Adding an exterior door to a home is one of the best ways to improve its curb appeal. It’s a DIY project that can be done by almost anyone. However, a few tips how to install a door at home can make the process much easier and help ensure that your door is properly installed.
Start with the right measurements. Measure the height and width of the existing door frame. If your new door is a different size, you will need to adjust the rough opening size accordingly. This is why it’s important to have a friend or partner on hand to assist you.
Be sure to have a level and a pencil handy as you take measurements. It’s also a good idea to write down each measurement as you make it so that you won’t have to go back and repeat the process later.
When measuring the width of a door jamb, be sure to include any casing or trim on both sides of the door opening. This can be tricky to do as the wood may not be perfectly straight, but it is crucial for a proper fit.
Aim for a gap of about 1/8 inch on each side of the opening, or less. This allows you to set the door latch and strike plate in the door and will prevent it from swinging open or closed on its own.
Before you hang your new door, make sure that the hinge mortises (the area where the hinges sit) are cut correctly. If you don’t, the hinges will not be able to attach to the door and will pull off when you open and close the door. To test this, slip a hinge leaf into each mortise and use your level to check that the top of the hinge is flush with the door edge. If it’s not, chisel away a bit more wood to correct the problem.
Once you’ve made sure that the hinges are in the correct position, it’s time to test-fit your door. This is when your partner will come in handy as he or she can help you to hang the door and make sure it’s square and plumb. Once you’re satisfied with the results, tack shims along the hinge side of the rough opening.
Shims are pieces of angled wood that you can use to elevate areas where an uneven or out-of-plumb wall is preventing the door from hanging properly in its rough opening. When installing shims, place them as needed along the hinge side of the rough opening, making sure to leave about 1/2 inch of clearance underneath the bottom edge of the door. Once you’ve added shims as needed, be sure to test-fit the door again to make sure that it hangs evenly and plumb. Then add the strike plate and any other finishing touches to your door installation. Be sure to test-fit the door and make any necessary adjustments before caulking and painting.
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