A pre-hung door can be a lifesaver if you’re looking to quickly slap up a door inside of your home and you aren’t too choosy what kind you end up with. The issue with this though, is that your doorway has to be the “standard size” and as already implied, you don’t get too much variety in what kind of door you end up with.
Say, for example, you’ve got a beautiful orange vintage door you want to hang; you’re going to have to install the jamb for that yourself. Granted that’s only one part of hanging a non-pre-hung door but despite the extra work that comes along with putting up that sexy orange door of yours, it really isn’t as hard as it may seem.
Make Sure the Rough Opening Is Square
Like the title says, make sure that the rough opening is square and that the jack studs are plumb (completely vertical). You can make up for a bit of crookedness if it’s off by less than ½ inches when you get around to putting in the door jamb, but it’s best to be as accurate as possible. If you’re anywhere over that ½ inch margin of error, the entire door is going to be crooked.
To be sure the jack studs are straight, measure the width of the top and bottom of the doorway and check with a string to compare the distances between each diagonal corner. If they have a difference larger than that magical ½ inch margin of error, the frame needs to be adjusted.
How to Prep and Install the Jamb
It’s an optional step, granted, but you can assemble the jamb before installing it if you want. Before piecing it together, rout the mortises for the hinges and cut rabbets into the top of each side jamb in order to carve out a spot for the top jamb. Once done, use 1-½ inch wood nails so that the assembled door jamb holds its shape.
After you’ve put the jamb together and are ready to install it, you’ll need to make sure that it is both plumbed and squared. Regardless of how accurately squared the jamb is, it’s still in your best interest to place shims behind each piece of it to ensure they’re level. When you nail the jamb to the frame, you should place them (the nails) through the shims. After the jamb has been installed, it should be around ½ inches wider and ¾ inches higher than the actual door to make sure that it opens and closes smoothly.
How to Install the Door
The first thing you’ve got to do to properly install the door is to put in the stop which is that strip of wood in the middle of the jamb that the door closes against. You can add the stop by measuring it out and drawing a line where it should go, but it’s honestly easier to add the stop while the door is closed.
This means that you’ll need to install the knob first if you decide to do it this way though. Take care not to use nails that are too big for the jamb, 6d nails are more than sufficient to get the job done. Once you install the stop, you can put in the door trim, paint (if you need to) and you’ve got your new non-pre-hung door!
While installing a non-pre-hung door can be a little more labor-intensive, it’s still worth it to know how to do this. It gives you more in the way of variety and sometimes, it’s nice to do things the old-fashioned way. If you prefer hanging doors this way, let us know why. What makes this method better for you? We’d like to know in the comments!