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How to Repair Doors

By: Editors of Consumer Guide & Walter Curtis

How to Hang an Interior Door

Image © Publications International, Ltd.

Hanging or installing a door isn't as difficult as it may seem. Replacing an existing door is easy if the new door core is the same size. Installing a door in a new partition wall is also very easy if you buy a prehung door so you don't have to build the door frame yourself. In fact, you probably can tackle this home improvement project in an hour or two if you have the necessary materials and tools ready.

Installing a Prehung Door

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Prehung doors are the easiest to install. These doors come already set in a frame, and one side of the frame has been trimmed with molding. Usually, the hardware has been installed, too, making the process even easier.

To buy a prehung door, you need to know the size of the rough door opening. There are approximately 3 inches at the side jambs and 11/2 inches at the head jamb for fitting purposes. To install a prehung door:

Step 1: Set door into rough opening and vertically level, or plumb, door jamb sides, filling any gaps at top and sides with cedar shingle shims.

Step 2: Nail head and side jambs to rough framing, using 16d finishing nails. Countersink nail heads into face of jambs with nail set. Fill holes with wood putty.

Step 3: Nail finished casing or molding to doorway with 10d finishing nails. Countersink nail heads, and fill with wood putty.

Step 4: Apply wood sealer to both sides of door and top, bottom, and side edges. Seal casing and door moldings, too.

Installing Folding Doors

If you need a door where there just isn't room for it to open, consider installing a folding door. A bifold door uses only half the space of a regular door. Bifold doors are available with two to eight panels; two panels fit a standard door opening. To install a bifold folding door:

Step 1: Measure the inside of the door opening. Subtract 1 ¼ inches for vertical clearance and ½ inch (or, for a four-panel door, ¾ inch) for horizontal clearance. Buy a door cut to fit this size opening; make sure the panels are already hinged together and the necessary pivots are included.

Step 2: Insert the top pivot bracket into the metal track that guides the door, as directed by the manufacturer. If you're installing a four-panel door, insert the second top pivot bracket into the other end of the track as directed. Set the track in position across the inside top of the door opening, with the edge of the track flush with the edges of the jambs. Mark the location for screw holes along the track and set it aside.

Step 3: Drill pilot holes for screws as directed by the manufacturer, and fasten the track into place. For a two-panel door, from the top pivot bracket at the corner of the opening where the door will fold together, drop a plumb bob from the center of the pivot bracket to the floor. Set the bottom pivot bracket on the floor at this point, so that the holes in the two brackets line up exactly. Mark the screw holes for the bottom pivot bracket. Drill pilot holes for the screw and screw the bracket into position on both the floor and door frame. For a four-panel door, install the second bottom pivot bracket tin the same way, aligning it exactly under the top pivot bracket at the other side of the door frame.

Step 4: Determine the position of the bottom pivot bracket or bracket as before, but don't attach them. If you're installing the door in a carpeted area, allow adequate clearance over the carpeting. Trace the outline of each bracket exactly on a block of scrap wood that is the same thickness as the carpeting. With a handsaw, cut the block of wood to the same size as the bracket. Cut out a similar size section of carpet, set the block in place and screw the bottom pivot bracket into the block and the door frame.

Step 5: Fold the door panels together. The pivot panel have pivot pins at top and bottom to fit into the pivot brackets; the guide panel has a wheel that moves along the track. Se the bottom pivot pin into place in the bottom pivot bracket and tilt the folded-together door into the door frame. Slide the top pivot bracket over the top of the bracket. Tilt the door slowly into position, sliding the top bracket back toward the pivot corner. Insert the guide wheel in the track as soon as the angle of the door allows. Open the door to bring it firmly upright. If you're installing a four-panel door, repeat this procedure to install the second pair of panels on the other side of the door frame.

Step 6: Test the door for proper operation. If it sticks or doesn't hang evenly, adjust it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 7: Attach doorknobs provided on both sides of the hinge joint. Mark and drill pilot screw holes, if necessary, then screw in the knobs with the screws provided. If you're installing a four-panel door, attach doorknobs to each set of panels. Close the door and attach the aligner plates provided to hold the panels firmly together.

Installing a Lockset

Once you've hung a new door, you need to fit it with a lockset.

Some doors come predrilled for standard-size locksets. Other doors require you to drill the holes yourself, using a template provided by the lock manufacturer. With any door, you need to cut mortises, or holes, in the door edge for the lockset and in the frame for the strike plate that engages the lock's bolt.

Here's how to install a lockset:

Step 1: Wrap the paper or cardboard template that comes with the new lockset around the edge of the door according to the manufacturer's instructions. If necessary, use tape to secure the template. The template will be used to locate two holes: one hole for lock cylinder and the other for edge of door for bolt. Mark the centers for these two holes on the door.

Step 2: Use a power drill with hole-saw attachment to drill the hole the size specified for the lock cylinder. Be careful not to damage the veneer on the opposite side of door. When you see the point of the drill coming through, stop and finish boring from the other side.

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Step 3: Drill a hole the appropriate size for the bolt into the edge of the door until you reach the cylinder hole. Use the combination square against the edge of the door and the drill bit to keep the bit at a right angle to the door. Smooth the edges of the holes with sandpaper.

Step 4: Insert the bolt into the hole, and place the bolt plate in position over it. Trace the bolt plate's outline on the edge of door. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to remove the bolt and mortise edge for the bolt plate so it will be flush with the surface.

Step 5: Use a chisel to cut the mortise. Insert the bolt and plate in the mortise, and drill the pilot holes for the mounting screws. Install the screws to secure the bolt in place.

Step 6: Insert the outside lock cylinder so the stems or connecting bar fits into the bolt assembly. Attach the interior lock cylinder, and secure it with the screws.

Insert the bolt assembly and trace its outline over the edge of the door; remove excess wood to mount the assembly.
Insert the bolt assembly and trace its outline over the edge of the door; remove excess wood to mount the assembly.
Image © Publications International, Ltd.

Step 7: Locate the proper spot for the strike plate on the jamb, and drill the proper-size hole in the jamb. Using the strike plate as a pattern, mark the jamb for mortising, and cut the mortise. Install the strike plate with screws so it fits flush with the jamb.

Now you know how to repair your doors if they are squeaking or sticking, and, if a door is giving you real problems, you know how to pull it out and install a completely new door.