An Exterior Door Install


This tale starts with a decision over 4th of July weekend 2005 to start a serious effort to do some repairs around my new house. I was working on fixing a brick foundation and all was going according to plan. While I was at the hardware store I decided to pickup a new set of door locks. As I believe in the standard practice of replacing the door locks when you buy a new house. Later in the week, there was time to do a project, but not enough to lay bricks. This seemed like the perfect time to look into installing the new door locks. The first door choice was the primary egress to the house the 1st floor back door. After removing the old (non-functional) dead bolt, it became quite evident that the strike plates in this door were mounted into the molding. when I tried to drill a hole the molding splintered and fell apart. At this Point I decided My best course of action would be to...

Rehang the Old Door

The plan was simple. I would rehang the old door. I purchased wood to build a new door frame. Then began the first step, demolition. I carefully removed the old door. Then I started to rip out the door frame. The molding was shot so it came out. This revealed that there was no plaster behind the molding. The molding also was to close to the nearby window molding so the window molding had been cut down. I decide to set aside a piece of the hinge side door molding to replace the cutup piece of window molding and replace all the molding around the door with a thinner yet similar molding. The wood of the door frame was removed. Around the door the siding was stripped to the sheathing. It was a beautiful rough opening.

So I went about building the new door frame everything was nice and square. The new hinges were nicely recessed. Everything was perfect except the old door wasn't really square anymore. the corners had all become rounded with age and it had obviously been rehung several times before. After much cajoling I managed to get the door hung. It just would close correctly. I was also less than impressed with the frame I built all the parts that held it together ended up outside the house. So I decided to go back to the drawing board search the net for ideas and just live with the door for the next week or so. This is when I learned: Always use prehung Doors. Now as I saw it I had two options I could buy material more suited for exterior door frames and prehang the door myself then install it after everything was nice and square. Or I could just buy a new prehung steel door. The old door was 84 inches which was nice as I'm the shortest one in the house at 6-2. and I'd have to shrink the rough opening in order to fit a 80 inch standard door. When I went to the hardware store and the largest piece of exterior door jab lumber was only 80 inches I decided to cut my losses and ...

Install a Factory Assembled Prehung Steel Door

I went down to the hardware store and chose a nice door. Similar in style to the old door and a close in dimensions to my rough opening as possible. My studies on the web said a mildly proficient carpenter should be able to install a prehung door in less than two hours. I was confident that the time I set aside on Sunday afternoon would be sufficient and that I'd be done in time to clean up my kitchen for dinner after 3 weeks of prolonged demolition mess.

Things started simple enough. The old door came right out. The first delay was in order to remove the threshold it was decided that we needed to remove the siding on a wall next to, but perpendicular to the door. As I already removed some and wanted to change the style of the porch, it wasn't to bad when we found out this wasn't needed. I added 2x4 headers to bring in the rough opening. I checked the rough opening for square. Everything looked good. My buddy slid in the door. So far so good. I shimmed the door as directed in the instructions. Everything was level and square. I went to open the door. perfect. I went to close the door. It wouldn't close right. I "convinced" the door to close. had my buddy take the door out. I figured I shimmed it improperly and tried again. Still no go. One more time. nothing. Now I began to get a little frustrated and looked for what where the small differences that might be affecting the door closing properly. I start measuring everything. Make sure the top is as wide as the bottom. Make sure the threshold resting on a level rough opening is still level. This is when I notice the threshold that came preattached to the door frame was 1/4 inch off on one side. Now I was starting to feel the weight of it all. The store was closed. I had work the next day.

I decided to pull the door down again and fix the threshold. As soon as we get the door outside it starts to rain. I pull out the two screws holding the threshold on line it up with the other side of the door and screwed them back in. Besides the rain amazingly easy. We now decide to try rehanging the door one more time. I go to shim it. I still can't quite get the right spacing around the door. Apparently the door had been held out of square for so long by the threshold that the frame had become slightly warped. Fine. I figured out what the appropriate shimming should be opened the door held the shims at the right depth and screwed in the frame until the screw pulled the frame out to the shim. This freed the door up for easy opening and closing. I tossed the doorknob and dead bolt on using the default strike plate holes and called it a weekend. I didn't have enough caulk to do all around the door. I figured I'd pick up more on Monday on the way home from work.

The next day I noticed that the door sat a little to far outside my house. This would make it very difficult to blend into the plaster, and would limit how far the door would open. At work I decided I'd rehang the door after cutting a thin margin out of the inch thick sheathing around the door. Then I would push the door as far into the house as it would go, mounting the door on the 2x4s. Now, my house is pretty old and the sheathing is as near as I can tell from the siding I have removed is 1 by 12 running at a 45 degree angle. Cutting an inch off around the door was more difficult than I thought. A small circular saw would have been ideal. I ended up going back and forth between a chisel and a reciprocating saw held at an angle such that it cut the sheathing but not the framing. I got that out. I had a brother slide the door in. and then I shimmed in a method similar to what I had done the day before. This install actually went pretty fast. I caulked around the door nice and tight and called it installed.


Later when I went back to install the strike plates that came with the new door knob and deadbolt, I found that the door manufacturer had installed a metal plate in my way. I wasn't anything a little brute force couldn't convince to get out of the way.

I'm now very happy with the door. I used some small pieces of drywall to fill in the missing plaster. When my brothers are done repainting the kitchen, I've got some nice molding to go up around the door. The window molding repair went off relatively well. someday I'll probably take pictures of the finished project for all to marvel at. But not today. I hope this cautionary tell has informed as well as entertained you. Good Luck.