How to Remove a Doorknob with No Visible Screws

Removing a doorknob may seem daunting, but you can complete this project quickly and easily with the right instructions. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of removing a doorknob with no visible screws.

When You Need to Remove a Hidden Doorknob

There are several reasons you may need to remove a doorknob with concealed screws:

  • Replacing the doorknob – Over time, doorknobs can become loose or damaged. Replacing the knob requires first removing the old one.
  • Re-keying the lock – If you’ve lost keys or moved into a new home, you’ll need to remove the existing lockset to install a new one keyed to your keys.
  • Updating décor – Installing new knobs is an easy way to change the style of a room. You’ll need to remove the old knobs first.
  • Repairing the door – If the door is damaged or sticking, removing the knob provides better access for repairs.
  • Painting the door – Taking knobs off prevents paint buildup and allows for smoother coats of paint.

No matter the reason, removing a stuck doorknob is possible with some finesse and the right tools.

Gather Tools Needed for Removing Doorknobs

Removing a secretly secured knob requires just a few specific tools:

  • Flathead screwdriver – Use this to pry off the cover plate and loosen screws. Choose a mid-size screwdriver that fits well in screw grooves.
  • Phillips screwdriver – For removing Phillips head screws under the cover plate. I have both a mid-size and small Phillips head on hand.
  • Utility knife – Helpful for prying off stubborn cover plates.
  • Flashlight – Illuminates hard-to-see areas and helps locate hidden screw holes.
  • Dental pick set – The hook-shaped picks can dislodge cover plates and reach into crevices.
  • Needle-nose pliers – Grips and turns screws in tight spaces.
  • WD-40 lubricant – A light spritz helps loosen rusted or stuck screws.
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With these basic tools, you’re ready to extract even the most stubborn concealed knob successfully.

How to Remove Doorknobs with Visible Screws

Many knobs are secured by obvious exterior screws for easy removal:

Step 1: Locate the Visible Screws

  • Check the knob’s surface and edges for screws.
  • Visible screws are often found on the door’s inactive side opposite the latch.
  • Look at the circular cover plate surrounding the knob and the base.

Step 2: Remove the Visible Screws

  • Use a Phillips or flathead screwdriver to loosen the visible exterior screws.
  • Turn screws counterclockwise to loosen completely and extract.
  • Place screws in a small container so they don’t get misplaced.

Step 3: Detach the Knob and Interior Mechanisms

  • With screws removed, pull the knob away from the door to detach it.
  • The latch and spindle should detach from interior mechanisms.
  • Set the knob aside and leave the latch/spindle inserted in the door edge.

Step 4: Remove Latch Plate Screws

Step 5: Remove Remaining Hardware

  • Extract the latch and spindle entirely from the door edge.
  • Related interior components like rosettes will now come free.
  • Clean out old hardware, latch hole, and screw holes as needed.

The door is ready for a new doorknob installation with all hardware removed.

Techniques for Removing Hidden Screw Knobs


Hidden Retainer Screws

Many modern doorknobs use concealed mounting screws for a seamless appearance:

Check for Removal Slot on Knob Stem

  • A small hole or slot on the knob stem indicates a release method.
  • Insert a pin or paperclip into the hole and push in while gently prying the knob.
  • Or turn the slot screw counterclockwise until the knob is released.

Pry Off Ornamental Cover Plate

  • An ornamental plate around the knob covers the mounting screws.
  • Carefully pry off the cover plate with a flathead screwdriver.
  • Check for screws behind the cover plate and remove them.

Remove Set Screws on Knob Core

  • Blind set screws on the knob core hold it onto the door.
  • Use an Allen wrench to loosen the set screws.
  • Remove the knob core once the set screws are detached.

Access Screws Through Latch Plate

  • If no screws are found behind the knob, check the latch plate.
  • Remove the latch plate screws and detach the plate.
  • Mounting screws should be accessible with the plate removed.

Detailed Steps to Remove Hidden Retainer Screws

Follow these comprehensive steps to extract concealed screws and detach the knob:

Step 1: Try Releasing at Knob Stem

  • Examine the knob stem closely with a flashlight.
  • Look for a minor release hole or slot.
  • Use a paperclip or pin to depress the release, then pull the knob.
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Step 2: Pry Off the Ornamental Cover Plate

  • Many knobs have a circular cover plate around the stem.
  • Try prying the plate off with a flathead screwdriver.
  • Attempt to slide plate down knob stem for removal.

Step 3: Check Under Cover Plate

  • Once the cover plate is removed, inspect the area behind it.
  • Look for mounting screw holes and matching screws.
  • Turn the screws counterclockwise with a screwdriver to remove.

Step 4: Remove Set Screws on Knob Core

  • If no screws are seen, the knob likely has blind set screws.
  • Use an Allen wrench to remove the set screws securing the core.
  • These can require ample force to loosen initially.

Step 5: Remove the Latch Plate for Access

  • With knob core released, access plate.
  • Take out the latch plate screws located on the door edge.
  • Carefully remove the latch plate to expose the interior.

