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How to Install a Front Entry Door

Tuesday October 23rd, 2018
DIY front door installation made easy


A front entry door can go a long way toward boosting your home’s curb appeal. Whether it’s functional, fashionable or a combination of both, installing a new front door is a DIY project that can be done in a weekend. If you’re up for the task, here is a short tutorial that will show you how to hang a front door. We’ll walk you through the process and give you some tips and tricks for a smooth installation.

Measure, measure… and measure your door again!

Before you begin the door installation process, break out the measuring tape and write down the dimensions of your old door, along with measurements for the width and height of the frame as well as the jamb depth. You should aim to have your new door measure ½ inch less than the height of the opening and about ¾ inch less in width.

Removing the existing door

Before you install your new door, you need to remove your old one. Here are some tips and tricks to simplify the process.  

Remove the door and storm door (if you have one)

If you have a storm door, it will typically be held in place by screws, and also have a spring at the top and additional hardware that will need to be removed. Remove your hardware first before removing the screws or hinges on your storm door.

Remove the doorbell (if you have one)

Doorbells are low-voltage electronics, so unscrewing your existing apparatus will not require an electrician.

Score the trim

Start by scoring along the exterior trim with a utility knife to more easily pry it off. Your new door will most likely have the exterior trim already attached, so there is no need to worry about saving the old door trim.

Step 4: Remove the hinge pins and lift out your door

First, close your front door and latch it shut, if you have a latch. From there, remove the hinge pins. You can use a hammer and nail to gently loosen the pins. You’ll only need to tap the hammer and nail against the bottom of each hinge pin until it pops up approximately one inch from the hinge. You can then pull out the pin from the hinge using just your fingers.

Gently lift the door away from the hinges by giving the knob a slight pull and grasping just beneath one of the hinges with your other hand.  After the old door is off its hinges, unscrew the strike plate from the frame.

Step 5: Cut the screws or nails

You’re likely going to have some screws exposed, so you’ll need to use a reciprocating saw between the door frame and house frame to saw through them, making them flush.

Step 6: Remove the jamb

When removing the front entry jamb, try pushing from the top and to loosen it. If it sticks, it’s likely from the old sealant at the bottom, so you may have to wiggle it free or use a little more force to remove it.

Installing the new entry door

Now that you’ve removed your old door, it’s time to install your brand new door.

Step 1: Be sure your door is level and plumb

When installing your new front entryway door (and any door for that matter), it’s important that the subfloor is level and the rough opening is as square and plumb as it can be. If it’s slightly out of square, no problem! You can always use some shims to correct the fit. Simply attach any needed shims to the existing frame with thin, lightweight screws.

Step 2: Install a sill pan to keep water out

Your front door is a primary entryway, but the last thing you want entering your home is water. That’s why installing a sill pan or flashing tape to the sill can help prevent future water damage. A sill pan tilts away from the exterior of your home and allows water to drain away from your home. Make sure your sill pan is properly sealed to provide a waterproof barrier against water.  

Step 3: Reinstall your doorbell

During installation, remove the transport plug and drill a hole big enough for your doorbell wires to feed through. You can now re-install your doorbell.

Step 4: Set the door

When setting the door into the rough opening, apply a bead of caulk to the back along the top and two sides for the brickmould on the door. Remember to set the bottom of the door in the opening first before tilting the top into place.

Step 5: Add shims to square your door

Once the door is in place, be sure it’s plumb and square. That’s where the shims come into play. Place them around the frame above the three hinges and on the latch side at the top, middle and bottom. Make sure your door is distortion-free and straight before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Check the framing

Look at your door from inside your home to ensure the frame is centered and still plumb. Go ahead and drill some pilot holes through the hinges and drive your screws in. Only drill these holes halfway. Place shims above each screw location on the hinge side if need be. Head back outside and finish drilling in the screws. Your hinge side should now be secure.

Step 7: Check your weather stripping alignment

From the outside, check to see where the weather stripping connects with the door. Look for equal contact at the top, middle and bottom. If it’s not equal, you may have to adjust the latch side of the door by drilling pilot holes in the frame at the top and bottom. Drive your screws in halfway -- just enough to secure your door in place without it being so tight it can’t be adjusted.

Step 8: Add more shims

Now that you’ve partially driven in your screws, you’ll want to shim above them on the latch side, again checking if the frame is plumb. If it looks good, drill in the top and bottom screws fully, leaving the middle screw still only halfway driven through. Go ahead and close the door and shim above the middle screw and the strike plate. You can now drive in the last screws and attach the strike plate.

Step 10: Test the sill cap

Now that your door is as snug as a bug in its frame, test out the sill to ensure that it’s sealed, but not too tight. Try placing a piece of paper under the door and over the sill and closing the door. If the paper pulls out with a little resistance and doesn’t tear, you’re in good shape. If it tears, you’ll need to adjust (lower) the sill cap screws to lower. If it slides out with zero resistance, you’ll need to raise the cap.

Step 11: Install your lock system

Next, install your door’s deadbolt and lockset by following the manufacturer’s guide for your hardware of choice. Again, check the locks to ensure they’re functional and make any necessary adjustments.

Step 12: Score the shims

It’s time to pretty up all those shims sticking out of your door! Do this by scoring them with a utility knife and snapping or cutting them off with an oscillating saw to make them flush and unnoticeable.

Step 13: Insulate

Your energy bill and your overall climate comfort control will thank you for this next step as you insulate around the frame using blanket insulation or spray foam.

Step 14: Install interior trim

The next step on the path to beautifying your newly installed door is to install interior trim. Make sure to seal along the edges of the trim with beads of caulk.

Step 15: Paint your new door

Chances are you probably already have a paint color or stain picked out for your new door. But if you don’t, you should check out these popular front door paint colors.

Step 16: Ding, dong! It’s your doorbell for your new door!

Lastly, reinstall your existing doorbell or opt for a new one that better matches the aesthetic qualities of your new door. It’s up to you!

That wraps up our list of tips and tricks on how to install a front door. Now, every time you walk through your entryway, you can feel a sense of pride in the work you did in the span of the weekend with this DIY project. Now that the doorway to future DIY house projects is operational again, what’s next? Check out our blog for your next project.
 
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