Install an Exterior Door

- Apr 06, 2019-

Exterior doors are an important security investment. Changing an exterior door can give your home an immediate upgrade. It's not too difficult a challenge for a beginning handy-person as long as you have the right tools and a little patience. 


1.Preparing the Door


1.Gather your tools. There are a number of tools you're going to need to remove the old door and put in the new door. Make sure that you have what you need before you start trying to do this operation. If you don't have these in your house, a trip to the nearest hardware store is in order.

2.Select the new door. Before you start ripping your old door out of its frame you want to get the new door. The size and type will depend on your needs and the size of the door frame. You don't want to get stuck with the wrong-sized door.

3.Check that the new door will fit. There's nothing worse than getting all primed to go with your new door only to discover that it is too big or too small. You can avoid this unfortunate situation by taking measurements of the old door and applying those measurements to the new door.

4.Remove interior and exterior trim. This requires removing the door as well as the existing exterior trim and old insulation. Before you can remove the door and main frame, you must cut the caulking, remove the interior and exterior trim, and remove the 1×4 nailing boards around the exterior of the frame and any shims or nails sticking out of the trimmer studs. To help minimize dust during the demolition, remove the door towards the end of the process prior to extracting the main frame. Using your hammer and a nail set (or a screwdriver), remove the hinge pins and detach your old door for the hinges.

5.Create rough opening around frame. You need to measure the width between the side jambs, the head jamb to the seal under the old threshold, as well as the thickness of the wall. The rough opening needs to be a minimum of 1 inch (2.54cm) wider and taller than the outside of the door system you'll be installing.

6.Make sure everything is level. While you're working you should periodically check with your leveler that everything is staying level. If things aren't level you might end up with a tilted door or frame, which will cause problems later on.


2.Fitting the Exterior Door


1.Dry-fit the new door. This means that you place the door where it's going to be set to make sure that everything is going to fit properly. If you find any problems at this stage (like the door doesn't fit, things aren't even) then you'll need to deal with those first.

2.Apply caulk. Apply two thick beads of caulk, along the front and rear edges of the subsill, where the sill will be placed. Continue applying the caulk approximately 2 inches (5.08cm) up the sides of the rough framing.

3.Insert door into opening. Place the bottom of the door first, tilting the top out toward you, then slide the door into place. It's best to work from the outside of the house when you're inserting the door into the opening.

4.Shim the rest of the door-frame. Place shims on the hinge side of the door, behind any points where hinges will be attached to the door frame. The door will be secured to the rough opening in these areas later.

5.Secure door temporarily. After you've made all of the necessary adjustments, secure the door temporarily, using 16d finishing nails. Lightly drive the nails through the hinge jamb, near where the hinges will be installed. Don't put the nails all the way in.


3.Finishing the Exterior Door


1.Test the swing of the door. It should open and close smoothly. Sometimes pre-hung doors will have an adjustable sill, which can be useful it the door isn't quite adjusted perfectly. You want to make sure that the door doesn't scrap the floor inside your house.

2.Secure door-jambs. Drive 3 inch (7.62cm) screws through the shims at the hinge sites on the hinge jamb. Secure the remaining jambs all the way around the door, always driving the screws or nails (whatever is suggested by the manufacturer) through the shims.

3.Install insulation. Finish the job by installing loosely packed, fiberglass insulation around the edges of the door frame. Install interior trim, following the manufacturer's instructions. Apply paintable caulk along all of the joints and intersections of the trim and the brick-mold.