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How to Install a Front Door

Tuesday October 23rd, 2018
DIY front door installation made easy

A front door can go a long way towards boosting your home's curb appeal. Whether you are decorating, renovating, or designing your house, installing a new front exterior door is a project that can be completed in one weekend. 

How to Install a Front Door

  1. Measure Your Existing Entry Door
  2. Remove Your Storm Door (If Needed)
  3. Remove Your Doorbell
  4. Remove Your Existing Door Frame and Hardware
  5. Make Sure Your New Door Is Level and Plumb
  6. Install a Sill Pan
  7. Set the New Door
  8. Install the Hardware and Door Frame
  9. Reinstall Your Doorbell
  10. Add Your Final Touches
For homeowners, figuring out how to install a front door is simple and straightforward. You can cut the installation cost of having a contractor do the work for you. There are only a few tips and tricks that you need to know for a smooth entry door installation process. Your new entry door will be ready for use by the end of the weekend.

1. Measure Your Existing Entry Door

Before you begin the door installation process, your first step is to break out the measuring tape and write down the dimensions of your old entry door. Write down the measurements for the width and height of the door frame, as well as the jamb depth. You should aim to have your new door measure 1/2-inch less than the height of the door opening and about 3/4-inch less in width.

2. Remove Your Storm Door (If Needed)

Before you remove your old exterior entry door and install your new door, you’ll need to start by removing your storm door. If you currently have a storm door, your storm door will typically be held in place by screws. It will have a spring at the top and additional hardware that will need to be removed. Remove your hardware first, before removing the screws or hinges on the storm door.

3. Remove Your Doorbell 

Doorbells are low-voltage electronics, so you can simply unscrew your existing apparatus. Low-voltage electronics do not require an electrician for removal.

4. Remove Your Existing Door Frame and Hardware

Carefully remove your door frame and all hardware, including the door lock, door knobs, handles, and hinges.

Score the Exterior Trim

Start by scoring along the exterior door trim with a utility knife to more easily pry it off. Your new door will most likely have the exterior trim already attached, so there is no need to worry about saving the old exterior door trim.

Remove the Hinge Pins and Lift Out Your Current Entry Door

If you have a latch, close your current entry door and latch it shut. Then, remove the hinge pins. You can use a hammer and nail to gently loosen the hinge pins. You will only need to tap the hammer and nail against the bottom of each hinge pin. Do so until it pops up approximately one inch from the hinge. You can then pull out the pin from the hinge by hand.

Gently lift the current entry door away from the hinges by giving the knob a slight pull and grasping just beneath one of the hinges with your other hand. After your current entry door is off its hinges, unscrew the strike plate from the frame.

Cut the Screws or Nails

You will likely have some screws exposed. Use a reciprocating saw between the entry door frame and house frame to saw through the screws or nails, making them flush.

Remove the Jamb

When removing the front entry jamb, try pushing from the top and to loosen it. If it sticks, it’s likely from the old sealant at the bottom, so you may have to wiggle it free or use a little more force to remove it.

Now that you’ve removed your current entry door, it’s time to install your brand new door.

5. Make Sure Your New Door Is Level and Plumb

When installing your new front entry door — and any interior door or exterior door for that matter, make sure that the subfloor is level and the rough door opening is as square and plumb as it can be. If it’s slightly out of square, that’s okay. You are always able to use some shims to correct the fit. Simply attach any needed shims to the existing door frame with thin, lightweight screws, then check once more that it is level and plumb.

6. Install a Sill Pan

Your front exterior door is a primary entryway, but the last thing you want entering your house is water. That’s why installing a sill pan or flashing tape to the sill can help prevent future water damage. A sill pan tilts away from the exterior of your house and allows water to drain away from the house. Make sure your sill pan is properly sealed to provide a waterproof barrier against water. 

7. Set the New Door

When setting the new door into the rough opening, apply a bead of caulk to the back along the top and two sides for the brickmould on the new door. Set the bottom of the new door in the opening before tilting the top into place.

8. Install the Hardware and Door Frame

Now it’s time to install the door hardware and door frame.

