Over time homeowners tend to get a little bored with the look of their home’s exterior and start to think about updating the looks. Exterior renovations will do the trick but that type of work can be costly and a large commitment. One way that homeowners can affordably change the look of their home’s exterior is to change the doors. Going from something like a plain white fiberglass door to a beautiful exterior door made of wood can dramatically change the looks of any home. However new doors are not always easy for non-professionals to install themselves.
There are ways to simplify exterior door installation. In this article, we will share some tips from experts that will help even a novice be able to install an exterior door properly.
Get Some Help
You may be hesitant to ask someone to come help with a do-it-yourself type project, but it can certainly be a big help. It’s almost a necessity if you are hanging a heavy exterior door. Think about a family member who has some free time or a friend that owes you for helping him move. Maybe all you need is a slight push here are there to line up your new exterior door correctly but having some assistance will free up to do such things as drilling and hammering.
Buy a Prehung Exterior Door
When you buy a new exterior door it is going to come in one of two ways. It can be a regular door which you will mount into the old door frame or it will be a prehung door that comes already set in its own frame. Of the two, a prehung door is much simpler to align and install. With this type of door, it’s already on hinges so your main door installation tasks will only be to align it properly and secure it to the wall. This is much simpler than going through the extra steps of attaching the door to hinges and then shimming it into place on the old door frame. It also leaves much less room for measuring and alignment imperfections.
Measure the Old Door
Many people will tell you a lot of different ways you should measure door openings in order to get a door to fit. Much of this is unnecessary. Your old door should tell you just about everything you want to know about the dimensions of the door you will order. Carefully measure the door that needs to be replaced and then use those measurements when ordering your new door.
Check the Rough Opening Before Making a Door Purchase
Even though you’ve measured, there is a small chance that the new door still will not fit. Before ordering a replacement door, take some quick measurements of the door opening. This will show you if the opening is as square as it needs to be.
Start by measuring the height of the opening from top to bottom towards the left side and then the right side. Next, measure side to side at the top and bottom. In order for your new door to fit properly, each set of top to bottom measurements must be within a ½” or less of each other and the same goes for the two side to side measurements. If not you will have to take steps to square the old door opening.
Attach Some Temporary Blocks to the Jamb on Prehung Doors
It’s absolutely critical to get your new exterior door lined up properly if it’s going to work right. Chances are you will take several measurements to do this. It’s hard to hold the new door in place after it has been plumbed. This is true even if you have an extra set of hands helping you. That’s why many professional trim carpenters will add some temporary wooden blocks to the jam to hold it in place.
Just some cut up 5” pieces of old 2”x4” limber will nicely do the trick. Attach 3 blocks top, center, and bottom on the non-hinged side and 2 blocks on the hinged side. Position the blocks on the hinged side in a place where they will not interfere with any shims you need to install. Don’t worry about nail holes in the door jamb either because the casing on the finished door will cover them.
Make Sure the Floor Is Perfectly Level
Unless you installed your old exterior door yourself, then you will never know what you are going to run into when you remove the old door and go to install a new one. Many trim carpenters will choose speed over precision when it comes to installing doors because they know how to quickly make them fit. The floor level is the most likely area a trim carpenter will cut corners. An unlevel floor can really give you fits during your install. Take the time to trim and sand the floor so it’s level below where your new exterior door will be installed.
A Little Common Sense During Any Exterior Door Installation Process Goes a Long Way
Even the most detailed exterior door DIY installation tips and tricks may not apply to your specific situation or something unusual that you may run into. Don’t panic if this happens to you as you are installing your new door. Just take a step back and take a deep breath and look at things logically. You are dealing with mostly drywall, wood floors, and wood door frames. These are all materials that can be slightly modified with the right tools. A little common sense will tell you where you can trim here or sand there to overcome any problem you have getting your new exterior door to fit right. If you take the advice here and use some common sense while working you will end up with a nicely installed new exterior door.