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Top 15 Tips For Proper Door Installation For Your Home

Top 15 Tips For Proper Door Installation For Your Home

Doors are the passageways leading to new adventures and new life milestones in your life. They keep us safe from the outside world and add a splash of curb appeal to our homes. It’s amazing how important a simple door is in our lives.

Like nearly everything in our Dallas homes, our doors will eventually need replacing. The most challenging part is finding the right door and ensuring proper door installation. Choosing the highest quality door according to your needs will prove pointless if improperly installed.

Fortunately, installing a door doesn’t have to be a project full of guesswork. A few helpful tips can make your next Dallas door installation project quick and easy.

Did you know that you can replace a door frame and reuse an old door in good condition? There are doors complete with frame and hardware that are ready-to-go immediately after installation. Almost anyone can learn how to install a door with the right guidance.

Are you curious to learn how? You must check out these top 15 tips for proper door installation for your home!

Tips for Door Installation

The first step in every door installation project is to prepare the door and the doorway. This will give you an idea about the type of door you need and how to properly install it.

From there, the process to install both exterior, interior, and specialty doors is very similar. No worries, we’ve added a few helpful tips to make installing all types of doors easier.

1. Pre-Hung vs. Simple Doors

Almost every type of door comes in pre-hung and simple door options. Depending on your door installation experience and your door needs, one type may work better than another.

A pre-hung door is an entire door. It includes the frame, hinges, and (sometimes) hardware. This type of door is ready for use as soon as you install it.

A simple door consists of only the door. It doesn’t come with the frame, hinges, and other hardware attached. You’ll have to attach the hardware and install the door frame before you can install the door.

Pre-hung doors are great for new homeowners who are replacing the entire door, changing the size of the doorway, or adding an entirely new doorway. They make door installation a little easier and faster.

Pre-hung doors come prepared with shipping braces, shims, and support brackets. Do not remove these until the end of the installation process.

The latter option is great for those who want to reuse their existing door frame. This option allows for greater customizations for those who have a particular door design in mind.

2. Attach Door Hardware Before Installing the Door

If you chose the simple door option, you’ll need to attach the hardware. You’ll want to do this before removing the old door or cutting a new doorway. You may also need to stain or paint the door before adding any hardware.

The hardware you’ll need to attach includes the hinges, door handles, and locks. Attaching these ahead of time will make the door installation process faster and smoother.

3. Must-Have Door Installation Tools & Materials

When learning how to install a door, there’s a list of tools and materials you’ll need. Some of these materials may come with your door depending on the type of door. For most door installation projects you will need:

  • Door
  • Door frame
  • Galvanized finish nails (various lengths)
  • Screws (various lengths)
  • Hardware & hinges (if using a simple door)
  • Mallet
  • Caulk
  • Spare wood
  • Level
  • Measuring instruments
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Saw

For specialty doors, such as a sliding barn door, you’ll also need door rollers and a track. You can purchase a barn door or pocket door kit which comes with the necessary hardware. Or, you can contact your local handyman to install your specialty door for you.

4. Remove the Old Door

With your new door and door parts prepped and ready, you can remove the old door. Start by removing the door hinge pins to remove the door. Remove any hardware in the frame such as the hinges, nails, and screws.

Use a reciprocating saw between the door frame and the wall to cut any remaining nails or screws. Gently tap a mallet around the frame to pop the frame out without damaging the area around it. You can also cut the frame into chunks to make removing it easier.

5. Measure the Rough Opening

Removing the old door and door frame will allow you to measure the rough opening. Measure the height and the width of the opening at both the top and bottom.

You’ll need a level to check both sides of the opening. They don’t need to be plumb but they should be close to ensure your door and frame fit properly.

If you’re planning to install a barn door or pocket door, you’ll need to make a few changes to the rough opening. For a barn door, you’ll need to add a frame and casing to cover the edges of the opening. For a pocket door, you’ll need to remove the drywall from one side of the opening to add a pocket door frame.

6. Level the Floor

Leveling the floor is necessary to ensure your doors hang evenly. An uneven floor, for example, can cause one side of the door to drag on the floor. This can damage the floor and door.

Check the floor by resting a level on the floor by the door opening. If the floor isn’t level, you’ll need to cut the bottom off one of the jambs to help the door hang evenly.

Use shims to prop the level until it becomes level. Shims are small pieces of angled wood designed to help you hang a door evenly and plumb.

Once you level the door with a shim, measure the height of the shim and cut that measurement from the opposite side’s door jamb. This will allow the door to hang straight.

