Door Replacement, what you should know
With a well-built home typically lasting for years, we often don’t think about the long-term maintenance needed to upkeep some of the more conspicuous parts of houses. In fact, when someone mentions “maintenance”, we might think of the roof or the foundation. But how often do we think of our doors?
The fact is that damaged doors can present a problem. Not only are they aesthetically unpleasant, they can reduce your energy efficiency if the frame has suffered weather damage. Whether you want to replace a door due to aesthetics or for more structural reasons, you have a couple of options in front of you.
Door Replacement: When is it Time to Consider?
Doors are often the first thing we see when approaching a house, whether it is from the front or out back on a patio. Because of this, we might not often think about them. The truth of the matter is that old doors can be damaged and unsightly due to age. Houses also settle, meaning that water and air can get in between the door frame and the house, causing damage to the door or the house itself.
So, there are a few situations where a new or replacement door should be (or will have to be) considered:
- When building a new home,
- When building an addition that requires an external entrance, like a patio (with a patio door),
- When your door has been damaged (including scratches, scuffs, or dents), or
- When your door frame is old and damaged due to weather or due to your house settling over time.
What Kinds of Installations Are There?
Not all door replacements are created equal. In general, there are a few different kinds of replacements, depending on your situation.
- Pre-Hung Door Installations: Pre-Hung doors are just this: the door (or “slab”, which is the part we just call the door) is already part of a premeasured frame. The slab is mounted on the hinges of the frame, and the frame is ready to slide in to a portion of the wall.
- Slab Doors: This is simply the “door” component, without the frame, hinges, or handles. A “slab” installation literally means that you take a door, trim it to fit an existing door frame, and install handles, hinges, and other hardware manually.
- Antique or Existing Door Replacements: If you buy a pre-existing door, or perhaps move an existing door from another home or another part of your own home and fit it into a new or existing door frame.
- Storm Doors: Storm doors cover existing exterior exits and entrances with glass and/or screen coverings to protect them from the weather. These typically come in self-contained kits that fit into existing door frames and are made for easy replacement throughout different seasons.
- Patio Doors: Patio doors are doors that lead to outdoor patio areas. These differ from traditional exterior doors in that they include models that slide on tracks or are comprised primarily of glass.
The main difference in approaches here depends on what you need. The pre-hung doors are built to fit an exterior portal with no frame. Custom slabs are purposed (or need to be fit) into an existing frame (or a frame custom-built for the exterior of the house. Storm and patio doors are a little more specific due to their use and location, so here we will focus on traditional exterior locations and door replacement.
What Does It Mean to Replace a Door?
For pre-hung doors, replacement means getting a door and frame that fits the exact dimensions of the opening in the exterior of your home. Since the prehung includes the frame already, the installation involves sliding the door, frame and all, into the wall and securing it to 2x4 studs.
When installing a prehung door, measure the width, length, and depth of the intended entryway to ensure a perfect fit. Then, caulk the inside of the frame and any trim with weatherproof sealant so that there is a seal between the wood and the door frame on each side of the opening. Then slide the entire door, frame and all, into that opening.
Once it is in, installers will shim parts of the door to ensure a proper fit. If a door isn’t installed correctly, then problems can emerge from water damage and loss of energy efficiency in the home. Once a secure fit is ensured, longer wood screws can be used to connect the frame to the studs on each side of the frame.
Installing a slab door can seem a little easier at first. After all, the only component is the door itself! However, you shouldn’t actually work with a slab door unless you have at least some familiarity with carpentry. Hanging a slab door requires trimming the slab for fit into the existing frame, cutting a hole for the door handle, and marketing proper locations for hinges. The process requires accurate measurements and cutting for all aspects of the door, from fit to hardware, to ensure a proper installation.
What Kind of Replacement Should You Look For?
Determining what kind of door replacement or installation you want to use depends on the situation you find yourself in.
- If you are working with a new home or a completely new entryway into your home, then go with pre-hung installation. Likewise, if you are replacing a door with a damaged frame that needs replaced, then prehung is what you want.
- If you have an existing frame that still has structural integrity, and you just want to replace a damaged door, then going with a slab can save you some money if you are willing to put in the extra work (or hire someone to do it). Likewise, if you have an antique door that you want to fit into a pre-existing frame, the you are working with a slab.
In order to protect your new door, you’ll probably want to install a storm door. Luckily, storm door installations are much simpler than replacing an entire door. Most storm doors come in kits built to fit most standard door frame sizes and come with their own set of instructions.
Replacing Exterior Doors Shouldn’t Be Stressful
Replacing an external door or storm door, whether it is for your patio or front door, shouldn’t be stressful, but rather a challenging and interesting project for the weekend. However, assistance is required from professionals who specialize in installing doors in any home or potential situation. These professionals can ensure that the door replacement and installation go off without a hitch. Furthermore, professional installation helps protect your home from damage due to an ill-fitting door slab or door frame. Finally, poorly installed doors can lead to loss of heat and cooling, reducing your home’s energy efficiency and potentially raising your bills.
If you feel like you have the time and skill to replace an exterior door, there are several options. But if you want the job done right without the hassle, and exactly to your specifications, look for local door replacement experts who can get in, install the door, and get out.