Add Shims to Square Your New Door

Once the new door is in place, verify that it’s plumb and square. Use shims if necessary. Place them around the door frame above the three hinges and on the latch side at the top, middle, and bottom. Make sure your new door is distortion-free and straight before proceeding to the next step.

Check the Door Frame

Examine your new door from inside your home to ensure the door frame is centered and still plumb. Then, drill pilot holes through the hinges and drive your screws in. Only drill these holes halfway. You may need to place shims above each screw location on the hinge side. Head back outside and finish drilling in the screws. Your hinge side should now be secure.

Check Your Weather Stripping Alignment

From the outside, check to see where the weather stripping connects with your new door. Look for equal contact at the top, middle, and bottom of your new door. If it’s not equal, you may have to adjust the latch side of the new door by drilling pilot holes in the frame at the top and bottom. Drive your screws in halfway—just enough to secure your new door in place without it being so tight that it can’t be adjusted.

Add More Shims

Now that you’ve partially driven in your screws, shim above them on the latch side, again verifying that the door frame is plumb. If it looks level, drill in the top and bottom screws fully, leaving the middle screw still only halfway driven through. Go ahead and close the new door and shim above the middle screw and the strike plate. You can now drive in the last screws and attach the strike plate.

Test the Sill Cap

Now that your new door is snug in the new door frame, test out the sill to ensure that it’s sealed. It needs to be sealed, but not too tight. You can make sure it’s the right fit by placing a piece of paper under the new door and over the sill. Close the door, and if the paper pulls out with a little resistance and doesn’t tear, you’re in good shape. If the paper tears, you’ll need to adjust the sill cap screws to lower. If it slides out with zero resistance, you’ll need to raise the cap.

Install Your New Door’s Lock System

Next, install your new door’s deadbolt and lock set by following the manufacturer’s guide for your hardware of choice. Make sure to check the new door lock set to ensure that they’re fully functional and make any necessary adjustments.

Score the Shims

Make sure to score the shims sticking out of your new door. Use a utility knife or cut them off with an oscillating saw to make them flush and unnoticeable.


Your energy bill and your overall climate comfort control will thank you for this next step as you install insulation around the frame using blanket insulation or spray foam. Properly installing insulation around your exterior entry door is key to an energy efficient house, as this is a major area where air leakage can occur.

9. Reinstall Your Doorbell

Now you can reinstall your existing doorbell. At this point, you may also want to opt for a new one that better matches the aesthetic qualities of your new door. 

10. Add Your Final Touches

Congratulations on a job well done. Complete the front door installation by adding your final touches.

Install Your Interior Trim

Install the interior trim to your newly installed entry door. Make sure to seal along the edges of the trim with beads of caulk for a long-lasting, polished look.

Paint Your New Door

After all the manual labor work is completed, the creativity begins. You want to make sure to finish your new door in a way that creates a welcoming entry door, plus matches your home’s exterior and interior design. Chances are, you probably already have a front door color or stain picked out for your door. But if you don’t, you should check out these popular front door paint colors, and be sure to also check out our tips on how to finish and seal a front door.

How to Install a Front Door

For homeowners who want to install an entry door or exterior door, the process is straightforward and helps improve the curb appeal of your home. The first part of your door installation project will be removing the existing door, framing, and hardware. Then, you will prep your door frame for your new door. Install the new door and door frame, then add your final touches. What color will you paint or stain your new entry door?

You’ll need a handful of tools, which will depend on the type of new door that you purchase and how it comes, but you likely have most (if not all) of the tools needed for installation around the house. Manufacturers always give detailed instructions, which will be really helpful in the installation process. You won’t want to leave out the little details like caulk, insulation, and weather stripping to make sure your house and new door are sealed properly and energy efficient.

Replacing a door, like your current front door or patio door, can be a fun weekend project that you will feel good about completing without hiring a contractor. Whether you are browsing through prehung doors for a simpler installation or want to install an entry door by itself, DIY door installation is a fun undertaking that you can successfully accomplish by yourself.

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