How to Install a Door Like a Pro

Here’s a step-by-step guide to door installation, covering all the main elements.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to door installation, covering all the main elements.

Hanging a door seems like it should be one of the more straightforward DIY projects you can do, and to an extent this is true. However, if it’s your first time attempting anything like this, you’ll need a combination of attention to detail, patience, and the right tools to make the process a success.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to door installation, covering all the main elements, so you have an idea of how to get started on your own door replacement mission.

Get together the right tools

Before you begin, you’ll need a few tools to help you out along the way, so if you don’t have all of the following already, a few additional purchases will be necessary.

First up, a tape measure and a pencil will come in handy for measuring and marking. A wood plane and a hand saw will assist in adjusting the door to fit the frame, while a chisel and hammer are also essential. When it comes to how to align a door, a shim steel or a plastic equivalent is needed. Wooden wedges can also serve this purpose as well.

Affixing the door involves a combination of hinges and screws, as well as a power drill to make the necessary holes. A workbench is also a good investment, as it will let you rest the door in a stable position while working on it.

Start with measurements

Take thorough measurements of the door frame as well as the door you are replacing as a priority. If you are happy with the shape and size of the old door, it can even be used as a guide to provide cutting points on its replacement, so bear this in mind.

With the door dimensions to hand, you can search for a new door that fits your tastes. It will need to be wooden to allow for re-sizing, and it will also have to be unpainted so tweaks can be made easily.

When you’ve received your chosen door, you can quickly test it to see how well it fits into the frame. Use wedges or shims to hold it in place, and check that the gaps around the edges are even. 

Identify places where any irregularities of the frame might cause the door to rub, and mark these out, again taking care to measure precisely for the best results.

A wood plane will be suitable for removing smaller amounts of material.
A wood plane will be suitable for removing smaller amounts of material.

Make the necessary alterations

Once you know where your door requires trimming based on the frame fit and dimensions, you can do this using your workbench and the tools mentioned above. 

A wood plane will be suitable for removing smaller amounts of material, but if more than half an inch needs to come off, a hand saw will get you there faster, and you can improve the finish with the plane afterwards.

Remember to remove material evenly from each side of the door, rather than from just the top or the bottom, or only from the left or right. If you don’t, it may appear uneven when hung, with any other features unnaturally looking offset.

Once your first alterations have been made, test-fit it in the frame again, to see if any other changes are necessary. If so, repeat the previous steps of measuring and altering. If not, move on!

If you feel you need to take online carpentry courses, do not hesitate. These online courses provide flexibility, enabling you to conveniently be more adept and knowledgeable in woodwork.

Fitting the hinges involves using a chisel and hammer
Fitting the hinges involves using a chisel and hammer.

Measure & fit the hinges

When you are happy with how the door fits, you can mark where the hinges need to be. Allow a gap equivalent to the thickness of a penny between the door and the frame to account for the hinge in this scenario.

If the frame already had hinges installed in the past, these could be a guide for your replacement, which will make things easier.

Fitting the hinges involves using a chisel and hammer to cut enough of the wood material out of the door to suit the size and shape of the hinge products you have chosen.

Chiselling is a skill that takes a little while to master, so if you have some scrap wood to hand, hold this steady in your workbench and perform a few practice cuts before you go all-in on the actual door.

After cutting is complete, use the drill to create holes for the screws to follow, then affix the hinge to the door, turning the screws until tight.

Hang the door

The final step of the door installation process is to actually hang it in place. You’ll need to do this while the door is open, and keeping it at around 90 degrees to the frame will allow you to access the hinges without overextending it and threatening the stability.

Use wedges or shims to hold the door in place, and get someone else to help you at this stage if you are unsure about whether the door will be stable enough while you are drilling guide holes into the frame.

With the holes drilled, add a couple of screws, one to each hinge, as this should be enough to temporarily take the weight of the door. 

You can then remove the wedges and check that it is closing and opening as they should and that it sits in the frame as intended. You can then reposition it open and complete your installation with the final few screws.

Add the final touches

At this point, the door should be fully installed and ready to go, but if you detect any rubbing or unevenness, it is worth unscrewing the hinges from the frame and planning off the parts that are causing this conundrum.

If you wish to paint the door, now is also the time to do it, although be sure to mask off the hinges so that the paint doesn’t get into them and gunk it up. Removing the door for painting is also potentially easier, although you’ll need to give one side time to dry before flipping it.


So there you have it; installing a door like a pro is not necessarily a walk in the park, but it also doesn’t have to be the daunting DIY duty that you might think!



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