How to measure and install an exterior door and door frame

Written by edwin thomas
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How to measure and install an exterior door and door frame
Some old houses have non-standard door openings. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Most exterior door frames are made from softwoods that give decades of good service. However, exterior doors on an unshielded face or weather side of your house, especially a cellar door, are vulnerable to rot from repeated exposure to harsh weather and moisture. This article will show you how to replace rotted or damaged non-standard door frames that are not suited for a prefabricated door frame kit.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 5 cm x 15 cm (2 x 6 inch) soft or hardwood section (for door sill)
  • Lumber planks
  • Hand saw
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Caulk and caulking gun
  • Mortar or mortar repairing compound
  • Crowbar
  • Drill
  • Six 10 cm (4 inch) screws
  • Mastic sealant

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    Door frame posts

  1. 1

    Chisel or scrape away plaster to expose the wall around the door frame. Use a hand saw to cut away the metal brackets that hold the frame posts in place.

  2. 2

    Use a crowbar to pry the frame posts from the wall. It may be necessary to saw the posts through the middle to allow for easier removal.

  3. 3

    Clean the loose material from the opening, and repair the vapour barrier in the wall cavity with caulking to keep moisture out of the gap. Prime your frame posts, paying particular attention to the underside. (It will not be painted.)

  4. 4

    Fit the new door frame. Wedge the new frame into position, checking that it is centred. Drill three holes in each jamb. One will be about 30 cm (1 foot) from the top. Another about 30 cm (1 foot) from the bottom. And the last one in the middle. Run a drill with a masonry bit or mark clearance holes.

  5. 5

    Remove the frame and drill holes in the brickwork. Do not drill holes into the mortar. If your marks are on the mortar, drill new ones to meet the brick. Seal up the old holes with wood putty.

  6. 6

    Put the frame back in place, and lock it in using 10 cm (4 inch) screws. Plug the screw holes with putty for an even finish. Restore the plaster or stucco, and apply mastic sealant to seal any small gaps.

    Door sill

  1. 1

    Measure and note the width of the door opening. Once the measurement is taken, remove the door. Saw the centre of the old sill for easier removal. The sill will be set into an indentation in the bricks with mortar, if the door frame is set within a brick wall. Use a chisel to chip away enough mortar to loosen the sill. Take pains to preserve the brick. Pull out the loosened sill.

  2. 2

    Use a 5 cm x 15 cm (2 x 6 inch) softwood or hardwood plank to fit the space for your sill. This should be an appropriate size when cutting with a hand saw. If your measurements are not within standard parameters, acquire the necessary plank and cut into the appropriate shape.

  3. 3

    Insert the new seal from the front. Place the sill under the door jamb sides and within the indentation of the brickwork. Cut mortises (slots) into the top of the new sill to fit the tenon (fitted bottom) of the frame's jambs. It may turn out that your new sill is slightly higher than your old sill. If this occurs, you will need to trim the jambs.

  4. 4

    Try the fit for the new sill, and check to see if it is level. Remove and coat with a primer to seal the sill, especially the underside as it will not be painted. Apply masonry sealant to the brickwork to provide a moisture barrier. Fit the new sill into place, locking it with fresh mortar. You can also use a mortar repair compound for the brick joints. Use carpenter's glue for the mortises and tenons. Finish by applying caulk around the new sill.

  5. 5

    Paint the new door frame and sill.

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