Level of Difficulty: Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
Completion Time: 3 Hours
Exterior doors feature prominently in the facade of a home. Although we recommended you call upon a professional to install your exterior door, you may decide to do the job yourself. Be sure to take time to do it properly, and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. A poorly-installed door will be less energy-efficient and mechanisms will eventually break down.
This guide outlines the steps to follow to successfully install an exterior door. A door is very heavy, so this should be a two-person job.
- Mitre box
- All-purpose knife
- Caulking gun
- Wood shims
- Finishing nails
- Galvanized framing nails
- Trim and moulding
- Fibreglass wool
- Silicone-based caulking
- Galvanized screws
Whether this is a renovation project or new construction, taking exact measurements is essential.
The standard depth of door frames in Quebec is 7 ¼", whereas in other provinces it is 4 9/16”.
Verify the door opening, either right or left-handed.
For new construction:
Measure the opening between the studs at three different places for width, height and depth, and keep the smallest measurement for each; the door will adjust in the opening.
For renovation: brick or vinyl cladding
Remove mouldings to expose door jambs. Take three measurements for interior width and three measurements for interior height. For depth, measure the width of the drywall, from drywall to brick (brick exterior cladding) or drywall to mid-moulding of exterior cladding (vinyl siding).
Take three measurements and keep the smallest of the three.
1.2. Verify the condition of the door frame and threshold, and replace or repair if needed.
Make sure the threshold is water and moisture tight.
1.3. Make sure the threshold is level; if not, level it with wood shims.
1.4. Place the door frame in the opening making sure you leave sufficient space around the door (3/8” on either side and on top).
1.5. Remove the door.
2.2. Set the door in the opening and apply pressure to the perimeter; you need to get a good seal.
2.3. Adjust the threshold and insert shims if necessary.
2.4. Make sure the jamb on the hinge side is level, inserting shims where needed.
2.5. Temporarily screw in the jambs with two 3” No.8 screws under the weatherstripping, one screw above the upper door hinge, and one screw below the centre door hinge.
2.6. From the inside, level the jambs on both sides and insert shims between the wall stud and jamb at lock and hinges level.
Leave a space of 1/8" between the jamb and the door.
2.7. Remove manufacturer’s tags.
2.8. Test the operation of the door (make sure the door opens and closes properly).
Fasteners secure the door to the framing through shims at hinge locations. Shims inserted on the other side should be at the same height.
3.2. Replace two of the four screws from each hinge with specialty hinge screws (generally supplied by the manufacturer).
The new, longer screws will penetrate the studs better and make the whole installation more solid and secure.
3.3. Lift the weatherstripping and screw in the side jamb on the hinge side.
3.4. Lift the weather-stripping and screw in the side jamb on the handle side, keeping an equal distance between the door and jamb (the distance should be the same on all sides).
4.2. Test the operation of the door before driving in the nails.
4.3. Nail the exterior moulding to the studs every 12" with galvanized framing nails.
4.4. Drive in the nail heads with a nail punch.
5.1. Trim off excess shims with a multi-purpose knife, ensuring the wall is vertically plumb.
5.2. Insert fibreglass insulation into the voids between the doorframe and opening.
Use a flat instrument but take care not to compact the fiberglass wool, since trapped air is an insulation factor.
5.3. Fill the space between the studs and door jambs with urethane foam.
As a test, apply some foam and wait 30 minutes to observe the level of expansion. Be sure not to apply too much, to avoid exerting pressure on the frame and causing it to bend.
6.2. Use a paintable product so you can harmonize the colour with the exterior cladding of the house.
6.3. Install the handle, lock and interior frame.