How to Fit a Door Frame

Whether you’re looking to update old interiors or want to change the decor in your home, installing a new door frame is a great way to do so. The process must be carried out correctly to ensure the door you hang will work seamlessly but it doesn’t have to be hard work and with this handy guide, you’ll be able to fit a door frame in no time.

What you’ll need:

  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pry bar
  • Scraper
  • Leveler
  • Set square
  • Nails
  • Sand paper
  • Wedge-shaped door packers (thin pieces of material which will go between the frame and wall)
  • Your new door frame

Removing the Old Frame

Step 1. Cut the seal

Use a utility knife to cut around the edge of the architrave (the edge that meets the wall and the edge that meets the frame) on both sides of the door frame. This cuts any paint, wallpaper or other sealants away so the architrave won’t cause any damage as it’s being removed. 

Step 2. Remove architrave

Using a hammer and chisel, gently tap between the architrave and the wall until there is enough room to fit a pry bar in. Use the pry bar to carefully pry the architrave away from the wall, moving around the trim loosening it in different places until it comes off. 

Note: If you plan to reuse the architrave or pieces of it – this is the time to label each piece to remind you how it will go back on.

Step 3. Remove old sealant and nails

Use a scraper to neaten the surface, removing any caulk, glue or nails that were left behind. This will give you a smooth surface to reapply your new frame and trim.

Step 4. Remove frame

Remove any screws then carefully pry the frame off using the same technique as above. If the frame has a sill at the bottom you should remove this last. The sill is generally fixed with a silicone sealant rather than nails, but you should still be able to pry it up in the same way as the other pieces.

Step 5. Clean Up

Remove any leftover nails or screws and scrape around where the frame was to remove any caulk or other sealant and gently sand the surface smooth. This will leave you with a clear opening, ready for a new frame. 

How to Fit a Door Frame

Step 1. Assemble the basic frame

Lay the frame on a clean surface where there is enough space to assemble it. Fit both jambs into the correct recesses in the head. You might need to use a hammer to tap them in firmly. Secure each jamb in place with a long screw.

Step 2. Trim the head

The head piece will usually be wider than you need. Trim either side so that it’s just less than the width of the opening. Ideally you should have just enough room around the frame to enable you to make slight adjustments when it’s in the opening.

Step 3. Brace the frame

Use pieces of scrap timbre to brace the frame in the correct shape while it’s being fitted. Nail on the braces with thin nails so that it will be easy to remove later. 

Brace the bottom of the frame first. Measure the width between the jambs at the head of the door and fix the timber to the jambs at the bottom of the frame so they are the same distance apart all the way down. Use a level and a set square to check the top corner on the jamb which will hold the hinges.

You can now check how square the entire frame is by measuring corner to corner on the diagonal. These two measurements should be the same as each other. If there is a significant difference – more than 5mm – you should check and reposition the braces.

Step 4. Insert frame into opening

Once you’re sure that the frame is level all around, you will be able to carefully push it into the rough opening. There should be enough space between the frame and the wall for you to make slight adjustments should you need to.

Step 5. Pack and level the frame

Use a spirit level to check the frame is still level. Use the door packers to align the frame correctly. These can be used to compensate for where the walls may not be even. Ideally, your frame will sit flush with the wall or protrude by about 1mm – especially if you are fitting an architrave.

Step 6. Fix Frame

The positioning of the fixings depends on the type of wall they will go into – stud or brick. Ensure the head is level and fix it in place then fix the jamb which will hold the hinges and the other jamb last. Use fixings that are appropriate for the wall material and at least 80mm long.

Step 7. Check your work

Use a spirit level to ensure the frame is still straight, level and plumb within the opening. Once the frame is fixed in place the shims can be trimmed or scored with a knife and then hit with a hammer so they are flush with the jambs. Use an appropriate filler or plaster to fill in the space between the wall and the frame. 

It’s common to fit a trim or architrave to hide the space between the frame and the wall and Leader Doors has many different options for you to choose from. If you’re also planning to change your door to suit your new frame, explore our internal doors for all the options you need.

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