How Long Should A Deadbolt Be?

If you're not yet familiar with deadbolts, you've come to the right page. We've done the research for you to help you make your homes secure. In particular, we asked our door experts how long they should be and how you can adjust their length to make them more effective.

The size of your deadbolt lock depends on the length of your door's backset. The most common lengths for residential doors are 2 3/8 inches and 2 3/4 inches. Most deadbolt locks come with an adjustable length. You just need to slide the deadbolt's metal sleeve away from the latch to make it longer.

Hang on because we'll tell you more about what we learned regarding this vital security measure. We'll share with you the different lengths of deadbolts, how you can adjust them, how to install one, and how to make the deadbolt hole deeper. Get ready!

A worker installing a deadbolt lock into the front door of a house, How Long Should A Deadbolt Be?

Are There Different Lengths Of Deadbolts?

We understand that buying a deadbolt can be quite confusing as you see the various selection in your local hardware store. In the US, deadbolts for residential doors often come in 2 lengths. It's either 2 3/8 inches or 2 3/4 inches. These are actually the measurement of a particular door's backset.

A backset is determined by measuring the distance between the door's edge and the hole's center where you're going to mount the deadbolt. While most backsets measure 2 3/8 inches or 2 3/4 inches, there are also doors with different lengths of backsets.

A worker installing a deadbolt lock on the front door

Some door hardware manufacturing companies make deadbolts with adjustable backset latches, while others aren't as flexible. Take note that if your deadbolt doesn't come with the right measurement, you won't be able to mount it properly. The latches may be too short or too long.

This is why it is necessary that you get the precise measurement of your door's backset so that you can get the perfect fit for your deadbolt.

Can You Adjust The Length Of A Deadbolt?

As mentioned above, some manufacturing companies make deadbolt locks that have an adjustable backset. You can adjust the length to either 2 3/4 inches or 2 3/8 inches, depending on the backset of your door. This is very convenient since these are the typical backset lengths for residential doors.

Now, here's how you can adjust the length of your deadbolt:

  1. Using a measuring tape, get the length of your door's backset. This equates to the distance from your door's edge to the hole's center where you will mount the deadbolt.
  2. Remember, this will only work if the backset is either 2 3/8 inches or 2 3/4 inches. You will also see these measurements indicated on the deadbolt's latch.
  3. Place the deadbolt's latch on the palm of your hand and look for the small dial on top or on the side of the bolt casing.
  4. You will also notice that there's an arrow that shows which side goes up. Make sure that your deadbolt latch is facing up.
  5. Use a screwdriver to turn the dial. This will cause the metal sleeve to loosen.
  6. Slide the deadbolt sleeve to the left (or toward the latch plate) if you need the shorter 2 3/8-inch backset length or slide it to the right (or away from the latch) if you need it to be longer at 2 3/4 inches.
  7. Wait until you hear the clicking sound to confirm that the metal sleeve is locked in its new position. You can also see the measurement on the latch.

That's it! Easy peasy, right? Now you can proceed to install the deadbolt as specified in the instructional guide on its packaging, and you'll be assured that it will fit in the latch appropriately.

Can You Install A Deadbolt Yourself?

A man installing a deadbolt lock on the front door

With over a million burglaries happening in the US each year, it is just right that you want to enhance your home's security. A deadbolt is a great addition to your exterior door. There are three types of deadbolt locks: single cylinder, double cylinder, and lockable thumbturn.

The single-cylinder deadbolts use a key on the outside and a thumbturn inside. The double cylinder deadbolt uses a key on both sides. Lastly, the lockable thumbturn needs a key to open it from the outside. The thumbturn inside also comes with a lock-in case you want to secure it too.

No matter what type of deadbolt lock you choose, the manner of installation is the same. Since it'll cost you up to $400 if you hire a professional, we suggest you do this yourself if you're the type of person that's comfortable with using tools.

Here are the tools and guide to installing a deadbolt.

Tools For The Job:

  • Keyhole saw
  • Electric drill
  • Spade bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Chisel
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Felt-tip pen


  1. Open your deadbolt kit and read the instructions. It also comes with a paper template that you should follow so that you can make the proper markings on the door before you get started.
  2. Using the keyhole saw, drill the face hole on the door. Go halfway on one side then drill from the other side to avoid splintering the wood.
  3. For the edge hole, you need to use the spade bit for drilling.
  4. Mark the outline of the deadbolt on the edge hole using a pencil.
  5. Use a chisel to create a groove for the deadbolt.
  6. Screw the deadbolt to the edge of the door.
  7. Separate the 2 halves of the lockset.
  8. Screw the one with the keyed cylinder on the exterior side.
  9. Fit the other half with the thumbturn lock through the pin.
  10. Push the 2 halves together and test if the lock will work.
  11. If the lock works, you can screw the halves together to secure them in place.
  12. Mark the end of the deadbolt with a felt-tip pen.
  13. Close the door. The bolt should leave a mark on the door jam.
  14. Get the strike plate and position it so that the mark is at the center.
  15. Draw the outline of the strike plate.
  16. Drill a 1-inch hole using the spade bit. It should also be 1-inch deep.
  17. Using your chisel, cut a mortise for the strike plate.
  18. Drill holes for the screws.
  19. Secure the strike plate in place using the screws that came with the kit.
  20. Close the door and test the newly installed deadbolt. Make sure that the bolt can be fully extended into the hole. Done!

Just a reminder. If you're not confident about your ability, better entrust this job to the experts to ensure that it's done properly and safely.

How Do I Make My Deadbolt Hole Deeper?

A worker using a portable drill in installing the deadbolt lock

The depth of the hole for your deadbolt lock should be at least 1 inch deep. This should make it harder for burglars to break into your home's security.

However, there are some instances when the deadbolt cannot be fully extended into the frame of the door because the hole isn't deep enough. If this is the case, you need to make the hole deeper.

Otherwise, intruders can easily barge into your home because they won't even need a key to open the bolt. This defeats the whole purpose of your deadbolt lock in the first place.

The good thing is, it is quite easy to deepen the hole as long as you've got the right tools and skills. Here's what you need to do.

Tools For The Job:

  • An electric drill
  • A spade bit
  • Screwdriver


  1. Remove the strike plate from the door frame using your screwdriver. Do not attempt to begin digging into the hole with the strike plate still on the door frame as it could damage your door.
  2. Attach the spade bit to your electric drill.
  3. Deepen the hole in the door frame by 1/4 inch.
  4. You can test the latch mechanism of the deadbolt after this to check if the hole is deep enough. You'll know it's the perfect fit when the twist knob stops in the same position when you open and close the door.
  5. If it still doesn't extend fully, deepen the hole by another 1/4 inch. Then test again.
  6. If the latch now fits perfectly in the hole, reinstall the strike plate on the door frame.
  7. Test again if the bolt can be fully extended into the hole with the strike plate on. If not, make sure that the strike plate is in its proper position so that it won't be a hindrance to the bolt's locking mechanism.

That's how you deepen the hole for your deadbolt. Simple enough, right?

Final Thoughts

Don't let your home be an easy target for burglars and intruders. Enhance your security with a deadbolt lock but make sure you get one that fits your door perfectly so that it'll be effective in doing its job.

For more related reading regarding deadbolts, you can check out these posts:

Do Deadbolt Locks Come With Keys?

How Much Does A Deadbolt Cost?

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