Project #2: A new front door!
Don’t get me wrong, this door is adorable!! In fact, I think it will become my new pantry door at home.
(If you’d like to see what I did with this door, click here.)
For functionality, the door needed to be replaced. I could see day light through the cracks and I would prefer to have a sturdier lock on the door. You can see the gap in the door in the picture to the right.
Replacing a door was a first for me… here is how I got the job done:
There are two options for removing the door from the frame. In the first picture you’ll see the hinges. In most doors, you can pull the pins out of the center of the hinges (using a screw driver and a hammer to tap the pins upward usually works well). This would be best if you were leaving the hinges in place and replacing the door. In this case, since I was going to be removing the hinges anyways, I used my drill to unscrew the door from the hinges and then removed the hinges from the door frame. It seemed like the easier plan. Keep your hardware if you plan to use the door again!
After removing all of the door hardware, I used a crow bar and a rubber mallet to carefully pry the trim away from the door frame. Go crazy with the hammer if you want to. Most likely, the trim won’t be salvageable or worth saving. I was trying to contain my mess. Do be cautious of the frame pieces. Those finish nails can be brutal!!
I LOVE OLD HOUSES!! Look what I found behind the door frame acting as insulation! Rolled up newspapers from 1936!! So cool!! Unfortunately, they were extremely fragile and I couldn’t unroll them without them falling apart in my hands.
Once I was done trying to read the old newspapers (looks like drama and politics were prevalent in 1936 as well!), I continued removing all of the old door frame that was present until all that was left was the rough cut boards of the siding. My crowbar and rubber mallet worked well to remove everything that I wanted gone. (So much for containing my mess!! Haha).
There was an old door bell that didn’t appear to work. In my vacation house, I don’t have any desire to have a door bell… so I took it off and capped the wires. Be careful not to shock yourself. These don’t appear to be hot (judging by the fact that I didn’t get shocked), but since the electrical is old and I don’t know much about how or when the wiring was done, I capped them anyways, just to be safe.
If you haven’t purchased a broom for the new place yet…
No problem, use the air compressor. 🙂
If you buy a pre-hung door, like I did, it comes in a 4 inch frame or in a 6 inch frame. This should match up with the dimensions of the door frame. In the clean up picture above, you’ll notice that the old 2×4 frame is present. Because my old door was an odd size (one of the joys of old home remodeling), I used a 2×4 on the top and 1x4s on the sides to bring in the dimensions to be closer to the size of my purchased door. I just used wood screws to do this. Keep in mind, old houses are rarely level and straight. We’ll make the door level with the next steps.
There is nothing fancy about my frame. Just bringing the prior frame in a bit to fit my new door. (Also, sneak peak of the beautiful wood floors that were hiding under the laminate!!)
Once my 2×4 frame is in place, I stood the door frame up inside my new frame. This is the challenging part. Using shims on all sides of the door frame (between the door and the permanent frame), level the door.
Shims are small wedge shaped pieces of wood that will be used to hold the frame just right while you level and secure.
This picture shows some shims between the frames.
Keep moving the shims until the door is level in all directions (this was the hardest part for me, especially since I was by myself). I took the door off of the hinges for this process. I thought that leaving it on would help keep the frame square and in the right shape (they’re a little flimsy), but it made the whole frame too heavy to move around and get level. Once I had the shims all in place and everything level, I replaced the door on the hinges to make sure it opened and closed correctly before securing the frame. With the door in place, I used my nail gun to secure the pre-hung door frame to the frame on the house.
Once the frame was secured, I felt like I was on the home stretch! I took some pink insulation and stuffed it between the two frames where there were cracks to help with efficiency. After this, it’s all cosmetic!!
I put my door handle and lock on and felt pretty good when it all lined up and clicked and locked. 🙂 (I guess this step is cosmetic AND functional).
There are a lot of options for trim for door and window frames. It really comes down to what you like for style. I am somewhat limited due to the width mine has to be to cover the old siding and butt up against the new siding (you can see the layering above). I chose to use 1×6 pine boards for my trim. It’s easy, relatively cheap, and can be cut and painted however I want. I made sure any gaps that would be present after the trim was placed had insulation stuffed in them.
I painted the trim prior to putting it up. I figured the painting would be easier and all I would have to do was touch up after I secured it. I then used the nail gun to secure the trim to the house.
I used wood putty to fill the nail holes and allowed it to dry before sanding it down so it won’t be visible after the frame and trim has been painted. Use a putty knife to really fill the holes. This particular wood putty goes on purple and turns a light tan when it is dry and ready to sand. It’s my favorite kind! It’s easy to know when you can come back and start sanding.
I like these little sanding blocks for projects like this:
They are easy to hold and work well. Typically, when sanding, you start with a larger grit/rougher (lower number) sand paper and move to a smaller grit/finer (higher number) sand paper.
This is what it looks like after sanding, and is smooth when you run your fingers over.
I used white, paint-able caulking in all of the cracks between the trim and frame to create a seamless look. If you were doing trim on the inside of the house, you would want to run the caulking around the outside of the trim against the wall. This provides a cleaner look. I won’t be doing trim on the inside until I remodel the entryway (there is a lot of paneling that needs to come down before I worry about trim!)
Caulking is easy to apply with this ‘caulk gun.’ Use a wet finger to smooth any imperfections before the caulking dries. Read the tube to make sure you’re getting the appropriate caulking for your project. I would also recommend making sure yours is paint-able.
I used a nice angled paint brush to paint the trim. The shape allows for precision when painting.
Last step; step back and look at your handy work!! (Remember, I painted my trim before putting it up. The messy white paint on the red siding was already there from the previous owners. Just clarifying. 🙂 I need to fix it.)
For a quick tutorial on making your own summery wreath, click here.
Let’s talk about how much this project costs:
- Door (this price will vary a lot based on the door, the glass, the material, etc). $139
- Door knob and dead bolt (will also vary depending on style) $34.95
- 8 foot 2×4 for frame $3.29
- Two 8 foot 1x4s for frame $12.22
- Shims $1.87
- Insulation (I used 2 of the small rolls) $10.96
- Trim (two 1x4s and one 1×6) $23.41
- Wood Putty $4.18
- Paintable Caulking $4.38
- Quart of Paint $14.67
Let’s talk about professional quotes:
HomeAdvisor reports that most home owners spend between $479 and $1398 to replace an exterior door.
THIS IS WHY I LOVE TO DO MY OWN PROJECTS!!! 🙂
Tools required for the project:
I would be willing to bet that most people have most of these laying around! It’s always nice when a project doesn’t require a bunch of new tools.
- Crow bar
- Hammer or rubber mallet
- Nail gun and compressor
- Putty knife
- Sandpaper or sanding block
- Caulking gun
- Paint brush and supplies
Wrapping up… I’ll take a minute to reflect on my project and grade it. 🙂
Why did I give it this grade? Honestly, because of the time and energy it took to get the door level with the shims. Aside from this little (BIG) step, the project was fun! I mean really, who doesn’t love some demolition!?
Thanks for taking the time to read my post!! If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!