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How To Reverse A Door Lever Handle

When installing some door lever locksets, you have to make sure that the handles are positioned correctly. After you install it, the key hole will be on the outside, and the lever handles will point toward the center. Buying the wrong lockset will make it impossible to install it correctly on your door.

Some manufacturers solve this problem by making their door handles reversible. This means that they can be reversed to fit any door, regardless of which side they are on. In this blog, the team at Access Residential Hardware outlines how to reverse a door lever handle in a few easy steps.

Reversing Door Levers With a Metal Release Tab


  • Flat-head screwdriver

Step #1: Set the Lock Correctly

To reverse the door levers, set the lock button 45 degrees between the "lock" and "unlock" positions. To remove and reverse the levers, the lock must be in this position.

Step #2: Remove the Levers

Depress the tab on the exterior trim with a flat-head screwdriver. This will release a catch, enabling you to remove the exterior lever by pulling away from the door. To remove the interior lever, repeat the procedure, making sure the lock is still in its proper location.

Step #3: Reverse the Levers

Put the interior lever on the outside and the exterior lever on the inside, essentially swapping their original positions. After depressing the metal tab, ‘snap’ the door levers into place over the tab.

Step #4: Install the Strike Plate

Place the strike plate back in its original position on the door and use a screwdriver to secure it in place.

Reversing Door Levers With a Release Slot


  • Thick pin or unfolded paper clip (Some locksets come with a pin tool for easier lever removal. You can use a thick paperclip, small pick, or even a hex key if you don't have one. The procedure remains the same no matter what you use.)

Step #1: Remove the Levers

You'll find a small hole on the side of the handle's collar that faces away from the jamb. Most levers have one, even if you haven't noticed it before. By pressing your pin tool firmly into this hole, you will be able to release the handle. Then repeat the process on the other side.

Step #2: Reverse and Reinstall

Now that both levers have been removed, you will need to switch them from inside to outside. Once they’re in the correct position, push them back in until they click into place and then pull them to make sure they are seated properly.

Reversing Schlage Door Levers

Some manufacturers, including Schlage, have designed their door levers to be reversible, but there is a specific process involved with each one. If you have a Schlage door lever handle, take the following steps.


  • Flat-head screwdriver

Step #1: Remove the Levers

Insert the key into the lock. The key needs to be rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise until it is vertical in the keyhole. Look for a small hole in the side of the handle, near the lockset's face. Then insert a small flat-head screwdriver into the hole.

Pull out on the handle while pushing in on the screwdriver. Pull the handle off until it moves up against the key. Make a 90-degree turn on the key and pull it out of the keyhole. Remove the handle all the way from the lockset. Insert the tool or screwdriver into the hole on the other handle. There is no need to insert a key or turn the lock button. Grasp the handle of the lockset and pull it out.

Step #2: Reverse and Reinstall

Slide the handle over the lockset shaft from the side with the key hole. Lock the handle in place by pressing down on it. From the lock-button side, slide the handle onto the shaft until it moves against the retaining clip. Place the key in the keyhole and turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise. Lock the handle in place by pressing in on it. Then take out the key.

What if You Need to Reverse a Regular Door Knob?

Most interior door knobs don't have locks, but bathrooms and sometimes bedrooms are an exception. When you need privacy, you can lock yourself in and keep others out simply by twisting a thumb-lock.

Unfortunately, it’s also possible for children to lock themselves in, either accidentally or deliberately. If you’re a parent, you can avoid this situation by reversing the door knob. Here are the steps you can take.


Here’s everything you’ll need to give your exterior door hardware a makeover:

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver

Step #1: Remove the Knob

The two sides of the door knob are held together by screws. Some of the screws are visible on the plate, while others are hidden behind it. There should be a tiny slot between the handle and the plate. To release the handle, insert a small, flathead screwdriver into the slot. Slide the plate off the door knob and pull off the handle to reveal the screws. Then, while holding the opposite side of the knob steady, use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws holding the assembly together.

Once the screws have been removed, pull off the door knob. Remove the spindle side of the knob from the latch. If the spindle seems to catch on the latch inside the door, push in the latch end, which protrudes from the edge of the door.

Step #2: Reverse and Reinstall the Knob

Install the spindle on the other side of the door. Make sure the spindle goes through the latch, and the screw posts go through the smaller holes in the latch on either side of the opening. Brace the knob against the opposite side of the door and secure it with the screws by turning them clockwise. Place the plate against the door and push the handle onto the doorknob.

Is It Time to Change Your Door Lever Handles?

Although door hardware is meant to last for a long time, you’ll eventually want to replace your lever handles with a new set. When that happens, call Access Residential Hardware. We sell door levers from a wide variety of reputable manufacturers, including Yale, Emtek, and Baldwin. To learn more about our interior door hardware or place an order, call 866.752.9002 or use this contact form and we’ll reply promptly. Thank you for your business!