How to Install New Doors in an Existing Home

Installing new doors can add a ton of charm to your home, but how do you get started? Find out how to install new doors in an existing home here.

Worn-out and warped doors don’t add as much character to your house as you may think. When your interior doors start looking and feeling old, it’s time for a replacement. 

For DIY veterans and newbies alike, replacing your interior doors is a simple and straightforward project that makes your home more functional and aesthetic. 

If you want to install new doors to upgrade and transform your home, you need a game plan. Read on for the ultimate guide on installing interior doors the right way. 

Remove the Old Door

If the doorframe is damaged, you can replace the door and frame with a prehung door. If the frame is still in good condition, you can save money and time by installing a blank door or slab

Choosing prehung vs. slab doors is a matter of preference and necessity. For prehung doors, it’s important to use a door that swings the correct way. This involves the hinge and doorknob placement. For doorknobs on the left, use a left-handed door. 

Some blank doors have a swing direction, allowing them to swing freely. This is marked by a beveled edge on the side of the door with the lockset. 

Step #1: Make Reference Marks

Even if it’s hanging on its hinges, your old door is usually the perfect template for your new one. Before taking the old door off its hinges, close it to make several marks 10 inches up from the ground. 

These reference marks help you to cut the new door correctly. 

Step #2: Remove Hardware 

Remove the old hardware from the old door and the frame. Start by removing the lockset and hinge pins. Once those are out, you’ll be able to take the door down. 

Next, remove the hinge plates from the door. Use these as a guide when purchasing new hardware – you want to get hinges that are the exact size as the old ones!

Prepare New Door 

Now that the old door is down, it’s time to prep the new door for installation. Work on a set of saw horses so that it’s easy to cut the new door to size. 

Start this process by clamping the old door onto your new door, making sure the tops and hinge sides are flush. Take your time when marking out hardware positions and trimming lines – sacrificing speed is worth the surety of accurate markings. 

Step #3: Make Your Marks 

The first thing you need to mark is any excess wood on the new door. Next, use a combination square to mark where the hinge mortises sit. Next, transfer the mortise distance from the door edge and the depths mortise depth on the door’s surface. 

Mark the location of the lockset onto the door face. Some locksets include installation measurements to help with correct placement. 

Finally, transfer the reference marks from step 1. Then mark 9-7/8 inches down from those marks and draw a straight line that connects them. These are your clearance marks, and make sure your door doesn’t drag on the floor when you open and close it. 

You can now set your old door aside – you’re done with it!

Step #4: Cut Excess 

Follow the excess lines and the 1/8 inch clearance line to trim your new door to fit your frame perfectly. Use a saw or planer to make the job easy. 

If your blank door has a beveled edge on the strike side, make sure to not cut that side! 

Attach New Hardware 

A door hinge will either be square or rounded. For rounded hinges, you can use a hinge template and a router to cut the hinge mortises. 

For square hinges, you can use a chisel to cut the hinge mortises by following the next two steps.  

Step #5: Prepare For Hinges 

Use a knife to score the hinge mortise lines you made earlier. Use a hammer and chisel to outline the edge of every mortise, making relief cuts across the area for easy removal. Use the mortise depth marking as a guide for these cuts, being careful to not go deeper.  

Now use the chisel to remove the wood in between your score lines and relief cuts. Position the chisel so the beveled side is closest to the door. This helps you remove small amounts of material at a time, giving you more control over the process. 

Step #6: Install Hinges

Now that you’ve made space in the wood for the mortise, hold the mortise in position and drill pilot holes. Use screws to firmly attach the hinges. 

Install the hinge plates on your door frame. If your new hinge plate’s holes are positioned differently from your previous door, drill pilot holes before securing the hinge plate with screws. 

Step #7: Install Lockset 

Follow your lockset’s installation instructions to position and drill the required holes. 

When cutting the lockset hole, cut halfway through the first side of the door, then flip it over to finish the holes from the opposite side. This technique prevents splintering.

Step #8: Install Strike Plate and Latch

Use a 1-inch hole saw to drill an edge borehole for the latch. 

If you aren’t using the old strike plate, use screws to firmly secure your new one. 

Step #9: Paint the Door 

If your blank door is unfinished, now is the best time to paint it. Make sure to paint even coats and let each coat dry completely before starting on the next. 

Install the New Door

The time has come! Use wood shims to elevate your door and set it in the hinges. Use a hammer to insert the hinge pins so that they’re flush with the hinges. If you struggle to tap your hinge pins into place, slightly loosen the nearby screws. When the hinge pin is in place, tighten them again.  

Test that your door has the right clearance. Most doors require a 1/8-inch clearance at the header and strike sides and a 1/16-inch clearance at the hinge side. 

Install the lockset according to the package directions. 

Congratulations, you now have a fully functioning new door!

If you’ve reached this point and still don’t feel confident in your door-replacing abilities, SC Windows Doors offers replacement door installation to the Spartanburg and Greenville neighborhoods. 

Install New Doors to Transform Your Home

Now that you know how to replace your own interior doors, the sky is your limit when transforming your home! By using simple tools and precise measurements, you can remove old doors and install new doors to your heart’s content. 

Did you find this post helpful? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more handy DIY tips and tricks to make your house aesthetic and functional.

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