What is a door backset?

When it comes to installing doors, the term "backset" frequently comes up. Understanding what a door backset is, why it matters, and how to measure it correctly can make a significant difference in ensuring your door functions smoothly and fits perfectly within its frame. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of door backset, its importance, and how to measure it correctly.

Understanding the Door Backset

The door backset is a critical measurement in door hardware installation. It refers to the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the borehole, where the door handle or lock is installed. Essentially, it is the measurement that determines how far the latch mechanism sits from the edge of the door.

Why the Backset Matters

The backset is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Proper Functioning of the Door: If the backset is incorrect, the latch won't align properly with the strike plate on the door frame, leading to a door that doesn't close or lock correctly.
  2. Aesthetics: The backset affects the placement of door handles and locks, contributing to the overall look and symmetry of the door.
  3. Compatibility: Different door hardware requires different backset measurements. Using the correct backset ensures that your chosen hardware fits and functions as intended.

Standard Backset Measurements

In residential and commercial doors, there are typically two standard backset measurements:

  • 2 3/8 inches (60mm)
  • 2 3/4 inches (70mm)

Of these two, the 2 3/8 inches (60mm) backset is the most commonly used in residential doors. The 2 3/4 inches (70mm) backset is also standard and is often used in commercial applications or for specific residential door styles.

How to Measure the Backset

Measuring the backset is straightforward. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Identify the Edge: Start by locating the edge of the door. This is where the latch bolt will extend out.
  2. Find the Borehole Center: Identify the center of the borehole where the door handle or lock will be installed.
  3. Measure the Distance: Use a measuring tape to measure the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the borehole. This distance is your backset measurement.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Incorrect Backset Measurement: If you’ve drilled the borehole at the wrong backset, you may need to use a filler or adjust the door hardware to ensure proper alignment.
  • Mismatched Hardware: Always verify the backset requirements of your door hardware before installation. Mismatched backsets can lead to functionality issues.
  • Custom Backsets: Some custom or older doors might have non-standard backsets. In such cases, custom hardware or modifications might be necessary.


Understanding what a door backset is and how to measure it correctly is vital for any door installation project. It ensures that your door hardware fits perfectly and functions correctly, contributing to the door's overall aesthetics and security. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a professional installer, getting the backset right is a crucial step in ensuring a successful door installation.

By paying attention to this small but significant detail, you can avoid common issues and ensure that your door operates smoothly and looks great for years to come. So next time you're working on a door project, remember the importance of the backset and measure twice to ensure a perfect fit.