How to Install a Peephole

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Estimated Time: 
1-2 Hours
Peep This

phtop

It's the window on the world that makes us feel safe: a peephole. Considering that they are incredibly inexpensive and easy to install, there is no good reason not to have this simplest of security tools provide you with peace of mind the next time you hear knocking.

It's the window on the world that makes us feel safe: a peephole. Considering that they are incredibly inexpensive and easy to install, there is no good reason not to have this simplest of security tools provide you with peace of mind the next time you hear knocking.

PLANNING PHASE

peephole1 Photo courtesy of ImprovementDirect.com

Match your handleset, why not?
Peepholes (aka door viewers) are cheap: a handsome model runs only a few dollars. It's simple and quick to install, though you'll want to be exact about measuring and placing it and careful as you drill through your existing door.

 

peephole2 Photo courtesy of ImprovementDirect.com. Adjustable thickness peephole shown.

How thick is your door?
The first step is to measure the thickness of your door. Most doors nowadays are a standard 1" thick, but older doors can vary in width. Even if your door is older than you are, you should be able to find a peephole that fits.

 

 peephole3peephole4Photos courtesy of DavStar Safety & Security.

Can you really see what's outside your door?
Believe it or not, peepholes come in differing ranges of view, achieved through variations of a fisheye lense. Some are designed to let you see the entire visitor; others just let you see them from the waist up. What you decide depends on what makes you feel safest.

 

peephole5 Go against the flow
Most of us imagine peepholes as being placed directly in the center of the door, but you don't have to install it this way. If the lighting or view on your porch is better from a certain angle, feel free to place the peephole in a place where get the clearest view of the visitor.

 

peephole6 How high is high enough?
Arguably the most important aspect of the peephole is the height at which it's placed. A peephole that is too high will not benefit kids when they are home alone. When taking measurements, make sure that all members of the family can easily peer out.

 

Tools

Tool Name Most Popular
Brands
Size Power Cost
Drill Makita, Ryobi, Skil, DeWalt N/A 18V $50-200
Small drill bit DeWalt 1/8" to 3/16" N/A $1-4
Spade bit DeWalt 1"—but size to your particular peephole N/A $3-8
Tape measure Stanley, Black and Decker 25' N/A $5-20
Screwdriver Husky, Stanley If necessary, size to fit your particular peephole N/A $5-10

Materials & Supplies

Material Quantity Size Cost
Peephole 1/door Depends on door thickness $5-20
Pencil 1 N/A $.50
Protective eyewear 1 pair To fit you personally $8-20

EXECUTION PHASE

Prep

peephole7 Locate a spot that works for you
If you want the peephole at the center of the door, find the spot using your tape measure. Mark this spot, on the inside of the door, with a pencil.

 

Safety Tip: Remember to don protective eyewear while you are drilling.

Project Steps

Step 1

Pilot your first hole

peepholestep1 

To prevent splitting the door's wood you'll want to drill a pilot hole at the place you've marked. Use a small drill bit for this—between 1/8" to 3/16". Keep working that drill until you have drilled through the entire door.

Step 2

Call a spade a spade

peepholes2 Check the manufacturer's instructions for the exact size of the drill bit needed to widen the hole large enough to accommodate the peephole. Called a spade or paddle bit, these are larger than your average bits. Adding one to your toolbox is a good idea for future projects, anyway.

Step 3

The final drilling

peepholes3 Using your power drill equipped with the appropriate bit, start to drill through the door from inside to out, using your pilot hole as your guide. Only drill through half of the door, though. Once you think you've reached the halfway point, gently pry the drill from the door and resume drilling from the other side until you have made a bigger hole.

Jane Tip: Drilling through the door one half at a time prevents splintering. Remember to take your time and go slowly. Keep your bit perpendicular to the door as you drill—a crooked peephole will look sloppy! Doors are not cheap.

Step 4

Peep from the inside out

peepholestep4 Now you can insert the peephole. Make sure you put it in the right way and it magnifies from the inside out. Once it's in, hand-tighten from both sides of the door. Depending on what kind of peephole you have purchased, you may need to use a screwdriver to tighten the peephole in place.

The project costs just dollars and probably won't take more than an hour or two of your time. The most important part is ensuring that you don't split the door, so remember to be gentle. As we all know, peace of mind is priceless, and you don't ever have to answer the door without knowing who's on the other side of it.

Mom probably told you not to open to door for strangers. Now you can actually heed the advice!

Related articles:
Keep Safe with Outdoor Lighting
Turn Your House into a Hazard-Free Haven
Protect Yourself from Head to Toe
How To Install Pathway Lights

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2 comments

7
Mar

what if you have a metal door?
21
May

If you have a metal door, there are metal drill bits that you can use to drill your holes, just ask for them at the home improvment store. Good luck and stay safe!