Expert Tips: Replacing an Exterior Door
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple; installing an outside door necessitates precise measurements, intermediate to expert construction abilities, and a working knowledge of materials. “if you’re worried about managing and finishing the job within a day, I’d recommend calling a professional,” says Hunter MacFarlane, a Lowe’s project expert.
Whether you opt to tackle a DIY door replacement or hire a professional to do it for you, there are few things to keep in mind:
What Type of Door Is It?
It is feasible to replace merely the door slab, according to Natedra Banks, senior merchant of exterior doors at Home Depot, but hinge locations and lock bore positions vary by manufacturer, so a new door is unlikely to line properly. The size of the original door slab also varies depending on its age and manufacturer.
“Replacing just the door might not improve your entranceway as much as replacing the entire unit. Your existing door frame could have wood rot or may not seal as well as a modern door system,” Banks says. And if your slab door is more than 25 years old, you should use a pre-hung door to ensure a sealed frame. Banks sums it up: “Replacing the door only is like buying a new car and keeping your original tires.”
If you can only replace the door slab, make sure the dimensions are accurate. “Replacing the door is as simple as removing the hinge pin, reinstalling the jamb leaves on the door, installing the lock and deadbolt hardware, reengaging the hinges, and reinserting the hinge pins,” Banks adds, “I’m still a little overwhelmed by this!” Door height, door width, hinge locations, hinge type (pass-through or mortise), hinge size, lock and deadbolt positions from the top of the door, and backset of the lock and hinge locations are the measurements you’ll need.
The measuring and installation of a full door system, depending on the kind (single, double, doors with sidelights, doors with transoms, etc. ), is significantly more complicated. Although you won’t have to worry as much about door height and breadth, you’ll need to figure out the unit size and/or rough opening to make sure the new system fits. “If it’s new construction, it’s usually easier because there won’t be a unit in the opening,” Banks explains, “but if it’s a repair/remodel, you’ll have to remove the current pre-hung unit.”
Consider your budget and your maintenance level to determine what type of material your door should be made of. Banks says steel doors are a great starting point as they are “sustainable and cost-effective, offer a broad range of styling solutions such as colors and options for glass.” MacFarlane adds that steel doors are also an excellent choice because they resist shrinking, swelling, and tightening, are maintenance-efficient, and require little maintenance.
Banks recommends fiberglass as well, as it doesn’t dent, rot, or rust, and requires nearly no maintenance. “They are energy-efficient, affordable, and durable fiberglass doors in all climates,” MacFarlane says, “and you can paint them in whatever color or stain them to make a wood grain effect.
While beautiful, wood doors are more expensive and require maintenance, particularly when exposed to the elements. “But they’re strong, secure, and easy to repair scratches,” Hunter says.
The cost of a new door, pre-hung or slab, will vary depending on the kind of material and whether the door is stock or custom. The range of doors can start low and get up to $3,000 for highly made items.
New or Replacement?
If you are considering replacing your door due to a draft, check the weather-stripping and/ or door sweep first; these can wear out over time and are far easier to replace than a whole door. “if the door or frame is bowed or warped, or if the door was poorly put from the start,” Banks explains, “you may need to refit the unit or replace it completely.”
If all you want is an updated aesthetic, designer Robert Lindgren recommends covering a solid door with three square panels or simple stock molding. Another idea Lindgren advises is painting the door a high-gloss paint. Hammered nail heads can also be used for a Spanish colonial or Tudor-style door. Simply tape a pattern or design on the door and then hammer the nails in place.