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Install or Replace Interior Doors

Improve the look of your home by replacing your old, worn-out or damaged interior doors. Here's how to install interior doors.

Interior Door Types

Blank Door.

If your doorframe is damaged, you need a pre-hung door, which includes the frame and door. If your frame is in good shape, a slab, also called a blank door (image to the right), is fine. Whichever type you use, there are a variety of styles available to match your home decor.

If you're installing a pre-hung door, make sure you get the correct swing, determined by the placement of the hinges and doorknob. Open the door and stand with your back to the hinges. If the doorknob is on the left, you need a left-handed door. If the knob is to the right, select a right-handed door. Some blank doors have a specific swing direction. The strike side (the side with the lockset) of these doors has a beveled edge so the door can swing freely.

The steps below describe installation of a blank door.

Good to Know

When buying a new door, choose one that's the same size as the old one.

Removing the Old Door

Step 1

Making Reference Marks on the Door.

You can use your old door as a template to install the new one. Before removing the old door, close it and make marks 10 inches up from the floor. You'll use these as reference marks later to trim the new door.

Good to Know

Purchase hinges that are the same size as your existing hinges.

Step 2

Removing the Hinge Pins.

Remove the old lockset and hinge pins, and take out the door. Remove the hinge plates from the door as well.

Good to Know

You can use a flathead screwdriver and a hammer to tap up the hinge pins for removal.

Marking and Trimming the New Door

Step 1

Clamping the Old Door to the New Door.

With the new door on sawhorses, set the old door on top — keeping the tops and hinge sides flush — and clamp in place. Mark any excess on the new door. You'll trim it off later.

Step 2

Marking the Mortise Locations.

Use a combination square to mark the locations of the hinge mortises on the new door.

Step 3

Marking the Distance from the Mortise to the Door Edge.

Use the square to transfer the distance of the mortises from the door edge.

Step 4

Marking the Mortise Depth.

Mark the mortise depths using a hinge as a guide.

Step 5

Marking the Lockset Location.

Mark the lockset location.

Step 6

Tranfering the Reference Mark.

Transfer the 10-inch reference marks you made above from the old door to the new one. Set the old door aside.

Step 7

Marking the New Door for Clearance.

From these reference marks on the new door, measure 9-7/8 inches toward the bottom and make a straight line across the door. This line shows you where to cut for a 1/8-inch clearance at the bottom of the door,

Step 8

Using a Planer to Cut Away the Excess Material.

Cut any excess from the sides and bottom of the new door with a saw or planer. Check the door manufacturer's instructions for cutting recommendations.

Good to Know

When cutting, remember the strike side of the door may be beveled — don't cut the beveled edge.

Attaching the Door Hardware

Door hinges may be rounded or square. If your hinges are rounded, you can use a router with a hinge template to cut mortises. If your hinges are square, you can cut the mortises with a chisel, using the steps below.

Step 1

Scoring the Mortise Outlines.

Score the mortise lines you made in Steps 2 and 3 above with a utility knife.

Step 2

Making Relief Cuts for the Mortises.

Use a chisel and hammer to outline the edges of each mortise and make relief cuts across the area. Don't go deeper than the mark you made in Step 4 above.

Step 3

Chiseling Out the Mortise.

Chisel out the wood inside the marks. Keep the beveled side of the blade down to remove only small amounts of material.

Watch our DIY Basics video: How Do I Use a Chisel?

Step 4

Attaching the Door Hinge.

At each mortise, hold the hinge in place. Drill pilot holes and attach the hinge with screws.

See How to Drill a Pilot Hole to learn about pilot holes.

Step 5

Drilling the Hole for the Lockset.

Drill the lockset holes according to the hardware instructions. Cut only halfway through one side of the door. Flip the door over and finish the holes from the other side. This technique helps prevents splintering.

Good to Know

A door lock installation kit or drill guide (pictured above) simplifies lockset installation.

Step 6

Drilling the Edge Bore for the Latch.

Drill the edge-bore hole for the latch with a 1-inch hole saw.

Step 7

Painting the Door.

If you plan to paint the door, it's a good idea to do it now.

Step 8

Checking the Fit for the Hinge Plate.

On the jamb, install the new hinge plates. Check the fit of a plate by holding it in a mortise. It should be flush with the casing.

Good to Know

If the holes on your new hinge plates don't match the holes in the screw holes in the door jamb, drill pilot holes for the new screws. If the holes in the jamb are too large for the screws, use wood glue to secure a short portion of dowel tightly in the hole. Allow the glue to cure and drill the pilot holes. As an alternative, you can use longer screws to fasten the hinge plate — just make sure the pilot holes will accommodate them.

Step 9

Placing a Cardboard Shim for the Hinge Plate.

If a mortise isn't deep enough, remove some wood with a chisel. Remember to keep the beveled side of the chisel against the wood to remove small amounts of material. If a mortise is too deep, use cardboard as a shim behind the hinge plate (as pictured to the right). Once you have a good fit, attach the hinge plates with screws.

Step 10

Attaching the New Strike Plate.

Attach the new strike plate if you're not using the old one.

Installing the Door

Step 1

Set the door in the hinges. Use wood shims on the floor to elevate the door if necessary.

Step 2

Inserting a Door Hinge Pin.

Insert the hinge pins. You can use a hammer to tap the hinge pins flush if necessary.

Good to Know

If you have trouble getting the hinges to line up, loosen all the screws. The excess play will help the hinges slide together. Insert the pins and retighten the screws.

Step 3

Test the door by working it back and forth. You should have about 1/8 inch clearance at the header and strike sides, and 1/16 inch clearance along the hinge side. Remove the door to make any adjustments.

Step 4

Installing the Lockset.

Install the lockset or door knob according to the directions. Look at to How to Install a Lockset for general steps.

Step 5

Test the door to make sure it fits and swings freely.

Watch our DIY Basics video: What's Wrong with My Door?