How to Install a Front Door That’s Energy Efficient

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Now our front door doesn't look so bad, but in the summer, it swells to the point where we simply can't use it. And in the winter, it seems to let in everything, especially the cold.

Well, summers' on its way but I'm not gonna give this door a chance to start sticking again. Instead, I'm gonna replace it. Now, I want one that looks traditional but it's energy-efficient. So, let's jump in. My first step is to remove the wood trim that covers and conceals the edges of the frame.

Well, I think that's about all of the exterior trim that I'm going to have to take off. I'm gonna go inside now and start to remove some of the casing.
[MUSIC]
Well, our door is just about ready to come out. What's holding it in place right now are several nails that are driven through the frame and into the framing of the house. I'd say there may be half a dozen or so on each side.

I'm gonna cut through those, using a reciprocating saw and this blade right here is designed to handle nails. [SAWING SOUNDS] With all the nails cut, the doorframe including the side lights comes out in one piece.

Well, I got the old door out, that wasn't so bad. Now I want to prepare this opening for the new door. What's really important here is that the bottom be level and flat and that the opening itself be the correct size for the new door. I check the seal at the bottom and it's dead on level. The opening itself though, is a bit too large, so I add strips of plywood to the sides and top to make it slightly smaller.

To make sure there's a watertight seal around the doorframe, I insert foil tape under the trim above the door, fold it back, and tape it temporarily in place. Next, I apply the adhesive-backed aluminum tape to the sill and run it up the sides a few inches.

I cut the corners and fold the tape over the edge. Then put one final strip of metal tape on the top of the sill. Well, everything's well sealed down here against any kind of water intrusion. Now there are just a couple of things left to do before I actually put the door in.

One is to install this sill support. I've made it up from a piece of oak and a piece of angle iron. Here's how it goes in. I position the sill extension on a couple of wood blocks so I can free up my hands. Then, drive rust-resistant screws through the angle iron and into the framing of the house.

Next, I cover the metal with a strip of cedar trim and nail it in place. Finally, I head out to my truck to pick up my caulking tub. I apply three beads of silicone sealant on top of the sill to make sure no moisture will seep under the bottom of the doorframe.

Well, this is it, one of those moments of truth. Rick, a good friend of mine, has stopped by to give me a hand, setting the door and frame in place. It's heavy, but manageable. Now the trick here is to set the bottom in place without dragging it across the beads of sealant, then tip the door up into position.

Now, I've just put two nails in this door because now I want to go inside and make sure everything is square, plumb and level and if necessary, make a couple of adjustments.

The sides of the doorframe are in fact, plumb or vertical. Now the best way to check for square on an object this large is to measure diagonally from corner to corner and compare the measurements. If they're the same, and in this case, they are, then the frame is indeed square.

Now I also want to check the margin, that is the gap or space between the edge of the door and the doorframe. It should be uniform from the top all the way down to the bottom. In this case, it looks really good. But the ultimate test is, how well does the door open and close? Let's check it out.

Okay, great. So I'm gonna go back outside now and finish nailing it off. This doorframe, unlike its predecessor is held in place by this nailing strip or flange. Galvanized roofing nails are used to secure the flange to the framing of the house. Next, I'll need to make the flanges watertight.

The top one is covered with the metal tape I put in earlier. Then I add strips of aluminum tape over the side flanges as well. Now it's time to set up for a little woodworking.
[MUSIC]
First I cut three trim pieces to cover the nailing flange on the outside. Then I begin cutting miters on the interior casing. You'll notice I filled the space between the doorframe and the rough opening with fiberglass insulation.

Well, that finishes the installation of the door, but you know, the way I see it, what turns a doorway into a welcoming entryway is great hardware. Now, this is a company that makes a really, really nice —

So my wife Lynn and I went on the Internet and started searching.
LYNN:
It really adds, I think that would really —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
We ended up on the Baldwin Brass site, where we found just what we were looking for.
LYNN:
Oh, I like that.

