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How-to Install an
Exterior Door

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Watch an excellent
video describing general best practices for exterior door installation.

Exterior Door Installation

A new front door can change the whole look of your house.

Figure A

Figure B

Figure C

Figure D

Figure E


If your exterior door is old and worn out, or if you're simply getting tired of the way your house looks, it might be time for a new front door. New doors are often more energy efficient than older doors, and they also offer better security.


measuring tape
pry bar
drill, with drill bits and driver bits
utility knife
circular saw
hacksaw or reciprocating saw with metal-cutting blade
miter saw
wooden shims
caulk gun with butyl caulk
pre-hung door
exterior trim
weather stripping
safety glasses
work gloves


* Although you can install a door from scratch, it's easier to install a pre-hung door, which includes a pre-assembled doorjamb with the door attached.

  1. Start by measuring the opening for the doorway; measure for the actual doors as well as for the rough opening. That way you'll be sure your new door will fit properly.
  2. After you get the new door, remove the old one by tapping out the hinge pins and pulling the door off the hinges.
  3. Use a utility knife to score between the molding and the interior wall, and remove the molding with a pry bar. Be careful when you remove the molding; you might be able to reuse it.
  4. Unscrew the hinges from the jamb; there may be some long screws that extend into the wall studs.
  5. Use a circular saw to cut through part of the jamb (figure A), about halfway up, and then pry the remaining portion away with your hands or a pry bar. Remove the entire jamb. You may need to use a utility knife to break the caulk seal between the jamb and exterior wall. Also, a hacksaw or reciprocating saw may be needed to cut through any fasteners that won't come out.

    * Check the door manufacturer's instructions regarding removal and installation of the doorbell.

  6. Check the doorway opening to be sure it's plumb and level before you start installing the new doorjamb. In some cases you might want to remove the subsill (figure B ), which lies beneath the threshold; however, if it's in good shape you can leave it in place.
  7. Dry-fit the new door to be sure it fits properly. You may need help moving the door.
  8. Pull the door back out of the opening, and run a generous bead of butyl caulk along subsill (figure C).
  9. Attach two pieces of scrap wood in the upper corners of the doorway on the interior side. The wood will act as a brace to help hold the door upright.
  10. Set the bottom of the door in place, and raise the top into position. Make sure it's plumb and level, and temporarily nail the frame into place.
  11. Insert shims between the frame and the wall (figure D) to prevent the door from shifting from side to side. Place shims behind every hinge as well as any other place that appears to be bowed inward. Then secure the door by driving tenpenny finish nails through the jamb and shims (figure E).
  12. Trim off excess shims with a utility knife; just score along the shim and break it off.
  13. For additional security, remove one short screw from each hinge and replace it with a 2-1/2-inch screw that extends into the wall stud.
  14. Open and close the door to test the operation. You can make sure it's level by opening the door to a certain point and then leaving it; if it doesn't move, you've done it right.
  15. Apply exterior trim such as brick molding. When the trim is in place, run a bead of caulk between it and the exterior wall.
  16. Push fiberglass insulation between the doorjamb and the wall; don't push it in too tightly because you'll reduce its effectiveness.
  17. Attach interior trim around the door. If you're not reusing your original interior trim, try to find something that will be large enough to cover any imperfections you might have caused when you removed the door.
  18. Install weather-stripping if the door manufacturer recommends it.
  19. Install the door handle and deadbolt lock.

          Reprinted from HGTV online


Watch an excellent video describing general best practices for exterior door installation.




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