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Installing a replacement door is a fairly easy DIY project that can help boost curb appeal for your home.

If you are asking yourself if "replacing my front door" is a good idea, remember your door is one of the first things people see. A pre-hung door is just that — A door already mounted to its frame. What the project entails is removing the old door, its frame, and then installing a new frame and then the new door. Since the new frame and door are already installed, half of your work is done. Let's get started. 

Before you start any D.I.Y. project be sure to fully read the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines for all products being used. Always wear safety goggles and any other protective gear suggested by the manufacturer; and if possible have an extra set of hands to help you out if you get into a jam. Be sure to D.I.Y. Safely.

Getting Started

There are a few common sense things to do first.

  • discount entry doors near meBefore you buy a pre-hung door,  make sure you note which direction it opens and whether or not you open the door with your right or left hand. This will help you pick the correct pre-hung door.
  • You want your new door and frame onsite and you want to make sure that they will fit into the area where your current door is. Measure and compare. In fact, do that a few times as not every home is built to specs.
  • The new door should be 1/2 inch shorter than the frames opening. The new door should be 3/4 of an inch narrower than the frames opening. 
  • Also, make sure that you check your new door and frame for damage. The last thing you want is to discover that something is missing or broken. 
  • Before you begin installing a replacement door, make sure to read the manufacturers instructions. Some manufacturer instructions are complex while other brands may not even have instructions. 
  • You are now ready to remove the old door and frame.


Exterior doorsRemoving the Old Door

  • Step 1: Remove the trim around the inside and outside of the old door. this also includes any insulation that may be present on your old door. You can do this using a pry bar and a small block of wood which gives you better leverage. 
  • Step 2: Remove the Door Hinge Pins. Do this using a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. The pins lift upwards and out. If they are struck, a little dish soap can help or even WD-40. Open the door a few times to work the lubricant around the pin. 
  • Step 3: Remove the door's hinges from the doorjamb and the door's sill. Most are installed using screws so a screwdriver makes this an easy task. 
  • Step 4: Remove the Old Frame. There are a variety of ways to do this. The easiest is to use a Sawzall or reciprocating saw to cut the nails that hold the frame to the wall. if there is not enough room for the saw's blade you will need to pull the nails  manually. With the nails gone, the frame should just slide right out. 

Removing the old door and jamb is that simple. 


Installing the Pre-hung Door

wood doorsWith the old door out of the way, fit the new door and frame into the old opening to make sure it all fits. If the fit is good, then proceed with the installation. 

  • Step 1: Ensure that the sub-sill is level, and in good condition. If not, you will need to level it or replace it. Typically, wooden shims are an easy way to level the sub-sill. If it looks like there is water damage, just replace the sub-sill. 
  • Step 2: Check the gap space between the door and sill. The goal is to make sure the new door will have enough room to open and close. You do this by measuring the distance between the bottom of the sub-sill and the bottom of the door and then measure from the top of the sub-sill to the top of your flooring. If the door fits, proceed. If not, then simply raise the door by attaching a small piece of wood to the top of the sub-sill. This will raise the door up so that when it opens it clears the flooring on the inside of your home. 
  • Step 3: Install the new door and frame. To do this run two beads of caulk along the top of the sub-sill about an inch from each edge. You can run a third bead down the middle of the sub-sill for added strength if you want. Do the same to the bottom of the new doors sill and then place the door and frame in the opening. 
  • Step 4: Secure the door. At this point, you want to secure the door so that you can finish the project. Most people gently drive a pair of wood shims into the space between the wall and the new frame. Do so just enough to hold the door but not crack the frame. The overall goal here is to make sure that the new door and its frame is square to the door's opening. You can adjust the shims until the door is true. 

Tip: add shims to the hinge and lock locations. Your goal is to make sure that there is an even space around the door. The door will need at least 1/8 inch gap so it can open and close. Screw the new frame to the shims at the door hinges. Once this is done test the door for easy open and closing. 


Finishing the Job

The last chores are easy.

Use an expandable spray foam to fill in the gaps between the new frame and the wall.  Be sure to remove the excess with a utility knife or putty knife. Check the door sill to make sure the fit is snug. If needed you can add weatherstripping to help make the fit more energy efficient.

All that is left to do at this point is to paint or stain the door if needed, install the locks, and reattach the trim. A good tip for painting or staining a door is to so with the door on sawhorses. 

Installing a pre-hung door is not a difficult task. You will need a second person to help lift and position the new door and frame. The process should take 2-5 hours for the install or 8-10 hours if painting or staining the new door is part of the job. Make sure you give yourself enough time to finish the project in one day. 


David S. loves to tell stories. He came from a fishing family so storytelling is likely genetic. His writing style translates easily to both blog and article formats. He is a patient writer who takes the time to understand your project. David writes a great deal about home living. His favorite place in the world is his home. He has a vast knowledge of antiques, art, and deep love of cooking. He likes to entertain and is the master of small parties and intimate dinners. They say home is where the heart is and they happen to be correct.