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