Home ProjectsExterior How to Install an Exterior Pre-hung Door

How to Install an Exterior Pre-hung Door

by Haylie

Have you ever started a DIY project and then realized that the way you were going to approach it was definitely not going to work and then had to totally regroup and start over? That is how we learned to install an exterior pre-hung door.

We have big plans for our workshop. If you missed our plan and inspiration post, you can get a grasp of the full master plan here. Originally, we had no plans to replace the door or the windows in an effort to save some money. We were just going to paint them and move on to the bigger, more demanding projects. Well, things didn’t actually go as planned. We got as far as taping the windows and our plans changed. I actually really liked our old door. It was solid wood and had a farmhouse feel to it. We started to prep to paint it and realized that parts of it were starting to separate and the molding that held the glass in was rotting… it was going to take a lot more love than we had planned for. So we took a step back and re-assessed the important features we were looking for in this workspace. One of the biggest features was thermal insulation. We had plans to insulate all the walls but what good does that do if the doors and windows aren’t insulated? So for a little more money and a little more effort we decided to upgrade our door to an insulated exterior door.


  • New pre-hung door
  • Drill, bits and screws
  • Wood shims
  • Pry bar
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Foam insulation
  • Rubber mallet
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Hand saw w/ metal blade
  • Caulk
  • Cement glue

Before you get started its pretty important that you have your new door and that you are confident that it will fit in the existing space. To measure for the new door remove any trim around the door. Measure the height from the floor to the top of the door jamb, the width and the depth of the door jamb as well. You also should make note of which direction the door opens, from the left or right. We took these measurements to Lowe’s and with the help of their customer service we were able to find the correct door in the style that we wanted that fit our opening.  Most manufactured doors come with a set of installation instructions and a suggested list of tools.

With our new door anxiously waiting… (or not because it is inanimate and can’t feel) we removed the old door and hinges and set it aside.  We used a screw driver to scrape the foam insulation out from around the frame.

We then used a pry bar to pop out the nails securing the door frame into the jamb. For some of the nails we had to use a hand saw with a metal blade to cut the nails. A reciprocating saw would be much more efficient if you have a lot of nails that need to be cut.

Once we were certain that all the nails had been cut or removed we used a rubber mallet to hammer out the snug fitting door frame. Once the frame was out we cleaned up the door jamb in preparation for the new door.One of the differences between our old door and our new one was that there was no weather-stripping or sill on our old door. So we got a door with a sill in an effort to keep the bugs and weather out. Typically speaking a door with a sill like this should require a specific set of instructions for preparing the door opening where the sill would be placed. In our case the cement in our carport extended into the workshop and we would be installing the sill directly onto the cement. Check the manufacturers instructions before installing your new door to ensure proper installation.

We inserted the door into the space for a dry fitting to ensure that it would fit properly and to note any adjustments needed to make it plum and level.

We added a bead of cement glue to the bottom of the sill and put the bottom in place in the rough opening. With one of us inside and one outside, Cole pushed the door up into place while I (inside) placed shims in between the jamb and the rough opening to temporarily hold it in place. We ensured that the door opened properly, adjusted the shims at the top and bottom of both sides of the door and used a level to ensure that it was in fact level. We also confirmed that the space between the door jamb and the rough opening was mostly consistent all the way around. Once it was level, we nailed the door in place through the jamb into the studs and screwed through the shims at each door hinge for added support.
 We also added shims at the door knob and dead lock for added support. We screwed through the shims when reattaching the lock and latch plates onto the door jamb.Next, we scored both sides of the wood shims and broke them off at the door jamb.  With our door secured and in place we reattached the door knob and lock. We made sure that the door opens and closes easily and that the lock works.  If you run into issues where the door does not open and close easily that probably means that your door is not level or that the sill area was not level. If you cannot get your door to latch or lock, be sure that the hole and the lock or latch match up; if not you can drill out the hole a bit to fix this issue. Last but not least we used foam insulation to fill the gaps between the jamb and the rough opening. Once it expanded we scraped off the excess and we were done.

We eventually will be painting the door black, inside and out. White doesn’t stay white for too long with a mechanic around.

This was just the first step to our workshop overhaul. Don’t forget to check out the game plan and to follow our progress on Instagram. Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for our workshop. We’ve got a big project ahead of us and we can’t wait to share the process with you!



Choice Furniture Superstore October 27, 2017 - 1:32 am

This is awesome. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing this post.

Haylie October 30, 2017 - 3:17 pm

Thanks so much! Thanks for reading!


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