7. Use Temporary Blocks on the Door Jambs

Eventually, you’ll need to test-fit and attach your new door and frame in the opening. This can be a tricky process if you’re working alone. Adding temporary blocks along the door jambs can make fitting and installation much easier.

Cut or find five rectangles that are about 4-5 inches long and wide and about 1/2 inch wide. Nail two to the hinge side and three to the latch side of the jamb. Avoid blocking the hinge areas as you’ll need those areas to add shims.

If you’re installing a pre-hung door complete with a frame and casing, you may want to avoid the temporary blocks as they will leave visible holes. Also, have a friend, family member or neighbor help you hold the door in place while you install it.

8. Test-Fit the Door in the Opening

Before attaching the door to the opening, you’ll need to test fit it. Some door openings may be too small or too large for the door. If this is the case, you’ll need to find a door with a size that fits.

Center the door in the opening and check that there’s roughly an even gap between the frame and rough opening. The very top of the door unit should be level. If everything looks good you can secure it in place by nailing the temporary blocks to the wall.

Don’t worry about the holes in the frame or the wall as you’ll cover these with casings.

9. The Door Gap is Important

During an exterior door installation, you want to check for an even gap between the door frame and the rough opening. This gap allows the wood of the frame and door to expand and contract during the different seasons.

The hot humid temperatures of Dallas summers cause the wood to swell. This means you’ll want a larger gap to allow for these changes. Use shims to hold the door jamb in place.

Fill the gap with weather stripping as it will allow the wood to expand and contract while providing insulation.

10. Level the Door Unit with Shims

If you test-fit the door and find it’s not even, you’ll need to level the shim unit. You can do this by placing shims under the jamb unit or threshold until the door hangs plumb.

You’ll also need to place and adjust shims around the door frame and rough opening. Pay close attention to the hinge side door jamb to ensure it’s plumb. Add shims behind the hinge areas as necessary.

Keep adjusting until the door unit is square and there’s an even gap around the entire frame. You can nail the temporary blocks to the wall to hold the door in place.

Those installing an exterior door will need to check the threshold to ensure it seals properly. If not, make adjustments as necessary.

11. Check the Alignment & Attach Hinges

Check the alignment by adding a few security screws or nails to the hinge side of the door jamb. There are a couple of different ways to do this.

The first is to place two security screws around 2 1/2 inches into the top hinge. Install a third security screw in the center hinge and make sure all three are tight.

The second way is to screw two temporary 3-inch screws through the hinge-side of the door jamb. Place one about 2 inches above the top hinge and the second 2 inches from the center hinge.

When you let go or remove the temporary blocks, the door should remain plumb. If it doesn’t, loosen the screws and make adjustments with shims as necessary.

Now you can securely attach the hinges to the jamb with screws. Pre-hung doors should come with screws to attach the hinges to the jamb. Once everything is in place, you can cut the shims to fit flush with wall and jamb.

12. Adjust & Attach the Lock Side

After you’ve attached the hinges, you’ll need to check out the lock side of the door. Make sure the latches on the door and door jamb align. Place a shim behind the top half of the latch plate area.

For extra strength, you can add a 2 1/2 inch construction screw behind the latch plate. The latch plate should cover the construction screw and shouldn’t interfere with the other latch plate screws. This prevents the latch side of the jamb from sliding out of place if the door slams shut violently.

Attach the latch plate using the smaller screws provided by the manufacturer.

13. Caulk the Exterior Door

Check the threshold of your exterior door to make sure it has a tight seal. If everything looks good, you can start caulking around the exterior of the doorway.

Most exterior doors need a line of paintable caulk around the edge of the door frame and exterior wall. This seals the door and prevents bugs, moisture, and air from entering your home.

Fill any holes and cracks in the areas around your exterior door. Use weather stripping as extra insulation in areas where applicable.

14. Pick Doors Appropriate to Your Climate

Almost any door can work in any climate. There are, however, some that may degrade faster than others.

Wood is a beautiful door material and works well in the northern climates. But it isn’t the best option for everyone. Fiberglass and steel doors tend to hold up better than wood in southern climates, like Dallas, Texas.

Look for door styles that fit the look and feel of your home. While this isn’t essential, a good-looking and properly installed door will boost the value of your home.

15. Specialty Door Tips

Some specialty doors, like pocket doors, glass doors, and French doors will have more door installation steps. Look for kits that come with hardware and directions to make the process a little easier. If you decide to install your door, make sure to carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Install Your Doors the Right Way!

Follow these helpful Dallas door installation tips to make your next home improvement project a breeze. Your doors will look great and function well for years to come.

Do you need help with your next door installation project? Make a service request here at Mr. Handyman of Dallas. We have the skills and experience to help you with any of your Dallas home improvement needs.