Has anyone ever told you that hanging "pre-hung" doors can drive you insane?

Let’s get a few things out of the way… I’m not afraid to tear up my house and try to do light construction work in regards to DIY home projects. I’m also very cheap. Our house doesn’t have a basement, so the washer and dryer are off the kitchen in a closet. The furnace and water heater are in another closet off the kitchen. Each had double bi-fold doors that were nothing but larger shutter looking things with louvers. So any noise from either closet would bounce around the house. The washer and dryer aren’t so bad (we got the front-loading Whirpool Duet line – very quiet), but the A/C unit and furnace were very loud. So the plan is to install double solid doors for each closet.

Where the previous doors were hung, there wasn’t a door frame, just the slider across the top. So I had to install a door frame too. I saw at Lowe’s that they had sets of double prehung doors. Sweet. And the openings to the closets are standard sizes. Double sweet. Right?


Hanging these things is an absolute chore. The closet openings are slightly lower than the standard size (they’re 80.5") so I had to take a little bit off the bottoms of each side of the first closet, which had me disassembling the door system so I can get it on my mitre saw. It took a couple days lots of patience to put the first set in. Level, shim, level, shim, level, shim, level, shim – wait, it’s all level, why are the f’ing doors crooked!!! Level, shim, level, shim… ok, they’re looking good now. I’ve got the first set 90% hung (still have to tack down the top of the door frame) and I’m so beaten by it.

Sometimes I hate being a complete novice at things.

Nobody had to. I figured it out for myself.

Yeah, I just hung a door in the basement of my 1955 house. The door frame is crooked, so I had to cut the door at an angle. The frame width is nonstandard. The floor is uneven. The frame DEPTH is nonstandard.

Every possible dimension, I had to make some sort of adjustment. It took me days of misery.

Curious about the strange variety of doors in my 1940 house (some solid, some hollow, knobs at varying heights, various hinge styles), I thought it would be a fun improvement project to make everything match.

Until I measured…

Every damn door and frame in my house is unique, all with different heights, depths, widths and hardware. I’m convinced that the original builder first erected a dozen leftover orphaned doors on an empty lot, and then built a house around them.

So I went to the local “The Door Store” that does custom work and showed them what I had…they literally did not believe some of my measurements and insisted that I “–could not possibly have doors like that.”

Installing un-prehung doors is not any easier, though. That’s why the hippies hung beads.

Dudley, I’d confirm this with your local building department but the bifold doors are there for a reason- the furnace closet needs a certain minimum volume of combustion air around it for the safe and proper combustion of fuel. Without enough air, which is currently being provided by the louvers, you’ll seriously f-up the furnace and you may put yourself in danger of carbon monoxide poisioning.

Our local building code requires 50 cubic feet of air volume for every 1,000 BTU’s of input rating of the appliance. You determine the cubic volume of the room in which the furnace is situated by multiplying the WxLxH of the space and the appliance will tell you the input rating.

Your local code will be determinative, but please don’t replace those doors without checking it first.

There is an exception here- direct vent appliances, which obtain all their combustion air directly from the outdoors. If you’re not sure you have this type, I’d suspend your project until you check the code.

Yeah, I actually put in 2 20x20" vents in the closet on the side wall, facing away from the main living area. Basically by installing the two solid doors, I’m more or less redirecting the ventilation/noise so the acoustics don’t carry as much.

Same thing for me in a 1917 house. The first door had to be cut down 1/2 inch to fit, and casing went from 5 to 4 inches on just one side. I had to rent a belt sander to get the second one to fit.

The third one fit perfectly. (Was it the opening, or was I getting better?)

Putting in prehung doors is easy. Your problem is you’re not ordering a custom size door so you’re modifying it. Don’t blame something for being what it is and not what you should have gotten.

Prehungs are fine but bifolds I hate hate hate doing. More specifically the floor to ceiling types in modern buildings; they never come out to my level of exactness.

Hey, I could have made that post. EVERY door I tried replacing in my mid-century house in suburban Cleveland seemed off in some way.

“They made houses better in the good 'ol days”. Yeah, right. They also made them without using levels or angles.

You have my sympathy. We hung three doors in our basement when we finished it. It was a nightmare. Three hours per door. I blame my husband. He built the walls in the first place. And he doesn’t watch This Old House with me.

Hanging doors is worse than mudding and taping drywall.

Oh. they used levels and angles, to be sure. Lots of different ones!

Problem is that you can’t count on newer construction to behave well either. My house is under 20 years old, and a standard pre-hung jamb is 3/4" thinner than the wall. My neighbor spent an extra $350 on custom millwork to get a 5-foot slider built with the hopes they could just plug it into place and be done. Even then, it needed finagling on the installation. I saved the $350 and bought a stock french door unit for about $400 and ripped some “1-by” stock to fill it out. With some liberal use of polyurethane caulk to glue it in place and seal all the edges, it looks like it was meant to be that way.

Unfortunately, all the caulk in the world wouldn’t fix the hole in the wall being out of square, and the floor not being flat. Molding fixed the non-squareness, but there’s a distinct curve where the wood floor meets the door’s threshold.