How to Install a Peephole in Your Front Door

The doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone. Maybe it’s Publisher’s Clearing House with a giant check! (Can you win a sweepstakes you didn’t enter?) Or, perhaps it’s a couple of well dressed, polite young adults wanting to know if you’ve found Jesus. (Amen?) Or, you know, it could be a psychopath who would like to come inside and chop you into little pieces. (No, thank you.) My point is, we live in a world where we need to see who’s at the door before we commit to being home. The peephole is like caller ID for visitors; you get to see who it is before you answer. Want to know how to install a peephole in your front door? I gotchu.

Several years ago, I had a meddling neighbor move in next door. That story is here if you’re interested (spoiler alert: she’s crazy), but here’s how it ends: I installed a peephole so I would never have to talk to her again. And guess what? I have never had to talk to her again.

Annoying neighbor through peephole

* Not my actual crazy neighbor. But probably somebody’s…

Hark! Who Goes There?

I know there are other, higher tech options out there to see who’s at your door, but peepholes are inexpensive, easy to install, and require nothing to work, other than your eyeball to do the peeping.

OK, well, you also have to physically get up and walk over to the door, so if that’s too demanding, then maybe a nice Ring Doorbell would be a better option for you. Then you could screen visitors on your smart phone from the comfort of your pretty sofa whilst someone feeds you grapes.

To thine own self be true. This post is not for you.

For the rest of us common folk, I’m going to show you how to install a peephole. Because you need one, right? And Barbra Streisand says people like you are the luckiest people in the world. It’s like she knew, when she wrote the song, that you would have me to show you how to install one.

Lucky you.

Barbra Streisand parody

How to Install a Peephole

Finally, here we are at the instructions. Thank you for your patience. Here’s your supply list:

Step Zero: Ask a friend if she would mind if you installed a peephole in her door (because you already have one installed in your own door) so you could demonstrate the process to the luckiest people in the world. You know, the people who need peepholes.

Step One: Make Your Mark

Peepholes should be at eye level. Pick the shortest adult in your house and use their eye level height because it’s way easier for the tall people to crouch down a little than it is to go get a stupid step stool so you can look through the freaking peephole that some self-centered, inconsiderate, jerk giant installed just for themselves without thinking of his tiny wife.

Marking door for peephole install

Also, don’t poke yourself in the eye with your pencil because I imagine that hurts.

Step Two: Center Your Hole

Use a ruler to make sure your hole is centered on your door from left to right. An uncentered peephole is something that will irk you forever.

Ruler measuring center of door for peephole installation

Step Three: Drill a Pilot Hole

Use your 1/8″ drill bit (or a similarly small bit) to drill straight through your door on the mark that you made.

Drilling pilot hole into door to install peephole

Make sure you keep your drill as level as possible and keep going until the bit pops out the other side. (I forgot to take a picture of the other side, but trust me; the bit did, in fact, pop out the other side.)

Drill with bit completely through door

Step Four: Big Hole

Using your 5/8″ bit (or whatever size your peephole directions tell you to use), drill through your pilot hole. Start on the inside, but stop at half way. Then go outside and repeat the process. This way, the hole will have neat edges on both sides of the door.

Drilling large hole through inside of door for peephole
Drilling large hole through inside of door for peephole
hole drilled for peephole installation

Step Five: File Edges

If you have a metal door, especially, you may have some sharp, protruding edges. Use a small file to smooth those out. I got a cheap file set at the dollar store that was fine for this task. Don’t go nuts. Your peephole will cover the edges, but you want the door to be flat. You can even tap the edges with a hammer to flatten them. Just be careful you don’t dent your door.

Filing sharp edges of hole for peephole

Step Six: Install Your Peephole

Peepholes come in two pieces. See?

Disassembled peephole

Slide the bigger piece through the hole from the outside.

Installing a peephole on the outside of the door

Then take the smaller piece and slide that through the hole on the inside of the door.

While holding the outside part stationary, screw the inside part to tighten by hand. (Remember, righty tighty…)

Installing a peephole on the inside of the door

Most peepholes have a slot on the inside portion. You can use a quarter in that slot to tighten your peephole.

Tightening a peephole using a quarter

Step Seven: Peep

Guess what? You’re done! Easy, right? (Well, you probably don’t know how easy it is because you haven’t actually done it yet because you only just read this post right now, but trust me. It’s easy.)

view through a peephole

Now You’re Prepared

Your doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone. It could be a socially inept friend who doesn’t understand basics of civility and just came over without calling first. (They’d better have cake.)

Me looking through peephole in front door

It could be that thing you ordered from Amazon three hours ago. (How??) Or, you know, it could be small, noisy humans in disguise demanding gratuitous treats under threat of trickery. (Boo.)

Kid in ghost halloween costume looking through peephole

In any case, you now have complete control over who you choose to be home for. And, hey! Just in time for Halloween!

