The hinge cut on the the new door must be exact. Also if the door is pre- mortised you might have issues with the locks lining up.
As a repairman this is something I do fairly often. My suggestion is to take your current door to your local lumber yard (or who ever sells doors in your area) and have them match all the cuts and chamfer.
You should be able to just swap them out; it’s extremely likely you have a standard exterior door. Just thoroughly measure your door first.
Make sure you measure from the top and bottom of the door to the hinges. Standard measurement for a majority of the USA (I’m just assuming you’re in the USA) is 5" from the top edge of the door to the top of the top hinge, 10" from the bottom edge to the bottom of the bottom hinge, and the middle hinge dead center between the other two hinges. In some western states the standard is 7" from the top and 11" from the bottom.
A new door will definitely fit in the old opening. The difficulty will be that the hinge, latch, and deadbolt cutouts may not exactly match your door. The hardest thing to match is the hinge cutouts. If the latch and deadbolts don’t line up, it is relatively easy to cut the holes in the jam to line up.
As for the hinges, you’ll want to make sure the cutouts in the new and old doors exactly line up. In the best case scenario the hinges exactly match and are exactly the right distance. You you can:
Remove the hinge pins from the old door. The hinge pin goes down through the top of the hinge and holds both sides together. There is a small hole in the bottom of the hinge which you can tap a nail or small screwdriver to lift the hinge pin up a bit and then grab the top with your fingers or pliers to remove the hinge pin completely. You’ll want the door open when you remove the hinge pins.
Remove all three hinge pins. Have someone to help you hold the door while you’re removing the pins. Once the pins are out, you should be able to remove the door from the jam. One half of the hinge will be in the jam and the other on the door.
Remove the new door from the jam hinges the same way. A new door typically comes with a complete jam around it.
Line up the hinges of the new door with the old jam and insert the hinge pins.
There’s a chance the hinge plates themselves of the old door and new door won’t mesh. They interlock and if they are made differently, they won’t line up. If this is the case, you’ll need to unscrew the hinge plate from the new jam and install it in the old jam.
IF THE HINGE CUTOUTS DON’T MATCH UP IN THE DOORS consider getting a handyman to install the door. It can be a bit challenging to properly cut out the space for the hinge plate in the door. If you aren’t experienced with woodworking, it’s likely it will take you many tries to get it right and you’ll ruin the door in the process. The task itself isn’t difficult, but it takes some skill and practice to do it right.
Whatever you do, don’t try to cut the jam for new hinges. If you mess up the jam, it’s a lot of work and mess to replace it. It’s much better to mess up a door then mess up the jam.
[In case you’re not aware, the ‘door jam’ is the wood around the door that’s attached to the house.]
I am now looking at this door for the first time, and to be honest, I now realize how little I know about doors!
This may not be the best time of the year to try something like this on my own, since it is cold here. I’d hate to screw something up and have the house open for a long period of time.
If I can get an exact match of the door, the ideal would be that the hinges would be in the same location, and the deadbolt and door latch would also line up correctly. If they don’t, I may be out of my depth for a January home project.
Can you tell me what a standard door has screwed into the bottom? There appears to be some weatherstripping that is connected to the bottom of the door (and screwed up into the bottom of the door to secure it, although I don’t know for sure since I have never seen the bottom of this door, and I cannot see anything when I lay doen on the floor. There is just not enough clearance.)
I think a trip to the local home store is in order for me… If I could, it might be easier to refurbish this door (if that is even possible). That would remove any concerns I would have about hinges and lock holes lining up. I just hate this door, and I think it looks ugly, so if I could pop it out and replace it, that would be my preference.
If not, I will probably have to hire someone. I don’t have a lot of experience working with wood, and I have zero experience working on exterior front doors.
There are a few different kinds of door bottoms. Here are a few at Home Depot.
Take detailed pictures and measurements of your door and see if the local hardware stores have an exact match. Check the hinge location, shape (square or round corners), latch locations and weatherstrip type. If you can’t find an exact match, it’s probably best to wait for better weather or hire a pro. There are a few details which have to be done correctly or else you’ll have gaps or the door might not close properly.
It’s a good idea to look into the cost of having an all new door and frame installed. If you can find a new door that’s an exact match for your old one then replacing just the door will be easy. But if anything is a little off you could have a nightmare to deal with.
How old is your house, and how old is the current door? Older houses can have very different sizes of door, not just height and with, but also thickness in the doorframe. I replaced my front door last month. House was built in 1929. It was a very specialistisc job, i paid a professional 2500 euro’s for the door itself, made to size, and placing it. That is relatively cheap.
There are also services where you keep the door, they just remodel your existing door, like they do with kitchen doors. If it is just the look you want to change, that may be an easy alternative.
I guess im the minority that says to get a pre hung door. You can get a door to fit your jam, yes. But it can create a headache too. Esp with settling. A pre hung door will seal tight no matter what. YMMV. My .02.
Something to think about is what direction your door faces. We got a black door that faces west and takes a beating from the sun in the summertime. So much so, that it actually warps the door, but then will return to normal in other conditions.
Also, consider getting a door with 2 or 3 locks to help seal tight in the summertime in case it warps. I know pella windows recommends this in extreme heat
Lay a thin mirror flat on the floor, and open the door over it. That should let you see what’s on the bottom of the door. You may still need a flashlight to show it.
Otherwise, take out the 3 hinge pins, lay the door on sawhorses or something, and you can look at & photograph the bottom. Then you can put it back in place.
Hint: keep track of which hinge pin goes in the top, middle, & bottom hinges. On old doors, they often have warped a bit over the years(house settling, etc.). Putting them back in the wrong places may cause problems in opening/closing the door.
Also, if the only problem you have with this door is that you don’t like the appearance,
then I would agree that winter is NOT the time to work on this. Just live with it as is for 6 months.
I have never heard of swapping out just the door. I think you would have to be extremely lucky for everything to line up perfectly and close snugly, pre-fab or not.
I have replaced 3 or 4 exterior doors over the years; I wouldn’t even consider attempting this shortcut.
ETA: Although, on further consideration, if it doesn’t work you have lost nothing since you would still have - and could use - the jam that came with the new door.
This is a relatively easy job for an experienced carpenter, but a homeowner who has never done it before might have a devil of time doing it right. I’d suggest hiring someone who knows what he’s doing. Have him take the measurements and do the install so there is no finger pointing.
Installing a pre-hung door will mean removing the surrounding molding on the inside and outside of the door. That’s definitely not a job for a novice. Not only do you have to hang the door correctly, you’ll need to install, caulk, and paint new molding. But if you hire a pro, you may get better results with the pre-hung. They may be able to redo all the molding easier than fitting a new door to the old jam.
And unless you do it perfectly, or use larger trim, there’s a good chance you’ll need to paint both the interior and exterior walls, as well. You can touch-up paint if it’s not too old, but after a few years it’ll never match right.