Installing a New Front Door

4 Easy Steps for Installing a New Front Door in Your House

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Your home must have a front door. If you have been living in the same home for many years, your front door is worn out due to frequent use. However, you can buy a new front door for your house if the older one is not working efficiently. But what is the process of installing a new front door?

There are many benefits to getting a new front door, including the security of your house, the beauty of your house, and the resale value of your house. Additionally, you need not invest more in the maintenance and repair of your older front door once you buy the new one.

In this post, we'll walk you through installing a new front door, from pre-installation preparation to finishing touches, list the essential benefits of installing a new exterior door, and explain everything you need to know about new door installation. Read on!

Installing a New Front Door (Step by Step)

Step 1: Pre-Installation Preparation

I). Gather your tools

You will need a variety of tools to remove the old door and install the new one. Before starting the process, ensure you have everything you need. If you don't have the tools readily available at home, we recommend visiting the nearest hardware store to purchase them.

Image Source: titanlite.com.au

  • Tape measure or ruler: to measure the existing and new doors and frames
  • Hammer, nails, and screwdriver (depending on the nails securing your old door) to remove the old door and install the new door
  • Leveler to ensure everything stays level (you will have a hard time opening your new door if it is at an angle).
  • Caulk to fix the insulation and door frame in place.
  • Wood shims to secure the door at the right level if needed.
  • Insulation helps prevent winter winds from whipping around your door.

ii). Determine the type and style of the door.

Get the new door before you remove the old one from its frame. The type and size will depend on the door frame size and your needs. You don't want to invest in the wrong-sized door that doesn't fit.

  • Wood doors usually look better but are not as good at keeping out the weather as fiberglass or steel doors.
  • Steel doors are also usually the least expensive. However, wood and fiberglass doors tend to cost about the same, depending on the style of the door.

iii). Take accurate measurements.

Having everything ready to go with your new door and finding out it is too big or too small can be a significant setback. To avoid such a situation, we recommend taking measurements of your old door and applying them to the new door.

Image Source: modadoors.co.uk

  • You can check the width of a replacement door by taking measurements from stud to stud across the old door's top, middle, and bottom. The stud refers to the side of the door. The smallest figure is a rough estimate of the width.
  • Measure the width of the door jamb.
  • Measure the center and both sides of the old door from the top of the door to the floor to get an accurate door height. The smallest figure is also a rough estimate.
  • Compare the measurements of the old door to those of the new door. If they match up closely, you should be fine.

Step 2: Removing the Old Door

Once you have done the pre-installation preparation, it is time to remove the existing door.

I). Ensure Safety Precautions

Put on the necessary protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, before you start the removal process.

ii). Remove interior and exterior trim.

This step requires removing the door, the existing exterior trim, and the old insulation. But before you can remove the door and main door frame, you need to cut the caulking, remove the exterior and interior trim, and remove the 14 nailing boards around the exterior of the frame and any nails or shims sticking out of the trimmer studs.

Image Source: jlcatj.gob.mx

Additionally, remove the door towards the end of the process before removing the mainframe to help reduce dust during demolition. Also, remove the hinge pins and detach the existing door from the hinges using a nail set or a screwdriver and a hammer.

  • You can insert a nail set into the hinge pin's bottom hole for most hinges and strike it upward with a hammer. Keep striking the pin upward with the hummer until it comes out.
  • Break the seal between the molding and the wall by scoring the caulking. Then, carefully remove the molding with a hammer and a pry bar. Pry away the hinge jamb, framing, and threshold. You can now remove the old caulking.

iii). Create a rough opening around the frame.

Measure the width between the seal under the old threshold, the head jamb, the side jambs, and the thickness of the wall. The rough door opening must be at least 2.54cm (1 inch) wider and taller than the external measurements of the door system being installed.

Ensure the rough opening and the subfloor are levels. You can use a beveled board or shims to level it. Besides, a spacer board may be required if the new door needs to clear an extremely high floor, such as a thick carpet.

iv). Ensure everything is level.

Image Source: thumbtack.com

While working on the door, ensure you regularly check with your leveler that everything remains level. If things are not level, you might end up with door and frame alignment issues, which will cause more problems later on. You especially want to check that the hinge is perfectly level.

v). Clean and prepare the door frame.

