If you need to install a front door and you’re thinking about embarking on a DIY project then go no further. These DIY instructions on how to install a door frame and front door will guide you through the process step by step.
You don’t need to be a master craftsman to install front doors but there are some things that you will need before you undertake this task, and any knowledge about tools and/or wood is a plus. Installing entry doors can be tricky, but following this guide will make your task a bit easier.
Note: Installing entrance doors requires working with tools so you should proceed with caution, we take no responsibility for any injuries or damages that occur using this process; if you’re unsure of how to install front doors or you’re unsure of any parts of the process then seek help from a professional. If you’re unsure then ask a professional.
This is how you should install front doors; follow these steps to successfully install an entrance door frame and door:
1.What do you want /need from your front door? The first step in the process is to think about is what you want or need from your entry door. Yes, front doors open and close, but there are other functions that you may need from your front door. Entrance doors can look good and be the gateway to your home, but they have other functions as well.
Depending on the space that you’re installing the front door, you may have one or several needs or wants for your front door. Things to think about are:
Does it need to have aesthetic appeal and function simply (act as a gateway)? Or does it need additional functions as well? For example, entry doors may need to be sound proof, provide security etc.
Do you need it to be space saving? For example, like a sliding door.
Entry doors can have additional features like glass panels, so think about the additional features you want (if any).
2. Survey the space
Before you decide on the type of entry door you’ll be using, you need to do an initial survey of the space where you’re installing it, to determine if your needs and wants for the front door fit within the space, as well as to save you time when it comes to the actual installation. Installing front doors can be easy if you do the prep work up front.
Firstly, survey the space to see how a front door will fit into it. Check how the entry door will open; there could be restrictions when opening the door in a small space so it may be better opening inwards rather than outwards; generally, entrance doors open inwards but this depends on your space. Knowing the space and how the front door will fit into the space is key to getting it right.
Entrance doors need to be flush with the opening they’re in, however the physical opening where you plan to install the frame and front door may or may not be square, plumb and level. Square means corners are 90 degrees, level means straight and is measured by a tool called a “level”, and plumb is vertical, most accurately gauged by a plumb bob.
Inspecting the opening and the floor to check for level and plumb, prior to installation, lets you know whether you need shims (a thin and often tapered or wedged piece of material, used to fill small gaps or spaces between objects), and where you may need them. Without doing the survey, you may blow out your installation time.
Now that you know what you want when it comes to entry doors, as well as the physical details of the space, you can start thinking about the type of front door you want to install into the space.
3. Measure the opening
Measure the opening to get the exact measurements, so you can use these when selecting your frame and front door. When you’re discussing front doors with whomever you’re buying it from, they’re guaranteed to require the measurements. You can do this step after selecting your entry door, but you may have more work cut out for you if the front door you select and the physical opening and space aren’t compatible.
Measure the height of the opening, and then measure the width at both the top and the bottom. Then, check each side with a level. The sides don’t have to be perfectly plumb (they rarely are), but they do need to be close enough to allow adequate room for your door. If your rough opening is 12 mm bigger than your door, but the sides of the opening are each 12 mm out of plumb, then the opening isn’t big enough to hang your door properly. Finally, check to see if the walls are plumb.
4. Select your front door and frame
Now that you know what you’re working with and how your wants and needs fit into it, you can decide on the type of front door you’re going to use.
It’s a minefield out there with all the choices of entrance doors available, so speak to an expert if you’re feeling overwhelmed, they’ll advise you which entrance door is best suited to your needs as well as the space.
5. Make sure you have everything you need
Having everything you need before proceeding with the frame and front door installation will make your job that much easier, so be prepared. Remember installing entry doors can be a challenge if you haven’t done the work upfront.
Measurements of your frame and front door
The actual front door and frame that you’ve selected
Shims (if required)
Saw to trim door jambs (if floor isn’t level)
Hammer and finish nails or air compressor and finish nailer
Long screws to secure the door
Construction screw to secure latch side
6. Level the floor
The most important step of installing front doors is making sure the bottom of each doorjamb (a jamb is the vertical portion of the door frame onto which a door is secured) is at the correct height. If you’re installing an entry door on a finished floor and the floor isn’t level, you’ll have to cut a little off the bottom of one of the jambs.
