How to Replace an Interior Door

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Well, I've got the pickup headed west to the small farming community of Tissora, South Carolina. I'm on my way to visit Karen Harper and when I say she lives in the country, well, [LAUGHS] that's exactly what I mean.
[RON KNOCKS ON DOOR]
Hey, Karen.
KAREN HARPER:
Hey, Ron.
RON HAZELTON:
How are you?
KAREN HARPER:
Good to see you.
RON HAZELTON:
We're kind of on a farm here, aren't we?
KAREN HARPER:
We sure are.
RON HAZELTON:
I just saw some bulls out there in the front yard.
KAREN HARPER:
That's right. [LAUGHS] That's right -- the family farm surrounds us.
RON HAZELTON:
Wow. Karen Harper's been hard at work, repainting and wallpapering her family's ranch-style house. Her next project is to replace those plain hollow core bedroom doors with something more substantial and better looking.

So you want to take this down and replace it with a panel door.
KAREN HARPER:
Right.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay.

The old door comes off easily with a few taps on the hinge pins from Karen and a little added support from me.

Pull it away. There we go.

Then we head outside with the old door. We remove all of its hardware, then lay it on top of Karen's new pine panel door.

Now since the old door fit just fine, we're going to use it as a template to cut the hinged mortises and to bore for the lock set on our new door. So let's just get everything lined up there. Are you flush?
KAREN HARPER:
I'm flush on the side.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay, good, all right.

Once the two doors are clamped tightly together, we begin transferring the hinge locations.

So we'll start out by taking the combination square, laying it right on the edge. And then instead of using a pencil, I'm going to use a knife here. It gives me a much sharper line. As you'll see later on, it gives me actually a place to set the chisel.

After marking the sides of the hinge mortise, I use the combination square again to scribe a line across the bottom.  Okay, let’s set this down here.
[SOT]
We're about to begin marking the opposite side for the latch set when we discover a small problem. As you can see, our new door's a little bit wider than the old one, so I want to take some of this off and make them both the same width.

I could use a hand plane to do that but this is going to be a lot faster. This is a small power plane. A couple of passes is all it should take. We need to take off, oh, not more than an eighth of an inch. Now this is a hole saw. This is what we're going to use to cut out this large hole here for the latch cylinder.

And we're going to use the old door once again, as a template, so we know exactly where the hole goes. But also the thickness of this door will help keep this drill vertical. I want to stop when the pilot drill comes through the other side of the door.

So I'll watch down here and then I'll let you know when to stop. [DRILLING SOUNDS] Push down a little harder, a little further. Push a little bit more. Stop. Take it out.

We flip the doors over and using the small pilot hole as a guide – okay, so nice and vertical - continue drilling from the other side. This creates clean edges on both sides of the hole.
[SOT]
From here on, a lot of our work will be on the door's edge. We've come up with some temporary clamping jigs to hold the door in a vertical position. That will come in especially handy now. Karen uses a spade bit to bore the latch bolt hole. It must be perfectly vertical. So once again, we use the combination square as a guide.

Next, we screw the latch bolt in place temporarily and scribe around the outside of the plate. Now, it's time for some chiseling. We'll first need to cut the edge of the mortise. That knife mark we made earlier now provides a shallow V into which we can set the chisel blade, giving us much better accuracy than a simple pencil line would.

Now a chisel has two sides. This is the bevel right here, and this is the flat side. So always take the material out by placing the bevel down like this. With the latch bolt mortise complete, we turn our attention to the hinge mortises.

Now at this point, we're getting real close, so we can take the chisel and align it with the -- the bevel up, this part of it flat on here and -- and we can kind of -- can kind of pare a little bit of this off and get this really flat under here.

Flat. Now you're not, you're not digging in now, you're just -- you're just leveling it off, you're flattening it off, so make sure you keep it flat.

