Installing a new front door adds privacy, safety, and appeal to your home. Before you call a handyman for the job, browse the step-by-step instructions below and learn how to install a front door yourself. These simple instructions indicate the job is a great DIY project most any homeowner can complete.
Read the instructions included with your new door. You should follow any specific instructions set forth in those instructions. However, the step-by-step installation instructions below should suffice for most homeowners who want to install their own front door.
You’ll need to collect four sets of measurements to correctly measure the door.
- Door Size: The height and width of the old door should be measured.
- Jamb Width: From the backside of the interior trim to the backside of the exterior trim should be measured to get the jamb width. This number is one you’ll need to mention when ordering your new door to ensure the interior trim fits into the wall flush without the need for jamb extensions.
- Rough Opening: Removing the interior trim helps get the most accurate measurements of the rough opening. Placing a putty knife against the frame before using the box cutter to remove the trim can save the paint -and the need to repaint the area. Measure the opening width between the frame and from the bottom of the sill to the top of the opening, comparing measurements ensures proper fit.
- Exterior Opening: Measure from the exterior casing and again from the bottom of the sill to the trim top. Compare the measurements using a standard 2-inch wide brick molding trim. If the door is too small to fit the space when framed, there are a few options available. You can purchase a wider door, add decorative molding to overtop the trim, or fill the gaps with wood strips.
Order a New Door
Using the collected measurements, visit the door supplier of your choice to order a new door. Wood, steel, and fiberglass material are popular choices for entry doors. Using rounded measurements is best. For example, if your door measures 34 ½ inches in height, order a 35-inch door.
To ensure the hinges align properly, you’ll need to choose from a left-swing or a right-swing door. To determine which swing you need, open the existing door with your back standing against it. If the door opens to the right, order a right-swing door. If the door opens to the left, order a left-swing door.
When the door arrives, keep it inside the packaging until you’re ready to hang unless pretreating is desirable. Bracing is also on the door, used to keep the door square. Allow the bracing to remain in place until installed.
Should you wish to treat the door, it is easier before the door is installed. Consider adding paint, stain, etc. before continuing with the door installation.
Remove the Old Door
Using a nail set, tap the hinge pins on the door until they come out. Remove the door from the hinges. Remove the lockset/deadbolt on the door if reusing the set.
You’ll notice paint between the exterior and interior door casing and your home’s siding or brick. Use your utility knife to remove the paint.
Check the door sill. Doors exposed to weather elements oftentimes become damaged and need replaced along with the door. If the door isn’t damaged but still unlevel, placing a strip of thin plywood provides a quick solution to level the floor.
Place your pry bar between the jamb and the door casing. Use the hammer to loosen the door from the frame. Pry the door from the casing, careful not to scrap the siding. Remove the hinges, the door latch, the deadbolt strike plate and the door jambs.
Attach the New Door
Ensure the the studs are square and plumb before you begin attaching the new door. If there’s a second set of hands around, asking for a little help right now is ideal because the door can be rather heavy.
Apply a thin layer of silicone caulk to the outer edge of the sill, followed by another half-inch layer around the first. Caulk should also be placed around the exterior opening.
Remove the braces from the new door. Drill holes in the brick mold in the exterior door casing. Place the top of the new door on the sill, working the door into a standing position. Using a level, align the door until it is square and plumb.
Use 3” galvanized or stainless steel casing nails into the pre-drilled holes. Leave the nail heads protruding in case the door needs adjusting. Shims can be placed behind any hinges with a gap between the stud and door jamb.
Open and close the door, ensuring that it fits properly and that the door is square. If the door isn’t, make any necessary adjustments now.
The hinge screws in the door jamb should be replaced with hinge screws that penetrate at least 1” into the stud. Put shims between the stud and the door frame side to fill any remaining gaps. Hammer the finishing nails into the stud. Put shims between the latch side of the door frame and at the lock and deadbolt locations.
Use 2” finishing nails, install the interior door casing. Ensure there’s a ⅛” to a 3/16” wide reveal on each of the three sides of the casing and door jamb. Set the nails below the surface of the door using a nail set using painter’s putty or a wood filler.
Place trimming on the exterior of the new door. Caulk around the brick molding of the door to seal the exterior. Repeat the process on the interior of the door frame.
The Finishing Touches
Doesn't it feel great to have just installed a new front door at your home? Now, for a few final touches!
The door casing and brick or siding should now be caulked and the holes touched up with paint. When finished, install the lockset and deadbolt, ensuring the latch screws reach through the casing into the stud 1” or more.
Using spray foam before reattaching the trim is also helpful when installing a new front door at your home. The spray foam can be used to seal the gaps between the door frame and the door jamb. Once the insulation is sprayed, trim away the excess using your putty knife
Why hire a professional door installer when you can easily turn this task into a fun DIY project? With the above how to install a front door instructions, any homeowner can instantly become a handyman pro!