Door Installation: Do It Yourself or Hire Someone?

Now that the moving part is over, it's time to look into sprucing up your home with some home improvement projects. Replacing instantly enhances the appeal of any home and can be a relatively easy project. If you've always wondered how to go about replacing your doors, both interior and exterior, here is a primer on how to get it done right!

Do You Need a Pro?

Generally, if you have basic carpentry skills you can replace both interior and exterior doors yourself.

It can be a great weekend project for do-it-yourselfers, but keep in mind that a professional can make quick work of such a job, and in many cases it might be the wisest choice to ensure it's done properly. And as we always counsel: How much is your time worth?

Also, if you are not comfortable working with power tools or don't have basic home improvement skills, you might want to hire a professional to do it.

Ask for an installation recommendation at the store where you purchase the door; it's generally the fastest way to find someone qualified. Many home improvement stores have already contracted with licensed professionals to provide these services for you. (Make sure you are clear on the additional cost for having the doors installed, and not just delivered.)

Or contact local home improvement contractors; these folks will likely take on this kind of project, and might be able to find you a cheaper price on your door than you can through a retailer. As with all construction professionals, be sure to check out credentials for anyone performing work on your home.

Still want to do it yourself? Here's how.

Interior Doors:

If you have decided you have the skills required to install your own doors, here are step by step instructions to guide you through the process.

1. Remove the old door by sliding the pins out and lifting the door free. Be sure to have someone hold the door as you remove the pins.

2. Remove the hinges from the door. If they are in good condition, set them aside to be used on the new door.

3. Lay out the old door as a pattern, and place the new door directly on top of the old door. Using the old door as a guideline, trim the bottom of the door if necessary to make sure it is the same height as the old one. Use a fine tooth saw to trim the door.

4. Now you will need to create mortises in the new door -- mortises are the area on the edge of the door that is carved out to allow the hinge to lie flat. Using the old door as a pattern, mark the new door where the hinge mortises should go. Now use the actual old hinge to outline the exact placement of the mortise.

5. Using a very sharp wood chisel, score the outline of the mortise to a depth equal to that of the hinge. Chisel away the excess wood, and use the door hinge to check for proper depth. Once the proper depth is achieved, reattach the door hinge with wood screws.

6. Install the knob using the template and instructions that come with it. Use the same mortising technique described above to install a new strike plate, if needed.

7. Hang the door and replace the pins. Check for proper fit, and trim the door further if necessary.

Exterior Doors:

The procedure for installing an exterior door is virtually the same for an interior door with a few exceptions.

First, you may want to install a deadbolt and a peephole for security purposes. Both of those options will come with detailed instructions for installation; you can purchase either at any home improvement store. Second, make sure a new exterior wood door is properly painted, stained or sealed to prevent moisture damage and warping.

Kathy Woodard is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for Visit her for more home and garden ideas at and