Check the door frame for damage, termites, rot, or other problems. Then, replace or repair any damaged or worn-out sections as needed. Also, clean the door frame to remove dust, debris, dirt, and old caulk. Before installing the new door, check that the frame is plumb and make any other required changes.

Step 3: Installing the New Door

I). Dry-fit the new door

This means you place the new door where it will be installed to ensure everything fits properly. If you find any issues at this point (for example, the door doesn't fit or things aren't even), you need to address them first.

Image Source: pmcaonline.org

As you place the door into the door frame, ensure its bottom is flush with the floor and fits snugly with the frame.

ii). Apply caulk.

Put two thick beads of caulk along the rear and front edges of the sub-sill, where the sill will be placed. Keep caulking up the rough framing's sides for another 2 inches (5.08 cm). This weatherproofs the door opening.

iv). Insert the door into the opening.

To install a door, start with the bottom and tilt the top toward you before sliding it into position. We recommend working from outside the house when installing the door into the opening.

  • Depending on the door's weight, you may need a friend's help lifting and installing it.
  • The door should be aligned at the center of the opening, and the frame should fit snugly into the opening's bottom.

iii). Install the hinges.

Image Source: homedepot.com

Mark the locations of the hinge screw holes on both the frame and door. Drill pilot holes with the right drill bit, then use the screws that came with the door or those that are an excellent fit to attach the hinges to the door and the frame. Ensure the hinges are secure and snugly aligned.

iv). Shim the rest of the door frame.

Put shims behind any places on the hinge side of the pre-hung door where hinges will be attached to the door frame. The door will later be secured to the rough opening in these places.

Image Source: wcmanet.org

Position the frame assembly and shims on the door's hinge side so the door plumbs in both directions. Finally, a continuous space should be about 1/8 inch (0.3175 cm) wide between the door's edge and the jamb.

v). Secure the door temporarily.

After making all the necessary adjustments, secure the door temporarily using 16-d finishing nails. Then, lightly drive the nails via the hinge jamb close to where the hinges will be installed. At this stage, you shouldn't put the nails in.

Step 4: Finish Installing the New Front Door

I). Test the swing of the door.

The pre-hung door should be easy to open and close. Sometimes pre-hung exterior doors may have an adjustable sill, which might be handy if the door isn't correctly adjusted. Besides, you want to avoid having the door scrape the floor inside your home.

Image Source: howstuffworks.com

From the outside, check for even contact between the weatherstripping on the frame section opposite the hinge jamb and the door front. Adjust the jamb by moving it in or out at the top or bottom. Also, examine the inside face of the door's edges. Besides, maintain a 1/8 inch (0.3175cm) continuous space between the jamb around the door and the edges.

ii). Secure door jambs

Draw 7.62cm (3 inches) hinge screws through the shims on the hinge jamb. Then secure the remaining jambs around the door, ensuring you always drive the nails or screws into the shims, whichever the manufacturer recommends.

Install a sturdy shim behind the lock strike. Remember to check that the door assembly is still correctly adjusted regularly. Besides, install the lock strike by screwing it through the shim.

iii). Install insulation.

Finish installing a new front door by putting loosely packed fiberglass insulation around the door frame's edges. Install interior trim as recommended by the manufacturer. Then, apply paintable caulk along all of the intersections and joints of the brick mold and the trim.

Ensure you wear gloves to protect your hands from getting caulk on them. Then, fill the holes left by the screws or nails with wood filler and allow them to dry.

iv). Install the doorknob, lockset, and other accessories.

Image Source: wcmanet.org

Install the doorknob, lockset, and any extra accessories, such as a kickplate or door viewer, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Check that they are correctly aligned and working.

Essential Benefits of Getting a New Front Door

There are many benefits to getting the new front door, which is given below:

Image Source: pella.com

1. Enhanced Curb Appeal

Enhancing curb appeal is the first essential benefit of getting a new front door. If you replace the older front doors with the new ones, it will enhance the safety of your home. For instance, if your older front doors are single front doors, you can replace them with double exterior front doors because it will further increase the beauty of your home.

