Doors can be purchased in several configurations and installation can range from fairly easy to moderately difficult depending on the type of door you buy and where you're installing it. Interior and exterior door installations are similar, but there are a few extra steps when setting an exterior door that help prevent water intrusion.
Interior Door Installation for the DIYer
Interior doors are normally sold either already hung in a jamb (pre-hung) or as just a slab and you build your own or use an existing jamb. Some manufacturers offer pre-hung doors in split jambs that make installation easier and can be ideal for beginning DIYers. The basic tools needed for a pre-hung door installation are a hammer, 10d finish nails, nail set, wood shims, 4-foot level, and possibly a hand saw.
- Center the door in the opening and make sure it's handed correctly
- Adjust the height of the door based on your floor covering; you want about 1/2 inch between the bottom of the door and the top of your finished floor. If your floor is hardwood or tile, you may need to trim the jamb on each side
- Level up the hinge side of the jamb using shims between the jamb and the framing at about hinge height to hold in place
- Nail hinge side of jamb through shims, but leave nails out partially for the time being
- Level up other side of jamb making sure gap between door slab and jamb is about equal all the way around
- Install shims at jamb head and remaining side; check door for proper gap one more time and then nail
- Check door for proper operation, finish nailing, and install trim
Installing just a door slab often requires building the jamb, routing in hinges, and possibly even drilling for the lock-set. This type of door installation should be left for the experts unless you're an experienced DIYer.
Exterior Door Installation
Exterior doors don't require any additional tools for installation, but you should have a sill pan to set the door in and exterior sealant for under the pan. The sill pan and sealant provide additional insurance against water intrusion and can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Once the pan is set you can follow the steps for an interior door installation for most exterior doors. The articles below may answer any other interior and exterior door questions you have.
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