How to install a reclaimed door

comparison of a mortise lock and a tubular lock

Now that you have successfully purchased a reclaimed door, here comes the fun part – installation! Installing a reclaimed door is different than a brand new door. Reclaimed doors have charm with their older style and were often built specially by a craftsman.

There are two ways to replace a door. You can either replace the door, or you can replace the door and the jamb. The jamb is the frame that connects the door with your wall. If you live in an older home and fall in love with an older door, the easiest way to install the door might be to replace the jamb. If you live in a newer home and select a newer door, you might be able to simply replace the door. It all depends on the sizing of the door and jamb. For installation, it’s best to have two people when replacing a door.

Before you start:

  • Hardware Handles, knobs, and escutcheon plates are a great way to further customize your new door, and they vary in style just like doors. Are you keeping your original doors hardware or replacing it with new-to-you hardware? If you are keeping the original hardware, make sure it aligns with the holes and placement of the new door. Newer doors often have a tubular handle mechanism while older doors commonly have a mortise. A mortise knob set requires a pocket (aka a mortise) cut into the side of the door, making it very secure but also more involved to change. A tubular knob set uses a more modern mechanism with a simple standard hole that most newer styles of knob can be swapped in and out of.
    • Hinges – It may be that the hinge placement on your newly purchased door won’t align with the hinge placement on your door jamb. If they do align, you’re lucky! If they don’t align you will have to chisel the new hinge area so that the hinge can be flush with the door and jamb and drill new holes for your hinges. This guide walks you through this process as well as gapping issues.
    • Jamb – When replacing a door, you’ll need to ensure it fits with the jamb. You can do this by measuring your old door and your new door. Are the measurements exact? You’re in luck! If not, read the sections on sizing and gapping below.
    • Sizing – If the door is too small you’ll need to install a new jamb, if it’s too large you might be able to cut it down. Avoid cutting a hollow core door since they are hollow on the inside. It’s best to cut a solid door. You can tell a hollow core door by its weight, it’s much lighter than a solid wood door. Check out this easy way to cut a door. 
    • Gapping – It might be that your new door has a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. You want a small gap, so that the door can easily open and close, but a big gap will look silly and won’t close properly. A gap on the side means you’ll need to choose a different door or replace the jamb. To fix gaping above or below the door, you can choose a new door, remove the frame, or close the gap. To close the gap use some wood glue to attach your desired piece of wood to the area you want to fill. It might be that your new door isn’t wide enough, or maybe it isn’t tall enough. Once the glue is dry you can sand and repaint the door so the new wood blends in. Steps to Replacing a Door:
      1. Remove the door – Pull the hinge pins from the door hinges and remove the door.
      2. Hardware – If you’re changing hardware from the old door to the new, now is the time to do it. Change out the hinges and door handle mechanism.
      3. Install the new door – With a helper, align the new door with the hinges on the jam. Slide in the pins and swing the door open and closed to ensure it swings freely.

      Steps to replace a door and jamb:

      1. Ensure the door and jamb fit together – Before you start this process, ensure that your door and jamb fit together perfectly and that your new hardware is properly installed. This will ensure that the door will be a good fit when the new jam is installed.
      2. Remove Door – To make the process easier, first remove the door by pulling the hinge pins. This will give you easy access to the door jam and the surrounding trim.
      3. Free the jamb – Next, remove the trim that surrounds the jam to give you access to the studs that hold the jam in place. If you are unsure how to remove trim safely check out this handy guide
      4. Remove the jamb – It might be that your jamb can be easily removed, but it’s likely you’ll have to cut it out. With a sawzall, insert the blade between the jam and the framing and run the saw straight down to cut fasteners, such as nails or screws. Repeat on all 4 sides. If you’re brave, check out this neat trick on how to get the door and jamb out at once
      5. Install the new jam – Your new jamb will be installed in the hole you’ve created. It’s normal to have to adjust the hole, either by adjusting framing to make the hole larger, or adding shims to make it smaller. This work should be done by a professional, as the framing of your house is an important component of your home’s structure. It might be that this step requires sheetrock work, each home is different! Install the new door to test out swing and fit. It should fit perfectly and can be easily removed for trim installation.
      6. Finishing & Trim – After your new frame is safely and correctly installed, you’ll want to put the trim back on. This is also the time to do any paint touch-up work.
      7. Install the door. With a helper, align the new door with the hinges on the jam. Slide in the pins and swing the door open and closed to ensure it swings freely.

      Congratulations on your door and jamb install! If your old door is still in great condition you can donate it to The RE Store. If it’s at the end of its life, consider re-purposing it as a wall, table, desk, or check out the recycling resources section of our website to find out the best place to recycle or dispose of it.  If you have any questions please ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff – they’re always happy to help.