2. A New Design for Your Front Door

Another essential benefit of getting a new front door is getting the new design and style of your new aluminum front door after replacing your older front doors. For instance, if you want to replace the older wooden front door, you can choose the aluminum entrance door to increase its beauty and get a variety of colors and designs.

3. Ensures the Privacy and Safety of Your Property

If your older front door is made of clear glass, it cannot provide privacy because everyone can see you outside. In this case, you need to replace it with the new front doors, which must be obscure and decorative and ensure your privacy. You can choose fiberglass front doors to maintain your privacy. You can use the visual security alarm system in front of the external door to keep your property safe and secure.

4. Improve Front Door Security.

Another significant benefit of replacing the older front door with the new one is improved front door security. Suppose you want to secure your house from thieves. In that case, you need to buy an advanced front door with an innovative lock system and a spy camera to ensure the safety of your house in any condition. It will protect your house's property if you do not live inside for many days.

5. Energy-Efficient Front Door

If you replace the front door with a new one, the front's energy efficiency will increase. Buy a solid-plane front door after replacing your glass door. You will feel comfortable in the summer because it will not allow heating to come inside your house. And it will also maintain the temperature of the house in the winter.

Image Source: windowworldct.com

Furthermore, a front door with better insulation can help reduce heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) costs. Your cooling and heating systems can operate more effectively by reducing heat transfer and air leaks. This means they won't have to exert as hard or run for as long to maintain a favorable indoor temperature. Therefore, you should expect significant savings on your energy bills.

6. Reduced Maintenance

Another essential benefit of getting a new front door is the reduction in maintenance. You will have to maintain your older front doors many times, which will be costly. Once you buy the new front door, you do not need to invest in replacing and maintaining it regularly. It will save you time and money. So, you must get a new front door if your older one is not working efficiently.

7. Increases Home Value

Another essential benefit of getting the new front door is that it will increase the home's value during the sale. Buyers always see the two main things when buying your home: the doors and windows. And if your front door is in good condition, it may give you a handsome amount for the overall value of your home. So, you need to get the best and most attractive front door, which can increase the beauty and value of your home.

8. Personalization and Style

When you do a front door replacement, you can choose one that looks great and fits the rest of your home's architectural style. This customization usually adds a unique touch and makes your home unique from the rest of the neighborhood.

Image Source: pella.com

The material and finish of your new front door play a massive role in its overall appearance and style. For instance, wood doors offer a classic and warm aesthetic. In contrast, fiberglass doors mimic the texture and grain of the wood but provide improved durability and low maintenance.

On the other hand, steel doors offer a sleek and contemporary aesthetic. Therefore, we recommend considering your home's architectural style and preferences when choosing the material and finish.

Frequently Asked Questions on Installing a New Front Door

1. Can I install a new front door myself?

Yes, but installing doors is more complex than you may think, especially in older houses that have settled over time. Besides, installing a pre-hung exterior door involves carpentry and replacing interior and exterior trim. Also, some door installation first requires door assembly.

2. How do you install a front door from scratch?

To install a front door from scratch, you will need to do pre-installation preparation, like gathering your tools, determining the style and type of the new door, and taking measurements. Then, observing precautionary measurements, you will need to remove the old door, remove interior and exterior trim, create a rough opening around the frame, and ensure everything is level.

Now you can install the new door by applying caulk, inserting the door into the opening, installing the hinges, shimming the rest of the door frame, testing the swing of the door, securing door jambs, and installing insulation, lastly, installing the doorknob, lockset, keypad door lock system, and other accessories.

3. Can I replace the front door without replacing the frame?

Yes, however, if you ensure the door frame is still in good condition, and the new door panel is the same size as the old one, you can replace the door without having to repair the frame. Otherwise, if the existing door frame is warped, damaged, or unsuitable for the new front door, we recommend replacing it too. Consulting a professional can help determine the best course of action.

4. How do you tell if a door is installed correctly?

When correctly installed, doors need to be plumbed inside and outside (hinge to knob side). This means the hinge-side and lock-side frames are twisted in the rough opening. The door alignment needs to follow the same plane as the hinge side.

5. Which direction should the door be facing, inside or outside?

The main front door direction should be to the northeast, north, west, or east, as these directions are considered auspicious. Avoid having your main front door in the south, southwest, southeast, or northwest (north side) directions.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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