How do I change the lock on the front door?
April 30, 2014 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I want to change our apartment's doorknob and lock to a "night latch" (I believe is the term). I'm fairly confident I have the lock I'd like. What do I do now?

I am an anxious person, and I live with a forgetful person, and we only have the one door for the apartment. The current configuration is one deadbolt and one standard doorknob with a lock on the outside and a... turning-thing on the inside.

(Pardon the lack of words. It's time for dinner.)

I want a doorknob with an automatic latch. I believe I've found one:

Nu-set KA Heavy Duty Night Latch

a] Is that actually what I want?

b] What, uh. What would I do next, given that I have little in the way of hardware installation skills? Call a locksmith?
posted by XtinaS to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
The first thing you do is talk to your landlord. As a renter you probably don't have carte blanche to make changes without permission.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:49 PM on April 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

On the installation front: Assuming you rent, you will probably have to get your landlord's permission (since it's a fairly obvious change to the property). I added a deadbolt to my back door, and had to get a signed letter from the landlord giving me permission to do so. My local locksmiths wouldn't do work on the door without that letter.

If you're not handy, a locksmith is definitely the way to go, although they will be expensive. Call a couple places to get a quote, for sure. The pricing will depend on whether they are replacing an existing lock or drilling out a new hole, and on what kind of door you have (metal vs. wood vs. fiberglass), so make sure you know that information before you call.

Your landlord may also want you to use the existing key (some locks can be rekeyed to match your existing locks, which is what I had done). You'd have to ask the locksmith if this is possible with your chosen lock.

I can't speak to whether this lock is what you want -- however, I would note that I have a similar (unused, painted over) lockset on a bedroom door in my apartment, and I repeatedly bumped my upper arm and bruised it on the thingy the lock latches into on the doorframe while walking through. Locks that latch into something sticking out from the doorframe are a great way to get bruised. (Admittedly, I am clumsy.) Also, a lock that is designed to latch into the frame of the door will generally be more secure than one bolted to the outside of the doorframe.
posted by pie ninja at 5:50 PM on April 30, 2014

Looking at the parts, I think the trickiest bit will be drilling a hole through the door to accommodate the exterior keyway, plus some other holes to screw the lock and catch into the door and frame respectively.

So you'll need a drill and either a spade bit or a hole saw (which is just that - a saw for cutting holes that is attached to a power drill).

My advice would be to go and check out the lock selection at the closest hardware or big-box DIY store. See if one of the folks there will let you open one up to see the installation instructions, most of which will include a template that you tape onto the door to guide where you'll be drilling. If you go over the instructions and just don't want to bother with it, you could call a locksmith or one of those rent-a-handyman places. Installing it shouldn't take more than a half-hour or so.

And yeah, check with the landlord. Most places I've rented have included a thing in the lease about the landlord needing to be able to access the place when I'm not there for notified maintenance and so on.
posted by jquinby at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2014

You may already have considered this, but with this type of lock it is extremely easy to accidentally lock yourself out, if you forget your keys. Again and again…
posted by BillMcMurdo at 7:15 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

The "deadlock" feature doesn't sound like it would allow for emergency access. If the bolt is closed and the button engaged, the key won't open the latch. This could be an issue with the landlord.

Also, there's a downside to automatically locking main doors (and, to a lesser extent, privacy doorknobs on main doors): tenants lock themselves out all the time, at all hours. They accidentally engage the knob's lock when going to the laundry room, etc, etc... We've had to move away from having privacy/lockable knobs as the default in our buildings because of it. When some tenants have insisted that they really, really, really want a lockable knob, they've had to agree in writing to cover costs associated with lock-outs before the knob gets swapped out.

That same button supposedly prevents lock-outs if you engage it with the bolt open, but you'd have to remember to use it if your keys aren't in your hands.

So, get permission. Be prepared to possibly have to agree to pay for lock-out calls caused by the latch.
posted by CKmtl at 7:29 PM on April 30, 2014

a] Is that actually what I want?

Only until the door closes behind you, and you realize your keys are still inside.
posted by Rash at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2014

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