Replacing hollow doors with 6 panel
I'm planning on replacing my existing hollow core doors with solid 6 panel doors. My question is two fold:
1. Am I better off buying pre hung doors or just the door itself and hang it in the existing opening?
2. If I use the existing opening, can I reuse the hinges from the hollow doors or will they not be strong enough or in the correct location for the solid doors?
A lot depends on how handy you are and the condition of the existing frames.
If the jambs and trim are in good condition, and worth saving, there is no reason you cannot hang new doors in them. Replacing the entire unit may open up a lot of issues; like making the new frames fit the cuts on the existing baseboards, problems with old paint/caulk lines on the walls, wood or tile flooring that may have been installed after the existing doors, etc.
The existing hinges are "strong" enough, but you may want to replace them for asthetics, and add a third hinge (not absolutely required for a 6'8" door).
In either case remove the hinges from the jamb, drill a 3/16" clearance hole through the jamb under each hinge (staying clear of existing screw holes), and countersink it to receive the head of a drywall screw, then install a screw long enough to reach into the stud beyond the jamb. Tighten just enough to make contact, as you do not want to pull the jamb over, it is just to add support in case the hollow doors are only supported by the nails in the trim, as is pretty common.
The location of existing hinges is not important, as you are matching the hinge locations as well as the lockset bore, onto the new blanks. These are marked after dry fitting the new blank in the frame, in case the top reveal of the new door needs to be tweaked to make up for an out of square condition.
If you are doing a housefull of doors and don't have a router, it is well worth the $ to buy, along with the $30 Porter Cable hinge template and bit. The little inexpensive Ryobi trim router (Home Depot) will be sufficient for this task, but if you plan on other work, invest a few $ more for something more substantial and versitile.
Its normally cheaper to replace just the doors if your frames are in good shape, but price it both ways just for scale.
The hinges from the old doors should be fine but are not expensive to replace if they are dated looking.
You'll normally end up with blank new doors unless you do a custom door order so lock and hinge preps will need to be cut in.
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