How to Replace a Front Door

Entryway of brick New England home with picket fence
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Your front door is not only great for your home’s curb appeal but also vital to the safety of your family and home. If your door is showing signs of aging, it might be time to replace. This is an asset of a home that most homeowners take for granted because they are supposed to last up to 30 years. With a lifespan that long, you should pay attention to its condition and continued appeal.

When Should You Replace Your Front Door? 

If your front door is letting hot or cold air leak in and out or if it isn’t closing properly, it’s time to replace.

Replacing your front door will add to your home’s value, improve your home’s security, and can even increase energy savings.

Updating old or worn styles is another popular reason to replace. It’s an exterior focal point that makes a big impact, so replacing with a brand-new style will increase your home’s overall look and feel.

How to Replace a Front Door

Luckily, this is an easy DIY task compared to others in your home, but if you don’t feel up to the task, the average cost to replace your front door is around $400. This may seem expensive, but when compared to the price of the door, hiring a professional can be cost effective and give you the peace of mind that the job is done right.

Supplies Needed

  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Finishing Nails
  • Insulation
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Flat bar or Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Caulking Gun
  • Caulk
  • Wood Shims
  • Reciprocating Saw

Removing Your Current Door & Frame

  1. Remove the outside trim and molding of your current door from the rough frame of your home carefully. Depending on your new door, you may have to save the existing trim, if your new door comes with trim attached, discard of existing trim.
  1. Remove the metal hinge pins of your existing door to remove it. Then remove the metal hinges with a drill.
  2. Use a screwdriver or hammer to remove the screws or nails that attach your sill to your homes rough frame.
  3. Remove any nails that are connecting your homes rough frame to the door frame.
  4. Get rid of any wood shims that are wedged between the rough and existing frames.
  1. Take out the existing frame from the rough frame of your home. You may need to use a pry bar.
  2. Check your home’s rough frame for signs of rotting or damage. If you find anything questionable, contact a professional to check the area and make necessary repairs.

Installing Your New Door

  1. Measure and ensure the new frame and door will fit properly. Slide your door and molding into the existing space between your home’s rough frame.
  2. Level the sill (where your door sits) to make sure it’s level and square so your new door will be flush.
  3. Make sure your new door will clear the floor. Measure your new door from the bottom of its sill to the bottom of the door. Then, measure the height of your existing interior flooring to make sure that the opening door will not hit the flooring. Tip: If the new door won't clear, raise entire the doorframe with a piece of treated wood secured to the subfloor with caulk and screws.
  4. Weatherproof the sill before securing your new door and door frame to your home’s rough frame. The board you choose should be pressure treated wood, because the sill of your door will face the elements. Weatherproof your sill by applying caulk to the underside of the sill, and place down firmly. To secure this more, carefully nail down the sill. 
  1. Inspect the gap between your home’s rough frame and your new doors frame. Look for areas of rot or pest damage. If you find rot or damage, contact a professional to figure out the best solution before continuing this project.
  2. Use the wood shims to adjust the new door frame so it is square and flush at the opening. At each hinge location, insert wood shims between the door and rough frame.
  3. Drive screws through the metal hinges and into the wood shims in the gaps.
  4. On the opposite side (lock side) insert wood shims at the top and bottom of the new frame. Drive screws through the frame into the shims.
  5. After inserting and securing the shims around the door frame with your screws, double check the spacing around the door frame, specifically around the top, middle and bottom.
  6. Open and close the door a couple of times to make sure it is working properly and not scratching or skimming your floor.
  1. Clean or cut off any shims that are sticking out of the door frame.
  2. Fill in the gaps around the door frame with insulation. You can use fiberglass insulation spray or padded insulation.
  3. Let the insulation dry and remove any excess that is sticking out of the frame.
  4. Reattach the trim of the door. You will either have trim that comes with your new door, or you can reuse the existing trim.
  5. Apply any desired stains or paints to your new door and trim. If you need to paint or stain, remove your new door from the hinges and work on a sawhorse.

Now it’s time to enjoy your home’s increased curb appeal, efficiency, and safety. If you run into any issues along the way, find a qualified professional to make sure your project is done right.