Sunday, February 15, 2015

Install a New Front Door!!

Are you looking to increase the curb appeal of your home?  If there's one thing that will change the look of your home, it's a new front door.  Have you thought about doing this yourself?  A lot of people are intimidated by this kind of project.  Sure it can be a little challenging, but with a little preparation and patience this can be done by the average homeowner.  This project will take approximately 4-6 hours to complete.  So if this is something you're ready to do, follow along with me as I walk you through the process.

Entry Door

What Tools Will You Need?
  • Cordless Drill
  • 3" screws
  • Level (4' or 6')
  • Door Shims
  • Silicone
  • Great Stuff (expandable spray foam)
  • Hammer 
  • Flat bar (pry bar)
  • Silicone
  • Reciprocating Saw (also known as a Sawzall)
Let's Get Started!

The first thing you'll need to do is remove everything that's attached to the outside of the door, such as a storm door and brick molding (trim around outside of door).  Simply removing screws from the frame will remove the storm door.  The brick molding can be removed by using a hammer and flat bar.  If you plan to reuse the molding, you'll need to be extra careful not to damage it!  Next we'll go to the inside where you'll find trim around the door.  By using the same hammer and flat bar, you'll need to remove this as well.

 Now that all the trim has been removed, you should be able to see the door jamb (this is the wood frame that the door is mounted to).  The jamb is probably fastened to the wall framing by nails or screws.  Some folks like to try and remove these fasteners but I prefer to just cut them out.  You will need to use the reciprocating saw (Sawzall) with a bi-metal blade (about 6-8" long).  By sliding the blade of the saw in between the door jamb and the wall frame, you can just cut through the nails and/or screws.  At this point, the only thing that should be holding the door jamb in would be possible silicone under the door threshold (if any was used originally).  You can use the flat bar to pry the jamb toward the outside of the house, prying a little on each side at a time.  If the threshold doesn't want to budge, try working the flat bar under it and prying it up also.  This may take a little time, but try to be patient, it will come out.  You can also use the saw to cut the jamb up into pieces and remove it that way as well, but I prefer to try and remove it in one piece.  Once the jamb is out, you will need to do a little housekeeping.  Remove any insulation, door shims, and/or nails and screws that may have fallen out and sweep the door opening real well.

Before you start to install the new door, it's always a good idea to "dry fit" it first.  With everything out of the doorway and all shipping/packaging accessories removed from the door, attempt to sit the door in the opening.  If the door has trouble going in the hole, there may be some adjustments needed to the jamb before installing.  This could mean opening up the hole in the wall at either the sides or the top using the reciprocating saw.  If you are replacing the old door with a newer one of the same size, more than likely everything should fit, though.  If things do fit, go ahead and pull the door back out of the hole and rest it up against the wall or in a safe place.  You will need to apply a heavy bead of silicone on the floor (under where the threshold will be sitting) making sure to put plenty on the ends.  This will help to seal under the doorway against water or air infiltration.  Now you can put the door back in the opening, making sure to sit it in the silicone, not sliding it though and smearing it.  

The next step will be to shim the space between the wall framing and the new jamb on the hinge side to make sure the jamb will attach solidly to the wall frame.  Tapered wood shims are designed to slide together from both sides and, thus being able to adjust to whatever gap you have to fill.  Once you have shims in place (usually Top, Middle and Bottom), using your level, make sure the door jamb is plumb from top to bottom on the hinge side and anchor it using 3" screws.  I like to pull the weatherstripping back and place the screw behind it.  This leaves the door with no screws showing when you're done.  You will now need to repeat the same process for the other side.  This time you will have to take in account the space between the door edge and the door jamb.  When shimming the door jamb on this side, make sure to adjust the shims so that the space remains equal and consistent from top to bottom.  At this point, the door is anchored and operable.

Now you're almost through!  One step you don't want to forget is insulation.  You will now need to seal off the door on the sides and the top against water and air infiltration.  You can either use fiberglass insulation pieces and stuff it between the wall and the jamb, or another method is to use expandable foam in a can and spray it in these areas.  I like this method better because it expands and fills every gap that there might be!  Once this is complete, you are ready to install trim around the door on the inside and outside.  After installing the doorknob and/or deadbolt, your job is now complete!!!  You now have a brand new front door.


My hopes are that this post has been beneficial to you and helped prepare you for this project.  Like I said earlier, with preparation and patience this can be done by just about anyone.  Good luck along the way!  Please feel free to leave me a comment and share any input you may have!

Cory