How to Install a New Door in an Old Frame


Installing a new door requires some precision and attention to detail, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated—especially if you can reuse an existing frame. In fact, assuming you can find a new door to match the dimensions of the one you need to replace, hanging a new door in an old frame can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-hung door unit
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Level
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Nails (4d finish, 8d framing)
  • Pry bar
  • Wood shims
  • Measure the old door, and select a new one that is the same size. Consider whether you want a light and inexpensive hollow-core door, or a heavier and stronger door made of solid wood. As long as the height and width match, you should be fine to choose either type of door, regardless of the old door’s type. In addition, you can save time and hassle by selecting a prehung door unit, which will have the jambs and hinges already installed. Split-jamb and flat-jamb models are equally easy to install, so choose whichever you prefer.

  • Carefully remove the old casing, door, jambs and hinges. You don’t need to be exceptionally careful in doing so, unless you plan to reuse any of these components. For example, when removing the casing (decorative trim) around the doorway, you may want to save it to put back on once the new door is in place.

  • Use a tape measure, level and square to evaluate the door frame. Your rough opening needs to be approximately 2 inches wider and 1 or 2 inches taller than the new door unit. If your corners are out of square or your boards are not level, you can use a pry bar or hammer to try to reposition them, or even insert some wood shims.

  • Place the new door unit into the old frame. Use your tools from step 3 to ensure that the door is placed properly into the frame and is also square and level. Check the space between the jambs and framing boards to be sure it is even all the way around the door as well.

  • Insert wood shims between the jambs and framing boards at regular intervals (e.g., every 6 to 10 inches). Be sure you have shims next to each of the hinges. When you finish, use your level one more time to ensure that everything is aligned just right.

  • Nail through the jambs and shims with 8d framing nails to anchor the door unit to the framing boards. Begin near the hinges and proceed around the door frame.

  • If your new door does not already have hardware in place, install a doorknob or handle using the holes that should be drilled in the non-hinge side. Any hardware you buy should come with specific installation instructions.

  • Finish the door by installing casing around it to cover the space between the jambs and frame. If you can’t reuse the old trim, you will need to cut new trim to fit and nail it into place with 4d finish nails.

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