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Can You Replace A Door Without Replacing The Frame? How To Guide

Replacing a door without replacing the frame is possible with both exterior and interior doors. They have similar processes with a few slight variances. In both cases, replacing the door is not a difficult as you may think. If you’re a homeowner and want to replace an old door but keep the old frame, that's quite possible.

For interior doors, you can remove the pre-hung door while keeping the existing door jambs. The steps for removing both exterior and interior doors are almost identical, so once you’ve successfully removed an entire door, you can easily do the rest. 

Replacing a door without replacing the frame may seem complicated, but there are ways to achieve this on your own. The “pre-hung” door or "door slab", which refers to the door you are replacing, comes with a built-in door frame that is customized to the frame. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch it out to get a new look or replace a broken door. You can even do the opposite, replacing the existing frame with a new frame and keeping the door slab. 

Below are some tips on how to properly replace an old door without touching the door frame

What Is A Door Frame?

door with frame

The door frame is the structure that supports the door while open or shut. There are a few different parts of the frame, which include the sill, jamb, and head. 

The door sill is located at the bottom of an exterior door frame. It’s usually metal and keeps air and water from coming into the home. The door jamb refers to the posts on both sides of the door, holding the frame vertically. These posts are on interior and exterior door frames. 

The head is exactly how it sounds: it’s the top of the door frame. It usually is metal or is outlined with trim.

How To Remove a Door Without Replacing The Door Frame 

installing door without changing door frame

Steps For An Interior Door

  1. To start, remove the hinge pins and carefully remove the door from the frame. 
  2. With your new door close by, put them side by side for comparison.
  3. Make any necessary adjustments, such as marking down where the hinge will go on the new door.
  4. If needed, trim the new door down to the correct size. If not, move onto the next step. 
  5. Carefully mortise the new door to create a space for the hinge plate.
  6. Add one side of the hinge plate to the door and another to the frame.
  7. Using hinge pins, secure the replacement door to the hinge plates.

Steps For An Exterior Door

  1. You may use the above instructions for an exterior door replacement, although there may be specific differences to take note of, such as a double entry door or other types of front doors or patio doors. If that’s the case for you, all you have to do is double these instructions. 
  2. Remove the current door and place it on top of the new door.
  3. Following the steps above for the interior door, create areas for the hinges and latch the hinge onto the door frame. Because exterior doors are heavier and more durable, you may need power tools and equipment such as a cordless screw gun and a utility knife to carve out the hinge mortise.

Whether replacing the door frame or not, upgrading or repairing your doors (screen doors included) is a great way to give your home a new, polished look. If you choose to replace the entrance door, you can have a bit of fun and experiment with a different color as well. You can also use this time to add some tech like a keyless door lock to your new door.

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Tonya Bruin

Tonya Bruin is the CEO of To Do-Done, an Ottawa handyman service. To Do-Done provides 100% guaranteed handyman services in Ottawa, with quick turnaround times. They get the fundamentals right: they answer your emails & phone calls, show up on time, get the job done quickly, offer easy online payment, clean up, and employ only vetted, reliable, friendly professionals.