An energy efficient pre-hung door will enhance the energy efficiency of your home while increasing security, adding curb appeal and improving energy savings.
An installation tool such as a level is invaluable when installing new doors. Before beginning, use this level to check that your walls are level (even and vertical), shimming any corners as necessary.
Measure the Opening
Before purchasing a pre-hung door, it’s essential that you understand its swing (whether an inswing or outswing). If unsure, insert your finger between two exposed hinge pins; if it grabs onto your finger easily then that indicates an inswing door.
With a tape measure in hand, take measurements of the rough opening dimensions for your frame. Remove any trim or molding that surrounds it to get accurate readings, while checking that any studs behind this trim are level and plumb.
First, measure the width between framing members. When ordering your pre-hung door, specify this jamb width to ensure it fits within its frame. Also make note of its height from bottom sill to top sill on both sides – this information will assist with ordering pre-hung doors that will fit perfectly!
Remove the Existing Door
When installing a pre-hung door into an existing frame, the first step in its installation should be removing the old door. You can do this by tapping lightly on its hinge pins with a nail (Photo 1) until its hinge knuckles pop open, at which time either pull out or drive them out with your nail flat.
At this step, enlist the assistance of someone else. Lay the new door on sawhorses and place it into its rough opening so its top edge and lockset hole are flush with both doorframe and house framing.
Use a tape measure to check both diagonals of your door frame to ensure it is square. If it isn’t, shimming may be required or you could install a new slab door without replacing its frame – though it might not hang as tight.
Cut the Jambs
Once you’ve removed and cleaned out the rough opening, cut new head jambs and side jambs to match what was measured in Step 2. Additionally, this is a good opportunity to clean walls as well as remove existing trim.
If the building settled, use a utility knife to cut away existing casing that lines both sides of the doorway (this might be easier than prying with a chisel). If you plan to reuse any trim that lines either side, simply sand its edges. On hinge side of frame shim it flush with the studs; check level to make sure everything is level before adding additional shims on latch side to keep door shut without hitting frame when closed.
Shim the Jambs
Check that the door is centered and plumb by using a carpenter’s level to check its placement in its opening. If it’s off center, add shims on both hinge sides of the jamb until it lies flat against the wall.
Shimming the latch side of a frame should follow a similar process to when you used hinge side shims. Once your frame is centered and plumb, use nails through each hinge location’s stud to nail through all shims into each stud location to secure it in place.
Replace the middle screws on each hinge with longer ones that will go through both shims and framing for maximum protection against future hardware installation, when installing door hardware. This will prevent them from coming loose later when installing it.
Hang the Door
To ensure a seamless door opening and closing experience, it’s essential that the hinge side of its frame be plumb. Use a level to check this, adding wooden shims under hinge rebates until they align perfectly with both walls and studs.
Position your new door in its frame, secure it with wedges, and fasten one of its top hinges to it before testing its operation. Ensure it opens and closes smoothly before doing this step again to verify its functionality.
With a level or plumb bob, check that walls and trimmer studs are level. If they’re out of square, insert shims beneath side jambs until the head jamb is level with both walls and studs.