How to Install or Replace an Exterior Door
It’s time for another Pro-Follow update! If you’ve been following along, you know that Joe Bianco is in the process of remodeling Fred and Kim’s basement. Last time we left off, Joe brought in Dave and his mold sniffing dog, Sam, to detect any mold in the basement. It was a fascinating process, and I hope to bring you more with Dave and Sam in the near future.
Since then, drywall has been hung in the basement, doors installed and most of the painting has been completed. I’m not focusing on these aspects of the remodel since I’ve covered them in the past. If you’re interested, you can read more about how to install drywall, installing pre-hung interior doors, and painting like a pro at those links.
One question readers often have is how to install an exterior door so I was excited to learn that that would be part of this remodel. The old door in the basement was original to the house, and Joe installed a new, slightly larger door in its place.
The New Door
The new door is a simple, six-panel, steel door. It’s pre-hung which makes it easier to install because things like weatherstripping and hinges are already in place. It’s a standard size, measuring 80″ x 32″.
Step 1: Remove Old Door
The guys got started by taking the old door off its hinges and removing the door casing and brick molding.
Here’s a few pictures showing the different “layers” of the old door. You can see the block wall, pressure treated framing, blocking, door jamb, insulation, brick molding and threshold.
Joe’s crew cut the door jambs to make them easier to remove.
The guys preserved most of the rough framing to reuse it with the new door.
Step 2: Remove Old Caulk, Insulation, Adhesive
It’s important to clear away old caulk and adhesive so that you have a clean surface for new framing.
The beautiful artwork was an unexpected treasure underneath the old framing; you never know what you’re going to find.
Step 3: Rough Frame Opening
Joe’s crew glued and nailed 2 x 4″ and 1 x 4″ boards in place. They used a Ramset powder actuated nailer which makes this an easy task. Otherwise, they would have had to mark and drill holes, add anchors and then screw the boards in place.
Pro-Tip: Rough framing should measure 2″ longer than the door in each dimension. That means this opening measures 82″ x 34″, and the extra space is to ensure room to plumb and level the door.
Step 4: Dry Fit Door
After the framing was completed, the guys removed all the braces from the door and set it in place to test for fit.
Step 5: Plane Molding (Not Typical)
Most exterior doors are installed with the brick molding against the face of the block wall. However, this door was installed with the brick molding flush with the block wall. This was because the next bigger, standard-sized door would not fit, and that’s how the old door was installed.
In a few places the brick molding needed to be planed to fit. Joe’s crew accomplished that by setting the nails a little deeper and using a power planer.
Step 6: Glue Threshold
After the guys were satisfied with the fit of the door, they put down a heavy, double-bead of adhesive under the threshold and in the corners. This is important because it will seal out water.
Step 7: Check for Level, Plumb
Next, Joe and his crew checked the door for level on each dimension.
Step 8: Shim as Necessary
The guys inserted shims between the door jamb and rough framing as necessary to ensure a perfectly level door and that the door would open and close smoothly. Altogether, they shimmed behind each hinge, the latch strike plate and at the top of the door.
Step 9: Secure Door
When the guys were satisfied with the shims, they inserted screws behind the weatherstripping to anchor the door to the rough framing.
Step 10: Trim Shims
Next, they cut the shims by scoring them with a utility knife and breaking them along the score line.
Step 11: Insulate
Joe’s crew used a can of Great Stuff on the outside and inside of the door, filling the gap between the door and the framing. The foam not only insulates around the door, but also forms a water-resistant seal.
Pro-Tip: Use a minimal-expanding, low-pressure foam formulated not to bow window and door frames.
Step 12: Finish with Molding
All that’s left is to add some molding and caulk all the joints. Unfortunately, the guys haven’t completed this step yet. When they do, I’ll update the article with finished pictures.
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