Personally, I am never home on Halloween, even when I’m home on Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the holiday, per se, but I really, really hate the trick-or-treating. I think parents should host costume parties for their own kids instead of letting them beg strangers for sweets. Not for nothing, but aren’t we sending mixed messages to kids when we tell them it’s OK to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for candy, but it’s not OK to accept candy from the nice man with the van?

But, I digress…

Go, Peep, Do

So, do you feel like one of the luckiest people in the world? Because I totally just hooked you up. You’re now more than ready to install your very own peephole. And, like Barbra says…

close up of peephole in aqua painted door

Before you do that, though, have you bothered to paint your front door? Because you wouldn’t want to install your shiny, new peephole in a crappy front door. What would your unwanted visitors think of you? Click here for a fantastic tutorial all about door painting. Man, you guys are so lucky…

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  • Em Dirr

    This….is why I wanted a peephole tutorial from you even though i have sidelights.

    Just knew you’d crush it…(or kill it, in the spirit of Halloween). That schmoop pic! ? Enjoyable! And informative; i may try it on my parents’ door bc my mom is too small to reach the windows.

    More on the billiards tournament, please.

    Also, if you dont do a tutorial on your perfect skin it would be a legit crime.

    • My Crappy House

      You were my inspiration to find a donor door to document the installation process. I never took pics when I did my own, so I wasn’t planning to do a peep post, but this was a fun one. That’s actually NOT Schmoopy in serial killer clothes. It’s the real Jason Voorhees Photoshopped onto my front steps… I’m pretty good at the Photoshop. That’s why I always look good in my pictures! My skin isn’t THAT flawless…

  • Barbara H.

    Great tutorial, as always. I’ve installed two, successfully, but reading along I thought “Wait! Did I do that?” but I will not obsess, just rest easy knowing I followed instructions when I did it. I especially loved the measuring height for the shortest person – SO IMPORTANT! I am short but also the only person so it was easy. The cats can fend for themselves.

    • My Crappy House

      I am absolutely positive you did it right. No second guessing! I’m also fairly certain your cats couldn’t give a flying fig who’s at the door…

    • Barbara H.

      Actually the 13 year old cat was traumatized by a break in a few years ago when they kicked in the carport door. If someone rings the doorbell she runs and hides, so they must have done that to make sure no one was home. But you’re right, a peephole wouldn’t make a difference in this situation.

    • My Crappy House

      Aww, that’s so sad that the doorbell brings back the trauma for her! Maybe change the sound of the bell? I know you can do custom sounds with a wireless doorbell.

  • Katherine Davies

    Wonderful. This looks like a project I could actually do! I had to go back to read the story about your crazy neighbor because I’d somehow missed that post. She sure is crazy.
    Schmoopy looks great in those pics, and now you have a lovely tree. We need some privacy here, too, because even in the middle of Timbucktoo, France our little hamlet is cheek-by-jowl ancient stone houses and we are overlooked in a couple of places. I’ve been experimenting with bamboo, but it has to be the clumping kind and not the spreading kind unless you want to live in a bamboo jungle very quickly. Actually, maybe that would work for you!

    • My Crappy House

      I’ve looked into bamboo. It’s tempting because it grows so fast, but it’s also terrifying because it grows so fast. I honestly think it may be illegal to plant it here. It’s VERY invasive. I’d love to find something though. That tree doesn’t do a very good job…

  • Trollopian

    Thank you for standing up for short people! I can’t count how many times I’ve stayed in hotels where the peephole and robe hook were geared to someone 5’11”. Which might’ve been the height of the construction laborer who installed them, duh.

    • My Crappy House

      Right? I’m only 5’3″. They recently redid the bathroom in a place I frequent. I can now only check that my eyebrows look good before going back to my table.

  • Pamela Bergmann

    Oh I am soooo glad you are BACK! Even though I don’t need a peephole just reading you instructions have given me a smile that will probably last all day. It makes me recall the day my husband (who doesn’t do DIY) installed a new door knob and deadbolt in our exterior door backwards. When I pointed it out he threw his tools down and left and said he was done (I think there was some alcohol involved!). So Miss DIY, myself, took it apart and put it in the right way and was right proud of herself. Keep the posts coming. I love you!

    • My Crappy House

      I was eating in a restaurant by myself when I read your comment and it truly made me laugh out loud. I looked like a crazy person, but Vegas is full of those, so it’s OK. I’m glad you were able to fix is diy attempt. Men love when we women take over their failed projects…

  • Natasha K

    Great post! Unfortunately my door is glass and like a giant peephole which the stupid old owners put in- but if I didn’t, I would totally do this! You so funny.

    • My Crappy House

      Oh, fishbowl door. I’m sorry you have that. You’ll have to be especially badass if you decide not to be home after they’ve already seen you…

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