How to Install a Solid-Wood Exterior Door

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on April 3, 2016

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General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install a new, energy-efficient wood door. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

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Shopping List for How to Install a Solid-Wood Exterior Door:
– Pre-hung wood entry door
– Minimal-expansion insulating foam, to seal cracks and voids
– Exterior-grade acrylic-latex caulk, to seal threshold
– 2 1/2-inch nails for pneumatic nailer
– Wood shims, to shim the doorframe
– 3-inch decking screws, to fasten doorjamb to framing
– Fiberglass insulation, to fill large voids

Tools List for How to Install a Solid-Wood Exterior Door:
– Hammer
– Slotted screwdriver
– Utility knife
– Flat bar, for prying off casings
– Reciprocating saw, to cut through nails
– Level
– Caulk gun
– Pneumatic nailer and air compressor
– Cordless drill
– Impact driver

Steps for How to Install a Solid-Wood Exterior Door:
1. Tap out the hinge pins from the old door using a hammer and a slotted screwdriver. Remove the door.
2. Use a utility knife to cut along the outer edge of the interior door casings. Slice through any paint or old caulk.
3. Pry the side and head casings free using a hammer and flat bar.
4. Use a reciprocating saw fitted with a metal-cutting blade to slice through the nails holding the side and head jambs in place.
5. Pry the jambs out of the doorway opening.
6. Check to ensure that the threshold and side casings are level.
7. Fill the voids around the doorway opening with minimal-expansion insulating foam.
8. Apply a thick, continuous bead of acrylic-latex caulk along the threshold.
9. Set the pre-hung door into the opening, then tip it up and into place.
10. Center the door in the opening, then check the side jambs for plumb.
11. Secure the door by nailing through the exterior casings and into the jambs.
12. Tap out the hinge pins and remove the new door from its frame.
13. Pull out the weatherstripping along the side jambs.
14. Slip wood shims behind the side jamb on the hinge side of the doorframe. Then use a level to ensure the jamb is perfectly straight and not bowed in or out.
15. Shoot 2 1/2-inch nails through the jamb and shims into the house framing.
16. Drill screw-shank clearance holes through the jambs; position the holes where they'll be hidden by the weatherstripping.
17. Drive 3-inch decking screws through the holes in the jambs and into the house framing.
18. Repeat Steps 13 through 17 to straighten and secure the latch-side jamb.
19. Cut the shims flush with the jambs using a utility knife.
20. Spray insulating foam into the voids around the doorjambs.
21. Fill any large voids with fiberglass insulation.
22. Reattach the weatherstripping to the jambs.
23. Nail new wood casing around the interior of the door.
24. Caulk the joints between the new doorframe and the exterior casing.
25. Apply an exterior-grade finish to both sides and all four edges of the wood door.

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