Fitting external doors
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This article provides advice on how to fit an external door.
Video showing how to fit an external door and frame set
This section includes information on accurate measuring of doors and door frames prior to fitting interior or exterior doors.
Accurate measuring and cutting is required when you fit a door, please refer to the following DIY pages after reading these paragraphs for further advice. If you are not the most experienced of DIY enthusiasts it is advisable to ask someone experienced to assist you.
Timber doors and/or frames, you will need to check that your door is or can be one of our standard sizes which are regularly used, if it is not, either refer to your preferred choice of door within our web site, email for advice on altering the standard door to size or choose to purchase a Bespoke (made to size) door.
We can, in most cases, offer an alternative idea before you go to the expense of buying a bespoke door, the Standard sizes we use for exterior doors are numerous; please refer to our web site.
You can in most cases cut solid timber External doors to fit a smaller size opening by up to 20mm (3/4") from each of the four edges. Please allow the new door to sit somewhere dry overnight to acclimatise.
Do not stand the door against an external wall as this can encourage it to twist or bow, always try and decorate the door before fitting and choose a dry day to fit it.
Measuring external doors and Frames; When measuring either your interior or exterior door ignore the current door size and follow this advice and any relevant advice offered throughout our DIY pages.
Width: Measure the door between the frame at the top, the middle and the bottom.
Tell us or choose a door(s) to suit the widest size, always remember that you are responsible for making sure that the widest size can be adjusted by you to suit the narrow area of any part of the opening without compromising the stability or affecting the look of the door.
Height: Measure from the carpet/floor covering to the underside of the timber lintol.
Thickness: Now and only now do you measure the door to find out how thick it is at present, with Interior doors you may have to compromise and fit a slightly thinner door, this does not normally present any problems.
REMEMBER WHEN MEASURING FRAMES; The above advice may be different if ordering a door and frame, always check the overall outside sizes of the frame against the overall inside sizes of the frame and choose the correct combination of those sizes to suit the opening and to ensure the frame will go in to the opening, this may involve you ordering a frame that is slightly smaller than the current frame, now measure the frame breadth, ie; from the inside face to the outside face, you can always add a sub frame or concealed plates to make a frame fit the width or height but it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to adjust the frame if you have ordered it too big.
Please Note: The DIY advice provided is only a guideline for the installation of interior or exterior doors. We cannot accept liability for any mishap, injury or damage caused to you, your property or a third party while using any of the above tips and advice.
All our advice is offered freely but you should always take care to ensure that your interpretation of the advice is sensible before proceeding with any project however small.
See the above DIY info and read the other diy pages for more advice, especially if ordering or fitting a timber frame.
1. Stand the door in front of the frame. If the door overlaps the frame or is tight between the door and the frame, then mark with a pencil where the adjustments are required.
There should be a 2mm or 3mm gap between the door and the frame on both sides and the top.
If you do need to cut the door down to size, keep in mind that you need to cut all four sides of the door equally whenever possible to retain an accurate shape or pattern if the door is panelled.
2. For small adjustments in size, use a plane to shave the wood. Always start at the outside of any door edge and plane in towards the middle of the door thickness.
If you need to make a more substantial adjustment it is advisable to use a panel or circular saw.
Please be aware that circular saws are quite capable of (jamming) kicking back. It should be obvious, but isn't always, you should never place your hand anywhere near the side or the front of the circular saw blade.
Video showing how to fit hinges
3. If you intend to use the existing hinge recesses in the frame, the positions need to be marked on the door frame.
Position and support the door at an angle to the upright and mark on it where the tops and bottoms of the hinge recesses are for each hinge.
4. If you intend to use new hinges you will need to mark their positions on the frame and the door.
Exterior doors should be hinged between 125-150mm (5-6 inches) from the top and 175-230mm (7-9 inches) from the bottom of the door.
Exterior doors are heavier and require a third hinge in the middle of the door. If the door is made of hardwood then it is best to use brass hinges sized 100mm (4 inches), 125mm (5 inches) or 150mm (6 inches). This site sells hinges in single quantities to allow you to buy as many or as few as you require.
5. Care should be taken when chiselling out the recesses for the hinges, the best way is to (using a small saw) cut across the thickness of the door every 3/4" or 20mm and only to the position which your hinges will cover.
This action prevents the door from splitting beyond your hinge position.
Always make pilot holes when screwing into wood as this will prevent the wood from splitting.
To make the screws go in easier, rub the screw thread with a bar of soap.
Make sure that the hinges fit their recesses snugly.
6. Once the hinges are attached to the door, screw each hinge into position using one screw only.
Check that the door opens and closes properly before screwing in the remaining screws. If it does not, then unscrew and make minor adjustments to the position of the hinge, within the frame.
Repeat this procedure until the door position is correct.
Now view our other DIY info regarding fitting door locks etc or view our videos below.
Video showing how to fit a yale type lock
Video showing how to fit a mortice dead lock
A helpful printable guide to fitting external doors: