How to Hang a Door in a Frame

Written by will capra
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Hanging--or installing--a new door takes precision for a proper fit and smooth operation. Pre-hung doors, with jambs and hinges already in place and perfectly aligned, make it much easier to hang a door in a frame effectively. With some basic tools and patient attention to detail, you can install a pre-hung door in an existing frame without investing a lot of time, and with little risk of frustration or error.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pre-hung door
  • Hammer
  • 4d and 8d finish nails
  • Pry bar
  • Hand saw or crosscut saw
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Wood shims

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  1. 1

    Check your frame. Whether your door will go into a new frame cut into a wall or the space left by a door you removed, double-check the measurements and angles. The frame should be 1 to 2 inches taller than your pre-hung door and 2 inches wider, and all corners should be square (exactly 90 degrees). If the measurements or angles are off, you can try pounding boards into place with a hammer or inserting wood shims, or you may need to re-frame the doorway before proceeding.

  2. 2

    Place the door. Set the pre-hung door into the center of the frame. On the side with the hinges, use a level to make sure the door is perfectly vertical. You can use a pry bar and insert wood shims between the doorjamb and framing as needed to get a level fit. Use a tape measure to double-check that the space between the jamb and frame is equal at the top, bottom and middle.

  3. 3

    Nail the hinge side. If they are not already in place, put a wood shim between the jamb and frame near the top hinge, and then nail through the jamb and shim and into the frame. Repeat this process for remaining hinges, and place additional nails as desired for stability. Always place a shim before nailing to prevent future warping or bowing of the jamb.

  4. 4

    Nail the latch side and top. After double-checking that your door is still level and square, place shims between the jamb and frame on the latch side of the door, check for equal space between the jamb and frame along the whole span and then nail through the jamb and shims and into the frame.

  5. 5

    Install trim. Cut any shims that are sticking out to make them even with the edge of the doorframe. Place your trim boards (casing) around the door to cover the gap and shims between the jambs and framing. Be sure the same amount of jamb is visible beyond the edge of the trim from top to bottom, and that the side and top trim pieces meet at the proper angles. Then use 4d finish nails to attach the trim.

  6. 6

    Install doorknob and latch in the the precut holes in the door and jamb, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose the right door for your needs: hollow-core doors are less expensive and lighter (and thus a bit easier to hang), but solid-core and solid wood doors will block more sound and may be more durable and attractive. If you choose a split-jamb pre-hung door, the installation process will be somewhat different. After placing, shimming and nailing the door and attached casing, you will slide a second jamb-and-casing unit into place from the other side of the door frame.

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