How to Install a Door - Opening, Installation, Hardware and Finishing

How to Install a Door: From Start to Finish

Hispanic carpenter installing hinges on new door before installation
Mark Hunt / Getty Images

The installation procedure will depend on the type of door,  but most of the guidelines offered in this article are applicable. Installing a door is a relatively easy process if all the tools are available and this installation procedure is applicable to wood, fiberglass or aluminum doors. Here are some great tips that will help you on how to install a door.

How to Install a Door: Prep the Rough Opening  

The process of installing a door starts by measuring the rough opening. The new door should be 2 inches less in width than the opening and 2-1/2 inches shorter in height. That additional space will allow you to install the door frame.

  • Before starting with the door installation, check that the rough opening is plumb and that the subsill is leveled. The subsill is no other than the floor under the door sill will be resting.
  • If the subsill needs leveling, use a beveled board or wooden shims to level it.
  • A spacer board must be placed to clear the required thickness from the floor surface.
  • Apply caulk along the subsill and extend the caulk layer one inch in front and one inch back where the sill will be placed. The caulk must be extended at least two inches up the sides of the rough framing.
  • Remove the door assembly from its packaging. Some doors are secured to protect them from shipping using screws installed through the jambs into the doors.
  • Some doors have shipping braces that must only be removed once the door has been shimmed into position. 

How to Install the Door

  • Install at least 6 door brackets to the door jamb.
  • Lift the door into the opening and put some shims under the door to prevent it from rest on top of the finished floor.
  • Start with the bottom of the door, and push it into place, placing the bottom first with the top facing towards you. Tilt the door into place.
  • Tack a nail through the hinge locations, starting with the upper one and level the jamb. Once leveled, tack nails at all hinge locations.
  • Nail the door in place with 16 finishing nails, through the hinge jamb near the hinge location.
  • Important do not drive the nails all the way in.

Leveling and Plumbing a Door

  • To install a door, the frame must be secured in place by using shims.
  • Place wooden shim on the hinge side of the door; behind hinge attachment point in the door frame.
  • The door will be permanently attached to the rough opening at these points later.
  • Adjust the shims and frame until the jamb on one side of the door is plumb in both directions.
  • Check that a constant gap of approximately 18” has been created between the jamb and the edge of the door been installed.
  • If you want to install a door that was shipped with braces, remove them now. Open and close the door to assure proper swinging.
  • Check that an even contact has been created between the door face and the weather stripping attached to the frame.
  • Install a solid shim behind the lock strike location.
  • Permanently secure the jambs by using 3" screws driven through the shims at the hinge locations on the hinge jamb. Continue around the door, securing the remaining jambs with screws or nails driven through shims.
  • Screws or nails must be installed through the shims to prevent distorting the frame.
  • Install screws through the shim at the lock strike location.

Do You Need to Insulate After a Door Has Been Installed?

Now that you know the basics of how to install a door, some professionals will ask whether they need to insulate the door or not. I will recommend doing so, and here is how to do it.

  • Insulate around the door frame using fiberglass insulation or low expansion foam.
  • Install the interior trim. Caulk all joints of the trim and brick mold, where the brick mold meets the exterior wall.
  • Install the weather-strip at the base of the door as instructed by the door manufacturer.