How to Install a Metal Door Frame Into a New Masonry Wall Opening

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In masonry walls, metal door frames are often used in place of traditional wooden ones. They are made from sheets of steel to offer increased strength and durability. The steel is much more resistant to moisture and temperature changes than a wood frame, and will not rot or warp. When installing these frames in a masonry wall, most manufacturers recommend that the frame is installed before the brick or block. If the doors need to be installed after the walls are complete, special anchors are required to fasten the frame in place.

Things You'll Need

  • Welded steel frame
  • Level
  • Shims
  • Concrete anchors
  • Impact gun/nailer
  • Wire or T-anchors
  • Spreader bars
  • Metal jacks or wood braces
  • Expansion bolts
  • Drill with masonry bit

Before Walls are Complete

  • Choose the right frame. Steel frames in masonry openings should have 4-inch headers, rather than the standard 2-inch header. This will enable the top of the frame to line up with the masonry coursings. The jamb depth of the frame should be equal to the planned thickness of the surrounding walls.

  • Wait until the layout of the walls is complete, then confirm the door locations to make sure they are correctly marked on the floor. Make adjustments as needed so the doors are correctly positioned.

  • Set the frame on the floor in the spot where it will be installed. With both jambs resting on the floor, use your level to check that the frame is square and level. Add wooden shims under the jambs until the header is completely level.

  • Fasten the frame to the floor by shooting concrete bolts through the sill anchors at the base of each jamb.

  • Check both sides of the frame to make sure there are wire anchors or T-strap anchors attached at roughly the same elevation as each hinge. If no anchors are in place, weld three anchors into each jamb so that one anchor is located at each of these elevations.

  • Use metal jacks or wood braces to hold the frame in place. The braces should be angled to support the frame and keep it secure as masonry is constructed around it. Many pre-built systems are available that will help with this task if you don't want to construct bracing components using lumber.

  • Embed the wire or T-anchors into the mortar as the block or brick is installed. The anchors should sit between the rows of masonry so they are firmly held in place.

  • Wait until all masonry work is complete before removing bracing or supports from the frame.

After Walls Are Complete

  • Select the right size frame for the job. Choose a frame that is 1/2-inch smaller than the opening in width and 1/4-inch smaller in height. The jamb depth should be equal to the wall thickness, and a 4-inch header should be used if it will fit with the existing masonry.
    Use frames that have been punched and dimpled for use with existing wall anchors (EWA). This is a standard option for metal door frames. The manufacturer will have created three holes on each jamb and back each one with EWA preparations.

  • Measure the height of each dimpled area on the frame. Pre-drill holes in the masonry on either side of the opening at these locations. You'll need a drill with a masonry bit to make these holes.

  • Place the frame in the opening and install expansion bolts into each of the dimpled areas on the frame. The expansion bolts may be driven in with an impact gun or hammered in depending on the type of bolt you're using. Expansion bolts are designed to expand inside the brick or block to securely hold the frame in place.

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