Door Replacement Basics

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Door Replacement Basics
Article Excerpt

Learn about the signs of needing door replacement, cost estimates for installation, and differences between exterior and interior doors.

Doors take a great deal of abuse. That includes front doors, back doors, side doors, and interior doors. No door is safe from human activity. Doors that lead outside in Texas homes must also contend with hot weather, cold weather, wind, rain, and occasionally snow.

How do we know when it is time to replace a door? What’s involved in that process? Read on to learn more about how to care for your home’s doors.

What Are The Signs That You Need to Replace a Door?

Some signs that it might be time to get a new door include the following:

  • It takes great effort to get the door open or closed. (This can also be a sign of foundation issues)!

  • The door has more damage — dings, scratches, etc. — than you care to look at anymore.

  • The door is literally falling apart.

  • The door is out of style or outdated.

  • The door doesn’t block sound as well as it used to, which could be a sign of decay.

  • The windows on the door have condensation between the glass panes.

Not all of these situations necessarily mean that you need to replace your door altogether. If the door itself is too physically damaged, or too out of style, it’s probably time to replace it. If the door isn’t opening and closing right, or if the latch or deadbolt isn’t catching, the problem might be elsewhere.

A shifting foundation can cause doors not to align with their door frames. This can occur seasonally, meaning that the doors will go back to normal when the weather changes. It could also be a sign that you need someone to look at your foundation. You can also have a contractor reset your door frame so that the door will open and close normally.

Man fixing lock on glass door.

How Are Interior And Exterior Doors Different?

Interior and exterior doors serve different purposes. Exterior doors are between the inside of your home and the outside. They have to protect the home from the outside world - namely from weather elements. Exterior doors use two or more materials for added durability, such as a metal frame surrounded by wood or fiberglass. Door frames for exterior doors also have weather-stripping to protect against losing A/C or heat.

An interior door typically consists of one material, usually wood or a wood product. Its basic job is to separate rooms in a house, and perhaps as a bonus, to isolate noise. Insulation and weather-proofing should not be a consideration whether in the door frame or with the materials used for the door itself.

Exterior doors at the front of the house usually involve hinges, latches, and bolts. Interior doors may also use hinges and latches, but they offer more room for innovation. Pocket doors that slide into the wall are common for many closets and bathrooms. Sliding glass doors are common for backyard or patio access.

Exterior and interior doors may both feature knobs with locking features, but exterior door locks are of a higher grade, making it more difficult to break in. Additionally, exterior doors commonly use a deadbolt while interior doors do not.

Front door seen down the hallway from inside the home.

How Much Does Door Installation Cost?

The cost of installing a new door involves more than just the door itself. Doors are more complicated than they look. A typical door consists of multiple parts, all of which work together to achieve something — opening and closing — that seems simple most of the time. In addition to the door, you have a door frame, hinges, latches, striker plates, door knobs, and locks. If any of these parts are not cooperating, the door won’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Getting a new door usually also means getting a new door frame. Houses shift over time, which causes doors and door frames to shift, too. The odds of a brand new door fitting into an existing door frame are slim to none. Even the tiniest shift of a few millimeters will mean you have to reset the entire door frame. The cost of a new door therefore includes both materials and labor.

The exact cost will depend on the type of door you choose. Generally speaking, you might expect to pay the following for different types of doors:

  • Interior door: $100 to $270

  • Exterior door: $370 to $730

  • Patio door: $480 to $770

Wooden double door with cast iron pull handles.

Can a Layperson DIY a New Door?

As discussed above, installing a new door usually also involves installing a new door frame. If you are able to fit a new door into an existing frame, installation should be fairly simple. Otherwise, a DIY job will require carpentry skills and tools.

Steps in Replacing a Door

To install a new door in an existing frame, you’ll need to make sure the new door matches the height, width, and thickness of the old door. You can remove the pins from the hinges in order to remove the old door. Then, you can line up the hinges on the new door with the hinges on the door frame and put the pins back in.

If the new door won’t fit in the old frame, you will need a new door frame. Many doors are sold with door frames included, which spares you the trouble of building a new frame. You’ll need a measurement of the rough opening, which is the size of the space in the wall where the door and its frame will go. You’ll have to remove the door, the trim, and the jambs before you can begin installing the new equipment.

Door handle bumping against the wall.

Consequences of Installing a Door Incorrectly

If a door is not installed properly, it can have effects on your home that range from annoying to dangerous, such as the following:

  • A door doesn’t close completely, which can create security problems if it’s your front door.

  • A misaligned door swings open or closed without a human action.

  • Inadequate weather stripping causes your electric or gas bill to go up. If the weather stripping is bad enough, it can let rain into the home.

Swap Doors (And Anything Else!) as a Homeowner

Tired of looking at the same old particle board doors with twenty years of wear and tear? As a homeowner, you are free to change them to your heart’s delight! Gain freedom for customization and upgrade your space. Your first step is answering a few easy questions to start your mortgage pre-approval!