handle. To select the right handle for your home, measure both your door and your existing handle or lockset carefully to ensure it will operate as intended.

Determine the height of your existing handle. These handles typically have two points where they are fastened to the door. The height of the handle is measured from the centerline of one hole to the centerline of the other hole. While the overall height of the actual handle may be important to you as a consumer, manufacturers list height as the distance between these two connection points.

Check the backset of your lock. For handles with locks or latches, the distance from the centerline of the latch to the edge of the door is called the "backset." The backset varies from 6 cm to 6.8 cm (2 3/8 to 2 3/4 inches), so it's important to choose a handle with the same backset so it will fit your door.

Measure the diameter of the top bore hole. This is the hole where the top of the handle is fastened to your door. For a handle with a built-in lock, this hole will typically vary from 5.3 to 6 cm (2 1/8 to 2 3/8 inches). Choose a handle that requires the same size bore hole so you will not have to find a way to fill in the space around your new handle. If your new handle requires a larger bore, you can easily cut the hole larger using a hole saw.

Examine the lower bore hole. Many handlesets require a smaller lower bore hole, which is designed to accommodate only a fastener, and not an entire lock or latch. Measure the diameter of this hole and choose a new handle that is the same size or larger to ensure it will fit your door.

Use your tape measure to check the thickness of your door. Many residential doors measure 6 cm (2 3/8 inches) thick, while commercial doors measure 6.8 cm (2 3/4 inches). Handlesets and locks are often designed to fit only a single door thickness. Choose a handle with fasteners and mechanisms designed to work with your door.

Locate the strike on your door frame. The strike is a metal plate that holds a latch or bolt in place to keep the door locked or shut. If you are replacing a non-latching handle with one that latches, choose a unit that you can line up with the existing strike. This will save you the effort of moving and reinstalling the strike when you install the handle.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.