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How to Attach Handles to Hollow Doors

The job of adding door handles to a door is typically quite a simple one, however, other factors can complicate things, such as whether you're dealing with a door that's hollow.

Hollow doors are widely found throughout homes in the UK, largely due to the fact that housing developers use them because of their comparatively low cost.

Like many DIY jobs, it's one that can look quite daunting at the outset to someone who doesn't have a lot of handyman experience.

So, come with us now as we offer step-by-step instructions on how it's done, so you can adorn your interior door with top-quality hardware.

What Is a Hollow Core Door?

Installed on the interior of most mid-priced homes in the UK, hollow doors are exactly what they sound like - completely hollow doors that have the appearance of solid wood doors.

If you're not sure whether you have a hollow door or not, there's an easy way to tell. Tap the door with your knuckle and if there's an echo, it's hollow.

Another way to tell is the weight of the door. Even with all the wood screws, door locks, and door handles attached, a door that's hollow will be a lot lighter than a solid one.

What's Inside Your Average Hollow Door?

Most often inside interior doors of this kind, you'll find corrugated cardboard in a honeycomb design in order to provide the door with rigidity.

This is then covered in foil or vinyl, with a sheet of plywood placed over the top. Its latch stile will often also contain a lock block - which is a solid block of wood to provide an area for mounting latches, locks, and handles.

This lock block is often quite small in order to save on manufacturing costs. You may find that if it's been incorrectly hung on the hinge side, you may not find a lock block in which to mount your door handles.

It's vital to ensure you have a lock block to attach your door handle to, as otherwise, the fixing screws may not secure properly. In this case, it puts a strain on the latch or lock follower and risks damage.

In order to provide robustness to your door handle, you can use match sticks, plugs, and fillers to provide a back fixing that gives your screws something to bite on.

How to Fit Door Handles to a New Hollow Interior Door

Door hardware

So, when you're installing door handles to a brand new door that you know to be hollow, you first need to choose the right kind of handle. Amongst the myriad of choices you'll find in the Hiatt online store, you'll see:

Whether you choose lever handles, door knobs or pull handles is entirely your call, and will be essentially determined by the colour scheme and purpose of the door.

What tools do you need?


The equipment you'll be using includes pretty standard stuff when it comes to any DIY job, with the following needing to be in your possession:

  • A pencil

  • A screwdriver set

  • Tape measure

  • A rubber mallet

  • Power drill & drill bits

  • A door wedge

  • Safety goggles and face mask (optional)

Step #1 - Measuring Up Your Interior Door

If you have no existing screw holes to guide you - which won't with a new door - you'll need to measure up where to locate your door handles on the door face, after wedging the door in a fixed position to make it easier to work on.

Generally speaking, the height of your door handles should be 990 mm up from the floor. So, measure from the ground and mark the area over the lock block you're going to be installing your door handles.

You can check you're over the right area by again tapping the door, which should have a different sound over the solid area.

Step #2 - Drilling Your Pilot Holes

drilling holes

The next part of the job is drilling out the required pilot holes into which your wood screws and spindle are going to go. Obviously, you should be checking your door handle instructions to discover how big your faceplate and handle fixing screws need to be.

After repeating the same action on each side of the door, you should then double check that both are level on both door faces.

Next, it's time to chisel out space inside the lock block for your door latch, which will require 10-15 minutes and quite a bit of elbow grease!

Step #3 - Chiselling Out The Faceplate

chiselling out the face plate

Once you're happy that your screw holes are prepared as per step 2, it's time to get your chisel out in order to carve out the door's leading edge to make space for the faceplate and door latch.

The easiest way to get the right shape for your cut-out is by placing the faceplate against the door and tracing around it with your pencil.

It's worth reiterating that you should follow the specific installation instructions for your door handles before chiseling, as there is no uniform size of door hardware. You don't want to chisel too deep or you risk having to get new handles or even a new door.

Step #4 - Fitting the Faceplate

fitting a face plate

We're getting closer now to successfully installing your door handles to your new hollow core door, as it's time to fit the faceplate with the two screws that come with the hardware.

If fitted correctly, both pilot holes will be the same size and your screws will line up properly and your spindle will fit neatly into the 25 mm spade holes you made earlier.

Hopefully, by this point, everything has fitted rather nicely, taking us neatly to the last step in the process - actually attaching the handles themselves.

Step #5 - Attaching Your Handles

attaching a door knob

If you've done everything right, all the holes you've made should allow you to push the handles' spindle through easily to the opposite side of the door.

All that's left to do is fit the door handles onto each end of the spindle and then screw everything into place. Everything should be aligned perfectly both horizontally and vertically, and give you a handle that operates the door latch.

Of course, you shouldn't forget that you need to also attach the strike plate to the door frame, so as to give something for the latch to fit into. This is a relatively easy step that just includes marking whether the latch or lock hits the frame.

Again, you'll need to chisel out a small section of the door frame to accommodate the latch and then screw the strike plate firmly into place. Once everything meets up, you're pretty much done!

Even The Trickiest DIY Jobs Are Easier With a Bit of Know-how

As we can see, attaching handles to doors that have a hollow centre isn't that much more difficult than doing so on solid doors - it just requires that you understand where the lock block is and that attaching hardware anywhere else is going to lead to problems.

So, if you're about to tackle this very job, we hope that our brief guide makes the job that bit easier for you. Just remember to take a look at our wide range of interior door handles available in our store that can be shipped to you free the next day for orders over £65.