Keyless entry that works with old house?

I’m still knocking things off my list in preparation of posting our rental house. The one project I can ignore no more is the front door keyless entry.

We have a 100+ year old house. Depending on the weather; there is some shifting and expanding of wood that makes turning a deadbolt lock a little tricky. Sometimes you have to jiggle the door/doorknob a bit. A lot of the locks I’m looking at are motorized which would seem to have no wiggle room.

Have any of you had success address this problem? If so, please fill me in on your solution and what product you use. Thank you!

101 year old duplex here. What worked for me is to use the Schlage Encode, and have my locksmith install it in place of the existing deadbolt with a new hole drilled in the door frame for the deadbolt. This is completely separate from the door handles. Those are the original mortise mechanisms, pulling those out and trying to tighten them up is the main project for the next few weeks. If that doesn’t work, I’ve got the mortise conversion plate to use the Schlage Camelot door handle in oil-rubbed bronze. The doors are big, old and heavy, and guests, esp kids, really tend to be hard on them.


I’ll check them out. We have a Schlage deadbolt on a door at our primary residence and I’ve had to replace it twice due to slipping. Maybe the models that you’re using are more reliable.

And I’m also realizing that we should have a keyed doorknob in case someone were to lock that by mistake on their way out the door…

Thanks for your reply.

I have a Schlage Encode and a door handle with no lock. More than once guests locked both but didn’t take the key with them and so I had to let them in the room. I also used to have problems with the bolt not extending all the way into the hole. I had to make the hole bigger and adjust the strike plate.

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Like @KKC, I had guests who locked both and it was inconvenient for them and me. I immediately replaced the old keyed knob with a lever. If you are going with the keyless entry (and I recommend it highly even in an old house), make sure there are absolutely no other locks for them to lock, because they will…


Is there another entry to use? Sometimes the ‘historic’ entry point should be left alone and another entry, with a modern lock system, would make it easier to use and would not take away from the historic door.

  1. I would never use a deadbolt for guests. It is counterintuitive for guests to unbolt a door when using a simple passage knob (like you have already on the door) is what they expect when using a door. Deadbolts have a way of quickly destroying your door trim as guests slam them shut on an open bolt; a smart deadbolt will work but be prepared for damage and doors left open, such as when folks bring in their luggage and forget to lock up behind them.

You need a handyman to repair your door. Your door should not have the problems you mention, especially guests… telling them to ‘jiggle the handle a bit’ to make it work not only does not inspire confidence in their safety but it also means that rather than closing a door they might just slam it. Your handyman needs to make the door secure and solid in the frame. If your deadbolt currently in use is not easily locking, you have a security issue too. For me, anything that requires an explanation to make something work correctly is something that needs fixing.

Many companies make smart mortise locks; Yale is one name.

These are all good points and suggestions, Rolf. Thank you.

I should clarify: sometimes I have to push into the door a little while locking the deadbolt from inside.

But I think you’re probably right. The proper thing to do is getting working smoothly.

I’m confused about your comment about the deadbolt though…. Should I not even have one that only locks from the inside?

We don’t have any other doors that would be convenient so we need to make this one work.

Possibly, but I would think that it would be a potential problem if you are expecting guests to be careful not to slam the door with the deadbolt open (out).

Keep in mind that no one host has all the answers. I’ve hosted over a 1000 stays in 8 years and my Airbnb entrance has always had a deadbolt of some kind. The deadbolt has never caused a problem and has never caused damage to the door frame. I’ve only had trouble with guests locking a knob they didn’t have a key or code for.


we have a 100 year old home, and have installed keypad locks on the doors. We paid for a professional to do it though, which was pricey but at least they all work as they should.

I have the same deadbolt issues as you do - swelling shrinking of front door, etc. Instead of motorized I have a Schlague with a keypad, but instead of the deadbolt moving on it’s own, the keypad releases the deadbolt for MANUAL operation of the deadbolt. So door can be jiggled, and the deadbolt turned. This solved my problem, and funny enough I’ve never had to tell guests that they need to finesse the door, it seems to come natural.

Also, a locksmith once told me that this model was more secure than the motorized ones and rarely needs the batteries changed.


I appreciate the reminder - thanks! Our house is in a safe, downtown neighborhood but it’s urban and I think folks would appreciate the extra lock.

Thanks! I knew I couldn’t be the only one with this issue!

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Can you share the Schlage model number or other info? I, too, have need of a lock like this as my historic 110 year old AirBnB has the same issues. We have had a contractor to fix it 2-3 times already. The lock function improves a bit each time BUT never to the point we need it to be.

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It’s the Schlage BE365
I’ve had mine for several years but it looks like they still sell this model.
Here’s a video showing how it works, if you’re interested:

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PS. The whole manual deadbolt thing can confuse people initially…I have a home-share, so I’m there to help, but I send these instructions and 99% of guests are good to go:

To Unlock Door:
• Punch in Door code: XXXXX
• Turn deadbolt, directly above keypad to the LEFT

Once inside, just turn the deadbolt to the left to lock the door.

To lock Door from the outside:
• Push the oval shaped “Schlage” button above numbers on keypad
• Turn deadbolt, directly above the keypad to the RIGHT

It’s the Schlage BE365
I’ve had mine for several years but it looks like they still sell this model.

Thanks! We actually used to have this one on our primary house back door and had to replace it because it slipped. The lock would just spin and spin and never catch the bolt. Have you ever experienced that?

Thank you! That was very helpful!

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I’m not sure what this means? Anyway, I’ve had the lock for over 10 years and no issues.

I have the Schlage Camelot keypad deadbolt on the door and the code ONLY frees up the knob to be turned for the deadbolt. I have a lever to open the door without any keyhole.

Aside from explaining to guests that they not only have to turn the knob to open the door (some have stared blankly at it waiting for the motor sound), I’ve also had to explain they have to turn the deadbolt manually once inside as it’s not an automatic lock.

Works great. I change the batteries 2x a year, whether they need it or not. Change clocks, change all batteries in the house.

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