A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install an Exterior Door

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install an Exterior Door

Doors & Windows

As one door closes, another door opens.

Installing a new exterior door is an essential home improvement step. Exterior doors warp due to inclement weather. They creak on their hinges, and they break with use.

But many homeowners don’t know where to begin. They go to renovators and spend hundreds of dollars on work they can do themselves.

Look no further. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install an exterior door.

Get the Right Tools

Before you start the installation, you need to start with some basic tools. Head to your local home improvement center right away.

You will need a hammer, flat screwdriver, and oscillating saw. Test these out on a piece of wood. Make sure you can hold them firmly in your hands.

Buy a nail set, caulk gun, straight levels, and tape measure. If you have these at home, test them out to make sure they work. You need to make reliable measures for your installation to be successful.

Buy goggles, gloves, and a drop cloth. Debris will fly, and it can damage your eyes or cut your hands. Drop cloths collect dust and debris from damaging your floor.

Consider Your Doors

You have many exterior doors to choose from. But only a few of them will be right for your house.

You should first measure your doorway. Measure the height and width of your old door, rounding up to full inches. Then measure your door jamb, rough opening, and exterior opening.

Once you have the size down, consider aesthetics. You want a door that matches the exterior of your home. You can paint your door yourself, so keep this in mind if nothing matches perfectly.

Steel doors have tight-fitting frames. They are fully weather-stripped, resisting warping and swelling. They provide great insulation, but they may be hard to install.

Fiberglass doors are made from high-quality composites. They resist inclement weather and high stresses. They aren’t as insulating as steel doors, but they do help save energy.

Wooden doors provide an intricate and traditional appearance. They are thick, providing a good amount of security. Wood does warp, so select wooden doors for protected environments.

You can look into more specialized doors as well. Security door installation is ideal if you want maximum safety.

How to Remove Your Old Door

Using your hammer and nail set, you want to tap the hinge pins loose. You can then swing the door open and lift it off.

The old door will be heavy, so have someone else help you carry it out. Avoid hitting the door frame or interior walls.

You then want to go inside and remove the old trim. Protect your wall with a multitool or putty knife, and pry the trim off. Slice the caulking of the exterior trim and pry the trim off with a screwdriver.

Now you will need to remove the jambs. Cut through the side jambs with your oscillating saw. Then pry the jambs loose with your screwdriver.

Prepare Your New Door

With your old door frame removed, you can inspect the frame area. You may have a rotted sill or moldy wood. Cut this material out and install new material.

Use your straight levels to ensure that the sill is straight. It needs to form perpendicular angles with the sides of the door frame. If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to install your door.

You can build and straighten the sill with lumber. Once it seems straight, test your door in the opening. Continue to adjust until everything fits properly.

Once the sill is level and raised to the right height, install flashing tape. This will protect the sill from water and snow buildup. You can also install a sill pan that will prevent water from entering your home.

How to Install an Exterior Door

Apply caulk around the edges of your door frame. You will need a lot, so be patient.

You can then tack in your door. Use your levels to center the door in the opening, then tack it into place. Plumb and shim the hinge-side jamb.

You can then shim the latch-side jamb into place. Place wedges of cedar and insert them into gaps behind the hinges. Once you have shimmed the door, replace the hinge screws, and install casing nails into the door trims.

Caulk the outside of the door. Make sure the whole door frame is insulated. Fill nail holes in with caulk, and insulate over the caulk with weather stripping.

Install new interior trim. Cover gaps between the sill and flooring with beveled transitions and caulk.

Replace the casing on your doors and frames. You can then cut the shims off with a utility knife or saw.

Apply Some Finishing Touches

You can then install a new door lock and knob. Insert the latch through the two holes in your door. Place the tailpieces in through the latch bolt, then screw the handles together.

Use a screwdriver to avoid damaging the screws or door. Attach a strike plate to the door jamb, letting it fit the latch bolt.

If you want to paint your door, wait for the caulk and screws to set. Remove old paint, then sand the door.

You want a paint that will provide a smooth finish. Apply consistent brushstrokes that cover the surface without drips. Have a pair of tweezers nearby, so you can remove debris that messes up the paint.

Help for Your Home Improvement

Don’t close the door on home improvement. You can learn how to install an exterior door in no time.

Select the tools you will need to install your door. Consider the door you will need. Look at the aesthetics of your home, and find materials that are durable and insulating.

Remove your old door, including the frame and hinges. Install your sill and hinges, then set your new door into place. Apply some finishing touches once the door is set.

Home improvement doesn’t happen overnight. Learn from the experts, and check out our website for more guides.

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