Replacing a Door and Keeping the Frame | Brennan DFW
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Can You Replace a Door Without Replacing the Frame?

There are several reasons for replacing a door, including better appearance and curb appeal, increased security, or because the old door has become worn or otherwise damaged. The question then becomes, can you replace a door without replacing the frame? The answer is yes, you can. But perhaps a better question is, should you? And that answer depends on several factors.

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Can you replace a door without replacing the frame?

In many cases, you can replace a door without replacing the frame, as long as the frame is in good shape, and not warped or worn. If the door is not closing properly or there are gaps around the door that need to be insulated, you’ll want to determine if the fault is with the door or the frame.

In some cases, you will find that the frame also needs to be replaced. In others, you will find that you can simply replace the old door with a new one.

To understand this, it is important to understand the way doors are produced.

  • A door slab is essentially a pre-cut piece of wood in the shape and size of a door. Some will have windows or decorative elements, while others will simply be solid. They do not come with hardware attached, as you will either reuse your old door hardware or replace it with new hardware in the new slab.
  • A pre-hung door comes set into a frame. In this case, you replace the frame and the door at the same time. The hinges are already attached and in place, and there is a deadbolt and handle preparation (for exterior doors) and handle preparation for indoor doors.

To replace a door without replacing the frame, you will have to chisel out the cutouts for the hinges in the new door, based on the position of the hinges in the old door. The same is true for preparing the holes where you will install the deadbolt and the handle. This is so the door will hang the same way in the old frame as the original door did.

It’s a more complicated process when it comes to the door. With a pre-hung door, you will simply order a door to fit the size of the opening you have for both the door and the frame, and then you can simply remove the old frame and install the new one in its place.

This still means sizing and placing the frame, and ensuring it is secure and well-insulated. 

Can I replace my door frame and keep the same door slab?

Much like replacing a door without replacing the frame, the opposite can be done as well. You can install a new frame and keep your existing door slab. However, this is trickier than it seems. This is often a situation homeowners who have suffered a burglary face.

If only one leg of the door jamb is damaged, usually the side where the lock and doorknob engage, known as the strike side, you can actually just replace the damaged side. This is a little trickier than it seems at first, but it’s certainly not an impossible task. If you need help, often a professional contractor can help.

Replacing the entire frame is possible. Measuring carefully, choosing the right materials, and making precise cuts is vital to ensure that the frame will work with your existing door.

Similar also to replacing a door without replacing the frame, the real question is should you replace the frame and not the door itself? Again, the answer depends on several factors. The first step is to inspect both the frame and the door thoroughly. In most cases, both are the same or similar in age, so if the frame is worn, likely the door slab has also suffered some wear and tear.

What about replacing patio doors?

Much like front entry doors, you can also replace your patio doors and keep the frame, if it's still in good condition. The replacement process is a similar process and can be done with both hinged and sliding patio doors. In the case of the patio glass breaking, you can just get the glass panel replaced.

Signs your door frame needs to be replaced

The problem with door frames is that we see them every day, so often things gradually become an eyesore, but we often don’t see potential damage. Look for things like:

  • Deep Scratches
  • Dents
  • Warping
  • Condition of the wood, including wood rot

In some cases, the frame can be repaired, but in others, the damage can be something that is not reversible. Often the door you use most to enter and exit your home, which may be the door to the garage or the back door, not your front door, will experience the most wear and damage to your frame.

If your door frame will need extensive repairs or it is warped or the wood is damaged, replacing it at the same time you replace the door makes the most sense.

Signs your door slab needs to be replaced

Much like inspecting your door frame, you need to look closely at your door slab as well. Obvious deep scratches and dents are one thing, but you need to look more closely. Check for the fit of the knob and the deadbolt, if applicable. Make sure both fit securely and are not loose in the door fittings.

Check hinges and the locations where they are attached as well. Make sure they are not cracked, the wood is not broken near them, and they are tight, and none of the screw holes have become loose or stripped.

If the door is hanging incorrectly, check and see why. Sometimes these are issues that can be fixed with adjustments or new insulation, but if they cannot it is probably time to replace your door.

Benefits of replacing your entire door unit

Replacing your entire door unit with a pre-hung door has some clear advantages.

  • You start with new materials.
  • The two have been designed to fit together. No cutting new holes or making adjustments.
  • The door and the door frame will look good together, increasing the curb appeal of your home.
  • The fit will offer better security to protect you and your home.
  • You’ll start with a warranty in case anything goes wrong.

Can you replace your door without replacing the frame? You can, and you can also replace the door frame without replacing the door. But should you? Be sure to inspect your door and frame thoroughly. Think about how you will have to alter the appearance and fit of the new door to the existing frame and vice versa.

Finally, keep in mind that your door and the frame are likely the same age and have endured the same conditions. There may be hidden damage that isn’t readily visible, so replacing both at the same time is often the best course of action.

If you have questions, contact a local, licensed contractor for advice.

Ariana Martinez
Ariana Martinez
November 13, 2020
April 30, 2024


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