how to replace broken door frame

top of a typical wood door frame
Tools Needed
1 Chisel
2 Hammer
3 Spirit level
4 Putty knife
5 Finishing nails
6 Stain marker
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Materials Needed
1 Screwdriver
2 Utility knife
3 Crowbar
4 Nail set
5 Putty crayon
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Total Cost
$50-$100
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Estimated Time
2-4 Hours
Skill Level: Advanced
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Project Overview

person fixing a door frame

We have all encountered doors and door frames that have seen better days. However, age, prolonged exposure to moisture or forced entry can all cause serious damage to your door frame (also called the door jamb), which can cause your door to malfunction.

Repairing and replacing a broken or damaged door frame is a job that can range from a simple and quick fix to one that requires a bit more handiwork; it depends on how your door was damaged and how you would like to fix it.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1

Remove the Molding and Door Stop

person removing white door molding

Using a putty knife or hammer and a chisel, gently pry the molding and door stop away from your door frame. It is ideal to start at the frame’s bottom and gradually work your way up.

Be cautious and do not damage the door stop when detaching it from the door frame. To ensure smooth and even removal, position the claw end of your hammer carefully on the side of every nail. Then remove any finishing nails that are left in the molding.

2

Straighten the Frame

door shims

Remove the shims between the wall and door frame. Door shims are used for correcting and leveling the frame with the door to ensure it is squared, or at times even, between each side of the door frame. To replace the broken door frame, they must be removed.

Using a mallet, firmly hammer the door frame in the appropriate direction to level out both sides. When straightening the frame, make sure your door is shut. This will help you determine whether your door is planed or even with the frame.

It is advisable to cover the area you are hammering with a small and thick block of wood. This will help prevent serious damage to the door frame by evenly distributing the blows from your mallet. You may also use the piece of wood as a wedge if you are having trouble hammering it in a specific direction.

3

Measure Incrementally

someone measuring the space on the bottom of a door with a tape measure

While straightening your door frame, carefully measure the gaps in the door to determine if your door is flush on each side of the frame from bottom to top.

Keep in mind that a broken frame is an immediate problem, especially when it keeps your door from closing adequately, or leaves a big gap between the frame and the edges.

A broken or damaged door frame is often indicative of moisture. Therefore, it is important to double check for any rotting wood both on and near your door frame.

4

Remove the Frame

person removing a door frame

Remove the screws and molding, and using a crowbar, gently pry the door frame from the wall. When the frame is almost removed, detach it by gently pulling it with your hands from the top plate. Also, remove the shims you encounter on the way.

You can easily cut a piece of timber of an appropriate size, especially when you are replacing only a single part of your frame. Otherwise, purchase a new frame.

Weather-treated timber pieces are most commonly used for old door frames. Avoid using pressure-treated materials as they tend to twist when they dry out.

5

Reinstall the Door Shims

someone hammering nails to install new door shims in the frame

In order to fit the new frame, you may have to modify the top plate. Slide the door frame into position and with a pencil carefully measure the placement of the notch in the top plate. Then, using a chisel and multitool, cut the notch.  

Place the door shims about 100 mm from the bottom and top of the door frame, and at each door hinge. Check to see if the shims are usable. If not, you can purchase them at a hardware store. Using a spirit level, ensure the door shims are level. You may use as many shims as needed to make sure the entire door frame is adequately leveled.

6

Install the New Frame

person installing different wood pieces for the door frame

Slide the new door frame into place. Make sure the frame is level against the shims and inside the notch. Hammer two finishing nails through the surface of the frame at each shim. This will secure the shims and door frame in place. Do not hammer the finishing nails all the way. It is better to leave a bit of wiggle room in case an adjustment is needed later on.

Conclusion

This is a good opportunity to ensure your door frame is flush to the finished wall or drywall. When it is level and flush, tack the finishing nails in place using a nail punch. You can also use a finish nail gun and compressor if you have them. Then reinstall your door to the frame in case you removed it before.

Take care when you reinstall the door strip and molding, making sure both are level and flush. Your broken door frame has been replaced. You can putty all the holes using a putty crayon. Also color the cracks and seams with a stain-marker.

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