Need To Replace Front Door, Existing Door Non-standard Size - Windows and Doors - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 07-17-2011, 12:20 PM   #1
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Need to replace front door, existing door non-standard size

Our front door is probably original (circa 1953) and the bottom quarter or so of both sides is splintered and warped, so we need to replace it.

The facade of the house is a mix of brick and HardiPlank, and we have a storm door. The threshold of the front door sits directly on a cement step. Looking at the trim inside and out, I am thinking that installing a pre-hung door would not be easy. I am afraid it would be a combination of masonry and carpentry work, and don't want to get halfway through it and call a masonry guy in a panic. I'm looking to do this inexpensively and myself if possible.

We went to Home Depot and found a solid unfinished Hemlock door for about $150. The wife wasn't happy with any of the pre-finished doors, and was willing to finish this one, so this seemed like just the ticket. I just have to figure out how to hang it. I'm comfortable with the light carpentry work for the hinges and knob/lock.

So here's the thing. The new door is the standard size of 80" x 36". Our existing door is 79 1/2" x 35 3/4". Actually, it is 79 1/2" on the outside face, and 79 3/4" on the inside face!

We have a 1" high aluminum threshold that looks like it was installed after the house was built. I think this was to accommodate some wall to wall carpet that was subsequently removed. So the inside bottom of the door has a 1/4" lip / edge that engages with the threshold. Hope that makes sense.

Rather than cut the bottom of the new door door, I thought I could switch to a 1/2" high threshold. The interior dimension of the frame is 80 1/2" so that should work (1/2" for the new threshold + 80" for the new door = 80 1/2").

However, the width of the existing door is 1/4" less than the standard 36" width of the new door. I can't quite figure this out. I measured carefully and the interior of the door frame is exactly 36" wide. There is metal weatherstripping on either side of the door frame. When the door is closed, there is about 1/8" of reveal on either side of the door, but the door is airtight because of the weatherstripping.

I took the old door off of the hinges and put the new door in its place, no hinges or anything, just to see if it fit. It did not quite fit, it was a bit too wide. The inside of the door frame is exactly 36" and the new door is exactly 36" wide. The weather stripping takes up a bit of space (even when compressed), and there are a few coats of paint too. So it looks to be about 1/8" or so too wide.

So, I am kind of at a loss for how to go about this. It seems difficult to try to shave 1/8" or 1/4" off of the side of the new door, and it doesn't seem like that should be necessary since I thought all front doors (even in 1953) were a standard size.

I could remove the weatherstripping and strip the paint from the inside of the door frame, and it might be a close fit. But it seems like some weatherstripping is needed for the front door, it gets a lot of sun in the afternoons and I'm sure it will expand and contract. I don't think it'd be a good idea to have the edge of the door in direct contact with the door frame (both painted), though I admit that I haven't looked at enough front doors to know. Is it standard/normal for a door frame to be say 36 1/4" wide to accommodate a 36" door plus room for weatherstripping? Maybe for some strange reason, my door frame is 36", requiring the door to be 1/4" smaller?

Can anyone offer any suggestions or advice? Thanks for reading!

Last edited by uncle; 07-17-2011 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:50 AM   #2
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The dimensions you give are close enough for a standard size door. You may need to trim the brick mold for a fit. Get a prehung door, it has the threshold, jambs, and weatherstripping already in place. Much simpler to install and more energy efficient that trying to add all those things separately.
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