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Setting A Front Entry Door

A well-installed door provides security, energy efficiency, and an inviting entrance to your home. Improper installation can lead to drafts, difficulty opening or closing, and potential water damage. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the essential steps of setting a front entry door to ensure it operates smoothly and fits perfectly in your new home.

The Short Answer: How to Set a Front Door

Setting a front entry door involves measuring and preparing the opening, positioning the door properly, and securing it with shims and screws to ensure it is level and plumb. We recommend putting a small piece of plywood beneath the door when setting it to ensure it doesn’t scrape your indoor rug.

Preparation

Tools:

  • Level: Ensures the door is installed plumb and level.
  • Drill and Bits: For drilling pilot holes and driving screws.
  • Hammer: For securing nails and shims.
  • Shims: Used to adjust and secure the door frame.
  • Utility Knife: For trimming shims and caulk.
  • Caulk Gun: This is used to apply sealant around the door frame.
  • Safety Gear: Gloves and goggles to protect yourself during installation​​.

Materials:

  • Prehung Door Unit: Includes the door already mounted to a frame.
  • Screws and Nails: For securing the door frame and trim.
  • High-Quality Caulk: To seal gaps and prevent drafts and water intrusion.
  • Drip Edge or Z-Flashing: Provides a moisture barrier above the door.
  • Insulation: To fill gaps around the door frame​​.

Measuring the Door Opening

  1. Height: Measure from the floor to the top of the door jamb.
  2. Width: Measure across the doorway at the top, middle, and bottom points. Use the smallest measurement to ensure the door fits.
  3. Door Jamb Depth: Measure from the front edge of the door frame to the back edge​​.

These measurements will help you select a door that fits your opening and prevent the need for excessive adjustments during installation.

Removing the Old Door

If there is an old door, you’ll need to learn how to properly remove it before hanging the new one.

  1. Unscrewing Hinges: Start by removing the hinge screws from the door jamb.
  2. Prying Off Trim: Use a pry bar to remove the interior and exterior trim around the door frame.
  3. Removing the Frame: Take out the screws or nails holding the old door frame in place. Cut through any caulk or paint, sealing the frame to the wall​​.

Ensure you carefully handle the old door and frame to avoid damaging the surrounding structure, making installing the new door easier and cleaner.

Installing the New Door

Preparing the Door Opening

  1. Checking the Sill Area: Make sure the sill area is level. If the subfloor is in good condition but not level, shim under the plywood to correct any unevenness. Adding a strip of plywood can also raise the door to prevent it from scraping against interior rugs and mats.
  2. Installing a Sill Pan (if needed): For doors exposed to the weather, install a sill pan to protect against water damage. This adds an extra layer of protection to the subfloor and prolongs the lifespan of your door installation​.

Caulking and Flashing

  1. Applying Sealant: Run a bead of high-quality caulk along the exposed framing where the new door’s exterior trim will meet the wall and across the floor where the door’s threshold will sit​.
  2. Installing Drip Edge or Z-Flashing: Place the drip edge above the door opening, ensuring it extends beyond the door frame to direct water away. This step is crucial for preventing water damage and maintaining the structural integrity of the door frame​.

Positioning the Door

  1. Positioning and Centering the Door: Tilt the new door unit into the opening, starting with the top. Ensure the door is centered in the opening and check it is plumb using a level. This step might require adjusting the door slightly to fit snugly within the rough opening​. Door frames with archways at the top, like the one we use on the Braxton, can make it tricky to center it just right.
  2. Temporary Securing: Use shims to hold the door in place temporarily. This helps in making minor adjustments before fully securing the door. Leave the retaining brackets on the door until the final adjustments are made​.

Securing the Front-Entry Door

Shimming and Leveling

  1. Placing Shims:
    • Start placing shims behind the hinges to create an even gap around the door. Insert pairs of shims between the door jamb and the framing at the hinge locations, adjusting them to ensure the door is plumb. Use a level to check your work and make sure the door is vertical​​.
  2. Checking for Plumb and Square:
    • Verify that the door frame is square by measuring from corner to corner diagonally. The measurements should be equal. Adjust the shims as needed to ensure the door is square and plumb.
  3. Temporary Fastening:
    • Temporarily fasten the door frame by driving screws through the hinge-side jamb. This will hold the door in place while you make final adjustments. Check the alignment and adjust the shims before permanently securing the door.

Securing the Door Frame

  1. Securing with Screws:
    • Drill pilot holes through the door jamb at each shim location and drive 3-inch screws through the jamb and into the framing. This will secure the door in place. On the hinge side, remove one short screw from each hinge and replace it with a long screw for added stability​​.
  2. Final Adjustments:
    • Check that the door swings smoothly without rubbing against the frame. Make any necessary adjustments by tightening or loosening the screws and shims. Ensure that the weatherstripping is compressed evenly around the door to provide a good seal against drafts and moisture.
  3. Securing the Lock Side:
    • With the door closed, inspect the gap between the door and the frame on the lock side. Use shims to adjust the alignment and ensure an even gap. Secure the lock side of the door frame with screws, checking again that the door operates smoothly​.