RON HAZELTON:
Well, our hardware has arrived, it looks gorgeous, so I'm gonna go ahead and start installing it.
[MUSIC]
Now our entryway makeover really wouldn't be complete without a little lighting update. A final buffing on the doorknocker, the laying out of the welcome mat, and our front door transformation is finished. Welcome friend, come in and stay a spell.

Remove and Replace Your Existing Front Door In a Few Simple Steps

A front door that sticks, does not seal, or that just does not operate properly can be frustrating. Install a new door, frame, and sidelights that will maintain the original look of your home, but that provides the highest level of energy efficiency. Not only will you new front door look great, but it can help reduce your energy costs as well.

Remove Exterior Trim
Step 1

Remove Exterior Trim

Begin the process by removing the exterior trim that surrounds the door frame. This can be done with a pry bar and a hammer. Take care to not damage the surrounding material, as you may end up having to do some additional repairs. Removing this trim will expose the entire frame of the existing door so that you can cut through the nails as described in step three.

Remove the Interior Trim
Step 2

Remove the Interior Trim

After the exterior trim pieces have been carefully pulled away, repeat the process on the inside. If you hope to reuse these pieces be extra careful when removing them so that they don't split. If the new unit is a slightly different size than the old one, you'll need to purchase and cut new trim pieces anyway. Use a flat bladed putty knife to get them started without damaging the pieces.

Remove the Existing Door Unit
Step 3

Remove the Existing Door Unit

Cut through any frame nails using a reciprocating saw. After those nails have been cut, the entire unit should come out in one piece. There is no need to demolish the frame and remove it piece by piece, as this may damage the rough opening and require more work before the new unit can be installed.

Prepare the Opening
Step 4

Prepare the Opening

It is important the bottom of the opening is flat and level. You'll also need to verify that the opening is the correct size. In this case, the opening is slightly to large, so Ron uses strips of plywood to reduce the opening to accommodate the new door unit. The final step in prep is to install foil tape around the opening to ensure that it is water tight.

Install the Sill Support
Step 5

Install the Sill Support

Made from a piece of oak and angle iron, the sill support will ensure that your door sill has a solid foundation to rest upon and that the sill won't rock loose over time. This support piece should be secured directly to the frame work of the house with screws. Seal the area under the door sill and the sill support by laying three beads of silicone caulk on the support as the final step before setting the door into place.

Install the Door
Step 6

Install the Door

Get a friend to help you set the new door unit into place. It will be especially heavy if the unit has sidelights or a transom. Set the bottom firmly into place first, taking care not to drag it across the beads of sealant. Next, tip the door up into position. Secure the door with one or two nails, through the flange, just to hold it in place while you complete step seven. Don't drive all the nails yet, as you may have to make some adjustments.

Making Adjustments
Step 7

Making Adjustments

Check to see that the door is square and level. A 4 to 6 ft level can be used to check for level. Measure diagonally across the door to see if it is square. The two diagonal measurements should match. You will also want to check the margin, or the space between the door and the jamb.

Secure the Door in the Rough Opening
Step 8

Secure the Door in the Rough Opening

The best fastener to use for this project is a simple galvanized roofing nail, driven right through the nailing flange into the framework of the house. Once the unit has been nailed in all the way around, fold the flap of foil tape over the flange so that the unit is completely water tight.

Install the Trim
Step 9

Install the Trim

Cut three pieces of trim to cover the nailing flange on the exterior of the house. You will want to miter the corners for the installation of the interior trim. Before nailing the interior pieces into place, fill any gaps with loose fiberglass insulation.

Install the Hardware
Step 10

Install the Hardware

Take care to follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing the hardware. You may find it easier to use hand held screwdrivers instead of a cordless driver as well. While it is a little slower, you will be able to be more careful and avoid scratching the finish on your new hardware.