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Installing an Interior Door

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The privacy your doors afford your bedroom, office, and, most of all, bathroom seems like something you couldn't live without. To ensure your doors swing and latch effortlessly, you'll want to install them the right way.

Ordering a Pre-Hung Door and Preparing the Opening

Pre-hung doors come already attached to hinges in a factory-made doorframe. The sill and jambs are braced so that the assembly will remain square until it's installed. If the doorframe isn't square, the door won't be able to swing and latch properly.

When you order a pre-hung door, make sure you specify the thickness of the wall as well as the dimensions of the rough opening into which it will go. It's best to drywall or plaster ahead of time, so that you can get accurate dimensions.

If this is a new construction project, you don't have to do anything to prepare the opening, but, if there's a pre-existing frame or trim, now's the time to remove it. If you want to reuse the same trim, be extra careful when taking it off the wall.

Positioning the Door

  • Place the door in the opening. If you measured correctly when you ordered it, it should fit flush with the wall. There will be a little room (no more than 1/8 inch) between the doorframe and the wall.

  • Use shims to make the door fit securely into place, carefully adjusting them to make sure the door is centered.

  • Level the doorframe by laying a level in the bottom of the frame, placing shims under one side of the frame, and adjusting them until the door is level.

  • Make sure the doorframe is flush with the floor. Use shims to raise it to the appropriate height.

Securing the Doorframe

  • Once the doorframe is in place, plumb, and level, you can nail it into place using 10d finishing nails.

  • Start on the bottom of the hinge side, and nail through the doorjamb and each shim about half way. If you sink the nails all the way through, you're likely to dent the frame.

  • Finish sinking each nail with a nail set, which sinks nails without damaging the surface they're going into.

  • After each nail, recheck the frame to ensure that it's plumb and level, and adjust the shims as necessary.

  • If the doorframe isn't satisfactorily level and plumb after you've sunk all the nails, you may need to remove the nails from the problem area and try again. Make sure the door swings open and closed properly.

  • When you're satisfied, you can use a handsaw to trim away the excess wood from the shims so that they're flush with the frame.

  • Install the lockset and install the trim around the door.
If the rest of the walls and doors in the room are finished, you'll be ready to prime and paint!

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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