6 DIY Tips for Installing New Doors In Your Home


There are some home improvement jobs that seem simple enough on the surface, which encourages a lot of people to rush in and try to tackle them solo, rather than hiring a professional.

Installing new doors is the perfect example of this; surely it’s just a matter of removing the old units and screwing in the new ones, right?

Well, it’s a little more complex than that, so if you’re thinking of replacing any doors, the following tips will help you avoid common mistakes made by DIY novices.

Apply decorative elements first

In the case that you’ve got a wooden door to use in your home’s interior, you might be planning to elevate it aesthetically either by painting it or staining it to match the rest of the room that it will sit in.

This is much easier to do before you attempt to install it, and before you’ve even added any of the hardware, such as the hinges and the handle.

If you’ve already hung the door, then you are far more likely to get paint or wood stain on other items in the vicinity, as well as on the hardware, which can be unsightly.

So long as the weather is warm and dry enough, taking your door outside and painting or staining it as the first step makes sense.

Add hinges and handles before hanging

Another important step to get out of the way before you go further down the list of tasks is installing the hinges and handles, as well as any locking mechanism if one is needed.

The hinges should be an obvious priority, but the order is easy to mess up. You don’t want to screw them into the frame, but to the door itself, otherwise lining everything up will be an absolute nightmare.

Also by adding the handles and the lock, you’ll be able to get a sense of where these need to align with the faceplate that’s affixed to the frame. Again, trying to do this the other way around will be challenging or even impossible.

Use plastic shims to help with leveling

The most frequent misstep that DIYers make when installing new doors is not getting them level. This can leave them looking off-kilter and out of whack with the frame and the room, as well as creating the potential for the door to rub against the frame and the floor.

Using plastic shims is the best way to sidestep this. These shims can be inserted along the side and also beneath the door, positioned between it and the frame and the floor, supporting it while you are in the middle of screwing the hinges into the frame.

Don’t discard the shims after you’ve used them, because they’ll prove useful in all sorts of other DIY projects over time, and they’ll be durable enough to remain relevant for years to come!

Make accurate measurements

There’s not a huge margin for error when installing a door, so the more thoroughly and accurately you measure the frame and the positioning of the hardware, the less chance you’ll encounter issues with the fit.

As well as a tape measure, another must-have tool for hanging a door which is often overlooked by amateurs is a spirit level. In combination with the aforementioned shims, you can ensure that both sides of the door are as close to evenly aligned as possible.

Don’t just do this by eye, because depending on the age of your property you might be misled by the angle and alignment of other points of reface, such as the floor or ceiling line.

Check the fit before you install the door

This is another tip that sounds obvious if you think about it for a moment, but which can scupper plenty of people if they’re eager to get their new door installed.

Holding the door and fitting it into the frame that will house it will instantly tell you whether or not the fit is spot-on. If you find that it is too large, you could trim it down to size using a plane, so long as the material allows for it.

If it is too small, it’s best to swap it out for a larger unit, because adding width or height to a door is much trickier than reducing its size.

Ask for help

Installing a new door in your home is a task that’s much less taxing, and safer if you’ve got the assistance of another person.

A willing friend or family member will streamline many of the processes mentioned above, while also lightening the load in terms of the physical aspects of the job.

So with that, you can get started with your door installation project, with all the info you need to succeed.

Sandy Jensen
Sandy Jensen, a celebrated writer in the home and garden niche, boasts over 12 years of hands-on experience. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University. Before joining our team in 2016, she worked as a landscape designer, combining her love for nature and design. Sandy's expertise shines through her articles, offering readers practical and aesthetically pleasing gardening tips. Off the clock, she enjoys hiking and nature photography, further nurturing her connection with the outdoors.

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