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Guidelines for Hanging a Prehung Door


These days, it’s simpler than ever to hang a door. Prehung doors had made door installation easier than when specialized equipment and expertise were required.

You’d have to do all the mortising, drilling, and rabbeting on the spot after you got the door slab, the unassembled door jamb, the hinges, and the hardware.

You won’t have to go hunting for a drill, mortising jig for hinges, striking plate, or bolt plate anymore. There is no doorknob and bolt backset drilling jig.

These days, a hammer, some hard trim nails, a finish nail gun, and some shims are all required.

First, ensure the door fits through the opening you intend to hang it in. It needs to be 2″ wider in width than the door opening. The rough start still has to be pretty square and plumb.

It’s a good idea to double-check the level and framing square if someone else stated the opening. Sometimes drywallers will let the drywall extend into the rough start because they think it was made for them. If so, trim it back using a Sawzall or drywall saw.

After ensuring everything is in working order, you can hang a door. Prehung doors can be built in two different ways. You can buy them with or without the trim already mitered and nailed onto one side. Before installing a door, I always ensure the edge is in place. The side of the hinge where the frame is attached.

Most entryways lead into a room and rest flush against a wall. Put the door in the opening so that its center is at the center of the aperture. The door jamb should have some wiggle room to the left and right within the door frame. On the hinge side of the door, there should be a space of about 1/8 inch between the jamb and the door. This determines how much room you need on either side of the door. The door jamb can be shifted to the left or right to create the required headroom. You can attach the trim to the top and bottom hinge sides when you’re done. Next, nail the striking side to the top, leaving the equal room. Add another three or four nails to finish up the hinge side. Usually, I use the two nails that are already on the top. Now, working from the top down, nail the rest of the strike side, leaving the same room between each nail as you did with the top and hinge side.

Shim the door jamb once the door has been hammered into the interior aperture. First, close the door entirely and evenly against the strike side door and stop by closing it. If it is just making contact at the top, bring the hinge side toward you until it makes contact on both sides. If it only makes contact at the bottom, move the jamb on the hinge side away from you and try again.

Carefully insert shims between the jamb and stud opening once adequately positioned so it does not bow into the space. Use a straight edge if you need to ensure accuracy. I installed shims above and below the strike side and behind each hinge and strike. I use two nails on either side of the stop to secure the shims.

The exterior door casing is the next component to be installed. The installation of the door hardware can then begin. The door should close tightly against the stops, and the bolt should engage the strike plate.

(c) 2005 Merisko, Mike

For the past 26 years, Mike Merisko has worked as a carpenter. The majority of that time was spent working in construction and renovation. In addition to his carpentry work, he also worked as a general contractor. While it is where his skills shine, he also makes a fortune doing commercials and shows construction and bridge construction. His website features a plethora of articles written by him and others.

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