Use a level to check the floor. Rest a level across the opening and level it with one or more shims. Mark the shim at the thickest point, and measure the thickness of the shim at the mark. That’s exactly how much you’ll need to cut off the jamb at the opposite side of the opening.
7. Use plumb lines and shims
Plumb the sides of the door frame with shims. Once you know whether you need to shim up the base of the door frame due to an unlevel floor, you can use a plumb line to help you shim the sides of the frame. Hang the plumb line from the top of the frame on either side of the door, and measure from the framing to the wall to know which sides are out of plumb and where to place your shims. This will roughly plumb the framing to prep for the casing frame; use the measurements of the casing to know how much you need to adjust if the door framing is out of plumb. Front doors and openings don’t always match exactly so this step will most likely be required.
8. Cut down the high side of the jamb (if required)
If your floor isn’t level then you will need to cut down the high side of the jamb, using a saw. It’s easy to cut off the wrong jamb, so make sure you cut the jamb that rests on the high side of the floor. It’s the one on the opposite side of the opening where you marked your shim; a rafter square works well as a saw guide.
9. Use blocks to level jamb bottoms
Tip of the day: If you’re installing an entrance door on an unfinished floor and need space under the jambs for carpet, then just rest the jambs on temporary blocks while you’re hanging the front door. Adjust the size of the blocks so the bottoms of the jambs are on a level plane. You can leave a space under the jambs of anywhere between 3/8 inches to 5/8 inches, depending on the thickness of the carpet and pad.
10. Fit the Frame
Move the door frame/casing into place for a rough fitting and for final adjustments. Once your shims are all in place, you can fit the casing into place. Because you’ve done all your shimming and adjustments prior to putting the casing into place, this part of the installation should be relatively simple, since the frame will slide into place on top of the existing shims and be roughly level and plumb. However, you may still need to make small adjustments after the frame is moved into place, all of which can be done with wooden shims to jimmy the front door in the direction that you need to make it plumb and level.
11. Mount the frame Mount the case of the door onto the wall framing. Use finish nails, and nail through the case and shims into the framing of the wall itself. Don’t try to nail into an area where there are no shims, because there will be an open gap between the door casing and the wall framing itself. You can fill in any open gaps with wood shims and nail the case into place accordingly. Use an air compressor and finish nailer or a hammer and regular finish nails.
12. Attach front door and check gap at door stops
Once you’ve attached the front door, remove the plug that holds the door slab in place, and make sure the door opens and closes properly. The front door should come in contact with the door stop evenly the whole length of the stop. If one side of the entry door hits the stop first, you’ll have to adjust the jambs by moving either the top side or the bottom side of the jamb in or out, depending on which part of the front door hits the door stop first.
13. Install longer screws in each hinge
Securing entry doors is important. Replace one of the hinge screws on the top hinge with a longer screw that goes right through the casing and into the wall framing to keep the front door from sagging over time. If your screw won't fit through the hinge casing, then you can bury the screw into the wood beneath the hinge casing, then mount the hinge casing with the other two screws over the top. You can repeat the process for the other hinges if you want additional security for your entrance door. Front doors get used all the time so securing the other hinges is recommended.
14. Secure the latch side
To prevent the latch side from being knocked out of place when the entry door is slammed, install a long construction screw behind the latch plate. Pre-drill and countersink a hole in the corner of the latch plate space so it won’t interfere with the latch plate screws. Don’t use longer screws in the latch plate holes because they’re too close to the edge and can split the framing lumber.
There you have it, installing entrance doors has never been easier. This simple step by step guide to installing a frame and entrance door will help your DIY project be successful. Ensure that you do the prep work before you start the entry door installation so you save time.
Installing entry doors can be tricky so if you’re unsure of any part of the process, don’t put yourself at risk, rather speak to a professional. They have extensive experience with installing frames and entry doors professionally; they’ve more than likely installed hundreds of front doors so they know what to do and how to use the tools correctly. If you’re unsure then ask a professional.