How To Hang A Door In An Existing Frame? [7 Steps]

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Doors can be painted and repainted to cover dirt and scratches, scuffs, and grime. However, sometimes a new coat of paint just won’t cut it, and the door simply needs to be replaced. The frame is perfectly good, and tearing it out would only add to the project. So how do you hang the new door in an existing frame? To answer this query, we have put together a detailed step by step process.

Although pre-hung doors are meant to make things easier, nobody wants to tear out a good door frame. Follow these directions to install your new door in the existing frame:

  1. Cut the door to size.
  2. Transfer hinge mortise. 
  3. Drill knob hole.
  4. Mortise and drill lock-set.
  5. Install the lockset, knob, and hinges.
  6. Hang the door.
  7. Adjust if needed.

While these are the simple directions, more goes into each step that you should be aware of. Keep reading to get the full directions and additional information.

Modern colonial house with decorative stones on the porch and a black door with framing painted in white, How To Hang A Door In An Existing Frame? [7 Steps]

How to Hang a Door in an Existing Frame?

Choosing a Door

There are two types of interior doors available. Solid core, or slab doors, and hollow core doors. Slab doors are not always made of wood, but they are solid all the way through. Hollow-core doors, obviously, are hollow in the center. These cannot be cut and adjusted to fit the door frame, which will be necessary for this project. Therefore, when you buy a new door for an existing door jamb, you need to purchase a solid core door. 

Materials List

  • Solid Core Door
  • Circular Saw
  • Hand Planer
  • Straight Edge
  • Drill
  • Hole Saw Bits
  • Drill Bits
  • Clamps
  • Hammer
  • Utility Knife
  • Chisel
  • Measuring Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil 

Do I Need All These Tools?

Sometimes, it can be tempting to make do with what we have in the tool department. However, having the tools that are needed is going to make all the difference in this project. Try to have all of your tools laid out and ready before you begin.

Hanging A Door – Step by Step

1. Cut The Door To Size

You would be hard-pressed to find a door that fits perfectly in the old jamb. Often, doors are planed down during installation, so they are not all uniform.

Trace Template

Using the old door as a template, cut the new door down to size. Keep the hinge-side and top of the doors flush as you clamp the doors together. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the old door onto the new one.

Click here to find these clamps on Amazon.

Cut 

Before you remove the clamps, you can use a utility knife to score the new slab. This will make it easier to cut straight and even. Now, take the doors apart and cut the new door to size. A circular saw is the best option for this job. After you have cut, you will want to use a hand planer to smooth everything out.

Alternatively, sometimes there is only a small amount to cut in the first place. If this is the case, a hand planer can be used in place of the saw.

Click here to buy this hand planer on Amazon.

2. Transfer Hinge Mortise

Next, you will want to mortise (or a pocket cut-out) for the hinge placements.

Measure

Set the old door on top of the new, with the hinge-edges together. Carefully measure the width and height of the mortise and transfer the hinge placement to the new door. A combination square can be very helpful in this. The accuracy of your mortise can affect how well your door hangs. 

Click here to find this combination square on Amazon.

Score

Carefully score the outline of your mortise with a utility knife. This outside scoring will act as a brake for your chisel and keep you from tearing into your door accidentally.

Click here to buy this utility knife on Amazon.

Cut

Using a hammer and chisel, cut the hinge mortise into your new door. This step should be done slowly and carefully. The end goal is to have the hinge flush with the door’s edge. Frequently set the hinge in place to test if it fits.

Click here to find this 3/4″ wood chisel on Amazon.

3. Drill Knob Hole

Look through your hole saw set to find the right bit for your knob. Carefully measure to ensure accurate placement and drill your hole. If you are installing a new knob/lockset, refer to the manufacturer’s directions for the size. Conversely, if you are using the old knob/lockset, copy the old door’s hole. 

Click here for this hole saw set on Amazon.

4. Mortise and Drill Lockset

You will need to create a mortise or cut-out for the lockset in the same way you did the hinges. Carefully measure and transfer the form from the original door. Score the outer edges and chisel the mortise. Then use a spade bit to drill a hole for the lockset.

Click here for this spade bit set on Amazon.

5. Install the Lockset, Knob, and Hinges

Lockset/latch

Insert the latch into your pre-drilled hole. Be sure to position the latch so that the slanted edge is facing the door jamb. Install the screws with a screwdriver. Tighten them until they are snug, but be sure not to strip them out.

Knob

Line up the rods in your knob with the holes in the latch. The center rod is a specific shape, so be sure to align the knob correctly. As you lightly press the latch in, slide the knob through the latch. On the opposite side of the door, position the other side of your knob. Then use a screwdriver to install the screws.

Hinges

Position your hinges in the mortise, and drill pilot holes. This will ensure that you do not split the door when installing the screws. Screw the hinges to your door.

Click here to buy this bit set on Amazon.

6. Hang the Door

Believe it or not, this is the easy part! Fit the hinges together in the door frame and drop in the hinge pins. You may need to lightly tap them with a hammer to get them to drop fully.

7. Adjust if Needed

Because you are using the old door as a template, there should be only a minimal adjustment needed. However, sometimes, even careful measuring can be a bit off. If your door sticks slightly or rubs the edge of the door frame, you will need to adjust it. Take the door off of its hinges and shave the edge that is sticking. Shave a little bit at a time, using a hand planer, until the door swings freely.

How Long Will It Take To Hang A Door In An Existing Frame?

If everything goes smoothly, it shouldn’t take more than four to five hours to install a new door in an existing frame. Because there is not much adjustment needed, this is an easier and faster process than installing a pre-hung door. However, a lot depends on your skill level and how much adjustment is needed. This project can take several hours longer in some situations. Having the right tools for the job will have a big impact on your timeline.

Can A Door Frame Be Repaired?

This depends on what is wrong with the doorframe and the level of damage that has occurred. Warping, water damage, splitting, and other problems can be fixed as long as the damage is not too extensive. 

Can You Replace Part Of A Door Frame?

Yes! You can. Sometimes damage has only occurred in a portion of the door frame. The rest of the frame may be salvageable. You will need to be careful not to disfigure the rest of the frame when you remove the damaged portion. It would be best if you also tried to match the wood and any designs as closely as you can.

What Holds A Door To The Frame?

Hinges work both to hold the door on the frame and to allow it to swing freely back and forth. One leaf of the hinge is set into the door, and the other is set into the frame. Screws hold in each leaf, and they are connected together by hinge pins.

Conclusion

Installing a new door in an existing frame is not as intimidating as you may have thought. It sure is a whole lot easier than tearing the old frame out and starting over! 

Before you navigate away, we have many other articles that may be helpful to you!

How To Paint A Front Door Without Removing It? [5 Easy Steps]

Can Bedroom Doors Open Out? [Here’s Why Yours Shouldn’t]

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