The Ultimate DIY Entry Door Check List

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 by Danny Peterson

Installing a front, entryway door is not an impossible task with the right approach. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive entry door checklist with everything you need to prepare yourself for the task.

First, though, let’s discuss the difference between “pre-hung” doors and other ones. A pre-hung door is an exterior door that is already mounted to a frame. The hinges and lockset are already installed and bored into it. These are by far the easiest doors to hang, though they are much pricier than everyday doors.


1: Gathering the Tools

First off, you need to make sure you have all of the tools you’ll need. Here is a list of tools and materials that are common for hanging entry doors, though different models and sizes can call for more:

  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Screwdrivers/Drills
  • Finishing Nails
  • Pry Bar
  • Foam or Fiberglass Insulation
  • Hammer
  • Wood Shims
  • Caulk and Caulking Gun
  • Reciprocating Saw

The screws may or may not come with a prefabricated door, though having a few extra on hand is a good way to avoid having to run back out to the hardware store.

2: Removing the Door

First off you should have the new door on hand before doing any “door extraction.” Remove the old door and the interior trim. Measure the depth of the door opening and the height and width. Newly installed doors should be about half an inch less in the vertical and almost a full inch skinnier. Make sure you have the handle on the correct side of the door (are you a righty or a lefty?) before moving onto the next step of the entry door checklist:

  • Remove the existing door’s trim carefully to re-install it in the new frame. Some already have pre-attached trim, which means this can be pitched.
  • Remove insulation around the old door.
  • With a hammer or screwdriver, remove any hinge pins to take the old door out of the frame.
  • After the door is off, unscrew the hinges.
  • Next, remove any nails, screws, or other components that are attached to the doorjamb or the sill. This may require a reciprocating saw.
  • Remove the old frame from the house — this may require some effort with a pry bar.

3: Installing the New Door

Once the old door is removed, have someone help you “dry-fit” the new door into the frame and measure it to make sure it fits properly. Make sure the subsill (the strip where the door rests on the bottom) is level and square. You can adjust the sill with shims.

While the frame is open, now is a good time to check the house frame for any mold or dry rot. Call in a professional for repairs if this is the case. Following is the rest of the entry door checklist:

  • Measure to see if the new door gets stuck in the bottom sill.
  • Apply caulk to the subsill for weatherproofing to “bed” the threshold.
  • From the exterior, raise the new frame into its place.
  • Insert shims until the doorframe is square and plumb in the entryway.
  • Put shims in the hinges to lock the door in place.
  • Screw in the hinges and shims to keep them in place.
  • Re-measure to make sure the spacing is equal on all sides.
  • Once the hinges are screwed in, make sure the door swings open and closes again without getting stuck on the subsill.
  • Secure the frame with additional shims.
  • Snap off excess shims and score them down.
  • Spray insulation into the frame’s gaps.
  • Once dried, trim off foam access.
  • Attach any trim that came unattached.
  • Paint if necessary and enjoy.

There you have it, an entry door checklist you can use on your next DIY project.