The Tool Barn

Installing a door

Exterior doors rot or warp, interior doors get scratched up by cats and dogs or kicked in by vandals.  Whatever the reason, here are some basics for door installation.  

Layout subfloor
Items needed:

Finishing Nails
Wood Putty
Reciprocating Saw or hacksaw
Miter box and saw

Safety Suggestions and Tips
Wear safety glasses 
Always make sure doors are square and plumb.
Level of difficulty

Time Required:
 2 hours


Remove molding
Remove molding

Step 1:

The first step should always be to cut or score the caulk or paint inside and out along the trim.  This will keep the paint and/or drywall from tearing away.

Tearout the threshold
Tearout the threshold

Step 2:

Remove the trim, inside and out, with a flatbar and hammer. Once removed, you should be able to see nails that go through the doorjamb to the stud framing of the wall. They are easily taken care of with a reciprocating saw (Sawzall) or a hacksaw blade.  If the whole door is trash, introduce the prybar.  You should also take the threshold up as well.  The threshold may be screwed or nailed down so take care not to rip out screws with a prybar.

Inspect framing
Inspect framing

Step 3:

When you are as close to the original opening as possible, sweep things clean and inspect for any water or insect damage. If the framing and the floor below the threshold are in good condition, place your new door into position.  It may need to be "padded out on one side, both sides, or a little from above. There should be about 3/8" to a 1/2" gap on both sides and up to an inch on top. It is not uncommon to have to cut some  wood to the appropriate size to make a smaller door fit the opening.

Plan ahead

Step 4:

The jamb on interior doors is a type of tongue and groove that comes apart and slides back together easily.  If you are installing an interior door, pull the trim from the door.  This is usually held in place by shipping nails.  Exterior doors do not usually come with trim.

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