Our accurate marking and careful chiseling pay off and the hinges fit perfectly.
KAREN HARPER:
Oh, those are pretty.
RON HAZELTON:
While I install the doorknob set, Karen's inside, screwing on the new hinges.  Come up a little bit….
[SOT]
Well, it's time to hang the door. The hinge knuckles line up perfectly. And with a few taps on the pins, our door hanging project is complete.

Want to try it? See the latches? Well, it sounds good.
KAREN HARPER:
Yes, it's perfect.
RON HAZELTON:
You happy with it?
KAREN HARPER:
Oh, yes.
RON HAZELTON:
Now you've got a couple more of these to do. I'm going to give you this chisel out of my toolbox and I'll sharpen it before I go.

KAREN HARPER:
Okay, thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
And -- but I hope you'll give it a shot because I think you can do it.
KAREN HARPER:
Okay, okay, good start.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay.
KAREN HARPER:
I appreciate it.

New Interior Door Slabs in Place of Old Hollow Core Doors

If the thin, hollow core doors that were originally installed when your house was built are starting to splinter, peel, fade, or you just don't like them, it may be time for an upgrade. Solid, paneled replacement slabs are more affordable than ever. With a few fairly simple steps and the right tools, a clean new look is just a days work away.

Remove the Old Door
Step 1

Remove the Old Door

Begin by removing the old door. The easiest way to do this is to place a thin bladed screwdriver beneath the pin that holds each hinge together and tap it through with a hammer. Once the pin starts to come out, you can pull it out and move on to the next one. You may find it easier to pull the pins if you have a partner support the weight of the door. This will keep the pins from pinching. Once the pins are removed, carry the old door to your work area, as you'll need it to make the proper cuts in the new interior door slab.

Use the Old Door as a Template
Step 2

Use the Old Door as a Template

Using the old door as a template, begin marking the necessary cuts and mortises that you'll need to make on your new slab. You may find it helpful to clamp the two doors together. Use a square to ensure that they are lined up correctly before tightening the clamps. Use a utility knife to score the area for the hinge mortises and the new lockset.

Check the Door Width
Step 3

Check the Door Width

In this case, the new door is slightly wider than the old door. It will have to be planed down so that it will close once it is hung in the existing frame. Turn the doors on end, and using the old door as a guide, place the new door to the proper height. Don't try to remove to much wood at once. Ron is finding it easier to use a power planer for this project, but if you don't have one you can use a traditional wood plane.

Bore the Hole for the Lockset
Step 4

Bore the Hole for the Lockset

A hole must be drilled into the door to receive the lockset. Use a hole saw for this step. As with the previous steps, use the old door as a template. Instead of boring the hole straight through in one step, drill the hole into to door about halfway, just until the mandrel starts to poke through the back side of the door and provides a mark. Then turn the door over, and using the mark made by the mandrel, drill back through the other direction. This will prevent any splintering and will ensure clean sharp edges on your bore.

Create an Opening for the Latch
Step 5

Create an Opening for the Latch

Set the door firmly on its vertical edge. You may find it easier to work with if you build a simple jig to hold it in place while you complete the next few steps. Use a spade bit to drill the hole for the latching mechanism. Use a square to ensure that this hole is perfectly straight, or else the latch may not operate properly. Once the hole is drilled, temporarily screw the latch and face plate into the door so you can scribe around the face plate with your utility knife.

Prepare the Door Edges
Step 6

Prepare the Door Edges

Using the marks that you created earlier with the utility knife as a starting place, chisel out the mortises necessary to receive the hinges and the faceplate for the latch. Make sure that the bevel of the chisel is down as you tap it with the hammer. Once the majority of the wood has been removed, you can turn the chisel over and use it by hand to remove any high spots or excess wood.

Install Hardware and Re-Hang the Door
Step 7

Install Hardware and Re-Hang the Door

Now that the mortises have been made, the hinges and lockset can be installed. If you've done your job correctly, the new hinges should set cleanly into place with the ones you've screwed into the door jamb. Drop the pins into the hinges and your new door is hung, and ready to use. Enjoy the fresh new look!