how to replace trim around a front door

how to replace trim around a front door
Tools Needed
1 Utility Knife
2 Pry Bar
3 Putty Knife
4 Miter Saw
5 Finish Nails
6 Nail Gun
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Materials Needed
1 6d trim nails
2 10d trim nails
3 New door trim
4 Measuring tape
Total Cost
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Estimated Time
3-4 Hours
Skill Level: Advanced
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

person replacing trim around a front door

Numerous reasons exist for the need to replace trim around a front door. Trim is sometimes replaced by homeowners who want to update their current decor, or add a more decorative appeal to their home. Replacing trim certainly provides an invigorating look at the home’s entrance. Damage is far more often the reason for front door trim replacement. Rot and other damage occurs over time, oftentimes caused by age and various weather elements. Spotting damaged or rotted trim is as simple as looking at your front door. If you notice the trim is dented, cracked, or fading, the culprit is likely rotted wood underneath.

When it’s time to replace trim, don’t depend upon a professional to complete the task. Hiring a professional to replace trim could cost thousands of dollars, but when you tackle it on your own, you need $100 or less to do just as thorough of a job. Replacing trim is a simple DIY project most any handyman homeowner can easily complete in a matter of a few hours. Learn how to replace trim around a front door with the step-by-step instructions below, gather the supplies, and prepare for a replacement job you’ll feel good about completing.

Starting your project only to realize you’re without the tools and materials needed to complete the job is frustrating! Avoid wasting time and this frustration by gathering all the items you need before the project begins.

Step-By-Step Instructions


Remove the Old Trim

person removing the top trim piece from a door

If rotting wood has yet to cause the need for replacement trim at the front door, consider yourself lucky. This is a common problem many homeowners face. To minimize the damage caused to the trim around the front door (and minimize future repairs,) choose trim made from plastic composite materials. Plastic composite materials are weather-resistant, so snow, rain, and cold weather and heat don’t stand a chance of causing damage. The material is long-lasting, durable, and worry-free, making it a great investment when rotting wood and weather damage cause problems at your home. Wood preservative wonderfully protects against rotting for wood garage door trim. Covering the door with plywood before you start removing the old trim provides protection against various types of damage.

Don’t attempt to remove each individual nail from the existing trim to remove it from the frame. This can be a time-consuming, tedious process. Instead, break the trim using a hammer instead. Your pry bar can help you remove the trim from the frame. When breaking and removing the existing trim, use caution because it’s easy to damage the material surrounding the door if you’re not careful.


Remove Nails & Caulking

front door trims

If any nails remain after breaking the trim, use your claw hammer to remove them. Left behind caulk is just as easily removed while removing the nails. Use a putty knife to scrap the caulk and any residue that remains. For stubborn caulk, a caulk remover can make the job less burdensome.

The job is done when the reveal line becomes clearly visible. Finish the job with the use of a non-expanding spray foam insulation to further weatherproof the trim.


Measure the Trim

measuring front door trim

Recording measurements of the door trim is necessary to purchase new trim for replacement. A simple tape measure helps take those measurements so you can be sure the trim is cut to the right size to fit the opening. Find the header width by marking each piece of trim along the outside edge. Using the measuring tape, measure the length between the marks. A header that slightly expands beyond the trim looks best.

Remember,  you need to add twice the thickness of the header to the overall length when marking to cut. Write down your measurements. Never assume you’ll remember them later.


Cut And Fit the New Trim

cutting front door trim

It’s now time to cut the new trim to size for your front door. Use your Miter saw to cut the trim. Use a 45- degree cut to accurately size the trim, leaving an ⅛-inch reveal on the doorway.  Apply a urethane parting stop on the inside of the bottom and top header.

Before nailing the new trim onto the front door, ensure a proper fit. It’s much easier to correct ill-fitting trim now than after it is secured into place. There shouldn’t be any gaps between the frame and trim, but if there are, use a sander to adjust the trim. Once the trim is adjusted to properly fit the door frame, ensure that it meets the reveal line.


Nail the Trim into Place

new trim for a front entry door

It is the final Step! Set the header center of the door frame, ensuring it extends just beyond each side of the trim. Nail the trim into place using 6d casing nails into the door jambs and 10d nails into the studs and the sheathing. A nail gun is useful to apply the finishing nails into place, if one is available. Your claw hammer will work if a nail gun is unavailable. Use wood filler to set the nails, sanding when dry. Apply exterior caulking from the molding of the trim to the siding. Remove excess caulk with a putty knife or caulk remover.


Updated trim around the front door adds appeal and protection to your house. To further protect the trim, use a three-layer primer treatment. Primer is designed to fill wood fissures to enhance the durability of the wood. Allow each layer of primer to dry before applying another. A layer of latex paint dries to a flexible finish, preventing the trim from rotting. Wood sealer is also a great product that can help minimize wood rotting to protect your front door trimming for a substantially longer time. After protecting the wood with the three-step primer protection, paint the trim in the appropriate color to match the exciting decor.

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