Sometimes the smallest details make a huge statement. Take your doorbell button, for example. Does it look nice? Does it make visitors want to ring it? Does it reflect your style? Does it even function? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, it’s time to swap out your old, sorry doorbell for a new one. This is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to spruce up your home’s front entrance. Even with some wrinkles thrown in (such as a strange doorbell placement and some odd rock formations), this project will be fast and leaving you wondering why it took you ten years to make the change.
DIY Level: Beginner
Take one last look at your old, yucky doorbell button. This particular one had been painted on. It was missing a screw and therefore glued into place on one side. It was plastic and soul-less. It was time to move it up and out.
Begin by removing your old doorbell button. Unscrew the front screws.
You will see that your doorbell is connected by two house wires. Normally when we work with any kind of wiring in the home, you’ll want to flip the breaker to turn those hot wires off. This is not necessary when replacing a doorbell button, however, because of the very low voltage flowing through the wires.
One challenge of doing any sort of upgrades on a rock face front entrance is the unevenness of the rock/concrete grout, particularly over time. This doorbell is probably 30+ years old, and the concrete between the rocks has cracked, including one side under the doorbell where a screw should’ve held it in place.
I scraped out loose bits of concrete from this hole but didn’t worry too much about it at this point because we’ll be filling the gap a bit later.
Unscrew the old doorbell button by loosening the two screws underneath and removing the two wire connections.
You should still have easy access to both wires after the doorbell button is removed.
Determine the doorbell button you like. I chose this one for its simple design and round button; however, some of its features ended up being a detriment to this particular doorbell button swap. You’ll see why.
Bend the ends of the two doorbell wires into small “hooks.” These will go under the screws on the new doorbell button.
Place the two hooks under the screws on the back of the new doorbell button. This particular doorbell button protrudes deeply into its wall placement; because of the round button, the screws are very close together.
Tighten the two wire-holding screws.
Make sure the wires don’t touch each other when tightened down under the screws. If they do, you’ll be hearing a lot of mis-fired doorbell chimes.
Probably, if you don’t have a rock face wall, you will be able to simply screw your new doorbell button back into place and be done with the thing. Easy, right? However, if you’re dealing with a situation on the rock wall such as wide open spaces where the screws are supposed to go, you’ll need to come up with a solution. The doorbell placement in this instance is rather fixed, because the wires come out between the rocks. So we need to add substance where there is, currently, none. Enter: rock putty.
Mix up a bit of rock putty powder in a small disposable container, and as carefully as you can, fill the spaces where the doorbell button mounting screws will go. Take care to leave space if your doorbell button sticks out in the back. And do all you can to keep the wires free, or they’ll be rather cemented into place after the rock putty hardens.
Pull out some carbide-tipped drill bits if there’s a chance you would be drilling into rock, brick, stone, or cement. You’ll also likely need a hammer drill or a power drill with a hammer feature.
Let the rock putty dry thoroughly, then carefully drill your screw holes. Chances are, you can just slap on your mounting screws and be done with the thing here. Congratulations! However, despite this DIY project being quite simple in theory, I ran into a problem with the doorbell button itself. After it was mounted, I pressed it to try it out. (Should’ve done that at the beginning.) The button stayed pushed in, with no normal button-kickback. Rats. I uninstalled the faulty doorbell button and returned it for a different model.
The new model was narrower (to fit more snugly against the protruding upper rock edge in this particular instance), smaller, outwardly protruding (to avoid squeezing back between the rock putty sections), and, perhaps most importantly, a workable button. Perfect.
I was able to easily tighten the screws to install the new doorbell button.
Then carefully chip and wipe off any excess rock putty.
Due to the uneven (read: non-flat) surface that is a rock face wall, there will likely be gaps between the back edge of your doorbell button and the face of the rock(s) themselves. To keep the button clean and secure, I recommend running a bead of outdoor-appropriate silicone around the perimeter.
Run the silicone around the doorbell button just as though it was caulk.
Smooth the silicone then wipe off any excess with your fingers.
Let the silicone dry thoroughly.
Congratulations! You may have finished your doorbell button install much sooner than I did, but it feels good whenever you finish the job. Doesn’t this super simple upgrade make the entire doorbell experience better in every possible way?
I like the LED light feature on this button as well, although it’s certainly not required for an impactful doorbell button swap.