Step 6: Locate Mounting Screws

  • Inside the latch plate area are mounting screws.
  • Use Phillips or flat head screwdriver to detach screws.
  • Turn the screws counterclockwise to remove them fully.

Step 7: Extract All Hardware

  • Once the screws are out, pull the knob and core from the door.
  • Remove the spindle and latch hardware from the edge.
  • Clean out interior holes and hardware grooves completely.

With concealed screws extracted, the knob will detach fully from the door.

Helpful Tips for Removing Tricky Hidden Knobs

Removing stubborn concealed knobs takes finesse. Use these pro tips to help:

  • Spray mounting screws with WD-40 or lubricant to ease turning.
  • Use needle-nose pliers for grip on small or stripped screw heads.
  • Try tapping the knob lightly to break it free once the screws are out.
  • Insert a credit card or thin metal between the knob and plate to pop it off.
  • Run a utility knife around the edge for stuck plates to release the seal.
  • Heat a stuck knob with a hairdryer to expand the metal, then pull it off.
  • If needed, drill out stripped screw heads to remove the screw.
  • Call a locksmith if all DIY efforts fail to detach the stuck knob.

Even the most difficult concealed knobs will eventually come off with patience and the right techniques.

Removing Specific Hidden Knob Types

Certain knob varieties have unique methods for screwless removal:

Interior Lever Style Knobs

  • Look for a small set screw on the lever’s side or underside.
  • Use an Allen wrench to loosen the setscrew and detach the lever.
  • Remove the cover plate and mounting screws underneath.

Oval or Egg-Shaped Knobs

  • Pry off the oval cover plate around the knob stem.
  • Check for screw holes behind the cover.
  • Or remove the set screw at the bottom of the knob.

Decorative Crystal or Ceramic Knobs

  • Look closely for the seam dividing the knob and base.
  • Use a flathead screwdriver to pry the decorative top piece off the base gently.
  • Exposed mounting screws will be on the base piece.
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Small Round Knobs

  • Insert a dental pick into the side gap between the knob and the plate.
  • Carefully pop a small knob off by prying the pick.
  • Access mounting screws on the door behind the knob.

Preparing to Install the New Doorknob

Once the old knob is removed, take these steps to prep for a new knob:

  • Make sure all old hardware is cleared out of holes and grooves.
  • Clean out screw holes and inside knob grooves with swabs or pipe cleaners.
  • Place a bolt or screws into the latch hole to protect the interior.
  • Use sandpaper to smooth and clean latch hole edges if needed.
  • Fill any cracks or gaps around the latch hole with wood filler.
  • Measure the backset (latch hole to knob hole distance) for buying a new knob.
  • Test fit new knob components to ensure proper sizing.
  • Consult new knob instructions for required door prep steps.

Preparing the door correctly will ensure smooth, successful installation of the new knob.

FAQ About Removing Doorknobs with No Visible Screws


Preparing to Install the New Doorknob

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing knobs with concealed screws:

What tools do I need? The primary tools are a flathead screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, utility knife, pliers, Allen wrench set, and flashlight.

How can I get the cover plate off? Try prying gently with a flathead screwdriver. If stuck, run a utility knife around the edge of the plate to loosen the seal.

What if I can’t find any screws? Look inside the latch plate or try releasing the knob core with setscrews. Concealed screws are nearly always present somewhere.

What if the knob won’t come off after removing the screws? Check for any remaining screws hidden behind the knob. Try lightly tapping the knob to break the seal.

Should I salvage the old mounting screws? Yes, reuse undamaged mounting screws if possible for installing a new knob.

How do I avoid damaging the door? Use patience and gentle prying methods. Repair any splintered areas before installing a new knob.

Can I change the knob myself or call a pro? With basic tools and instructions, DIY knob removal is feasible for most homeowners.

What backset measurement do I need?
Measure old knob holes to find the backset to match the new knob size. Standard sizes are 2-3/8″ or 2-3/4.

Can I Remove a Doorknob from a Fibreglass Door Using this Guide?

Removing a doorknob from durable fibreglass doors can easily be done by following this guide. With the right tools and careful steps, you’ll be able to detach the doorknob without damaging the fibreglass surface. Just make sure to handle the process gently to maintain the integrity of your fibreglass door.

Screwless Doorknob

Removing a deceptively screwless doorknob takes some investigative work but is entirely doable with some finesse. Follow the detailed techniques in this guide to successfully extract concealed screws and detach even the trickiest hidden knob. You can easily remove and replace a hidden-screw knob with the proper tools and preparation.

George Anderson

George Anderson

Hi, I’m George Anderson, an expert installer with an extensive door installation and maintenance background. I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge on door equipment and accessories through my writing, helping homeowners make informed decisions. My specialty lies in custom door installations, with a commitment to enhancing the aesthetics of every home. Please feel free to reach out anytime for help with door-related questions or needs.

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