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Installing Exterior Door | Step by Step | DIY How To

Updated: 5 days ago

Today we are back on a job site we haven't been to in a long time. We are going to install an exterior door with just one person. Before we get into that, if you are interested in designing your own post frame home, barndominium, shop, garage, or whatever the case is, check out our website. If you are considering doing or doing your own build, check out our patreon group linked below. The group is a great community of other self-builders. We have live videos each month where you can ask us questions and we talk about our tips and tricks as self-builders. It's a great community to be a part of.


Installing an exterioir door

This is a post frame building and we're installing this exterior door in the concrete. Let’s start with a couple of really important things when you're installing a door by yourself. You want to make sure that that concrete is perfectly level. In order to do this I get my level out and I grind off what I need to. Concrete is rarely perfect. Secondly, you’re going to want to find out which side of this door is my jamb side. Once I know that I'm going to level that with shims before I install the door. If I level it prior to installing the door I know when I put that door in that pocket I can slide it over against my shims and that is going to fit perfectly. Doing those two things right off the bat will alleviate most of the problems you would face when installing an exterior door.


My opening was framed to the rough opening on the plans which is 38 ½ and if I measure the door it's 37 ½  so that's an inch difference that means I have ½ inch of play on both sides. So because I'm installing this by myself, what I like to do is shrink that rough opening down so I have about ¼ inch of play on each side of the door. To do this I'm going to take a piece of plywood and I'm going to level it down the jamb side. By doing that, I can stick my door up against there, screw it in place, and I know my bottom sill and my jamb side are going to be level and plumb. 

Flashing tape for an exterior door

Then we will cover the grade board and edge of the concrete with some flashing tape and then we'll get the head jamb prepared. So for the head jamb I measured and it’s about an inch higher than I want it so I'm just going to use a couple pieces of plywood and do the same process as I did on the side jamb. 


Now I'm going to run a bead of sealant along the edge of the two door jambs, across the head and then two beads right along the bottom. You’ll want to read the manufacturer's instructions for that part. Since you plumbed this hinge side jamb, if I push the door all the way up against there that should make the door plumb. Now I need to go in and do the other side. All I'm going to do on this side is make the reveals look nice, shim this up, and put screws through. As I was going through I just double checked everything and on the top left side it was a little low. Maybe just like 1/16 -1/8 inch so I just shim that up. That's why the directions might tell you to put a couple of generous lines of sealant down. If you have to shim up one side you're still going to get a good seal there.

How to install an exterior door

Now we're going to go to the frame of the door and put a screw above and below the lock set. To do this I'll pull the seal back and I'll hide the screws behind there. You just want to make sure you're pushing in on the door so they're all the way up against the outside. Then I'll put shims in and run the screws in. As I put shims and screws in I just open and close the door and make sure it is the way I want it to look. You can see that if you start out with a level sill and a plumb hinge side of your door jamb, installing a door really isn't that bad.


Once you get that done, you just have to check your reveal by opening and closing the door, and put your screws in behind that weather seal. Then we’ll go ahead and put sealant where the manufacturer calls for it. You’ll want to cut all of your shims off right away so people don't catch on them. On the bottom of your door sill there's usually like four to five caps and if you pop those off there's a little screw head. You can raise and lower the height of the jamb so that it seals better on the bottom of your door. I could tell that one side was a little bit low so I raised that up.


We ran a bead of sealant along the inside and you want to make sure you get it pushed up in there because if water runs down it can get in there. Then I ran another bead on the outside of the brick mold all the way around. 


Making sure your exterior door is sealed

Once we got the door installed I ran my j-trim down the side of the door and we installed our piece of metal. Then I'll bring the house wrap down and then I tape it across the top of this door jamb. Then I'll have J-trim on the side and J-trim across the top with some silicone behind it so not, water shouldn’t be able to get in there. We make sure our piece of j-trim extends past the corner so if any water does come down it's going to come to the sides. If somehow it gets up behind the j-trim, our tape will prevent it from getting directly to the door. 


The lock sets typically let you adjust the distance between the edge of your door and where your center bolt hole is. Mine happened to be adjusted properly already but that rarely happens. You can then install your handle by following the instructions from the manufacturer. It typically takes just a few screws. Once that’s in we're going to take the strike plate which is what and place it. One thing I like to do to make sure I put the strike plate exactly where it's supposed to is shut the door and watch where the bolt hits and mark it with a pencil. This helps you know if you need to have your strike plate a little bit up or a little bit down.


Exterior door lock set and handle

The notch provided on my door by the manufacturers is too small for my deadbolt plate so I had to go in and make that bigger. Luckily I had a bunch of chisels with me. I go in with a pencil and trace around the edge of the deadbolt plate and then chisel that out. You want to be really careful and take your time when chiseling. Once you have it all chiseled out, you can go ahead and screw in the plate. If you are looking for a really nice finish, something I like to do is tape off the plate and then take some wood putty and fill in any gaps, let it dry, then sand it down to get a nice finish. 


Lastly you’ll install the deadbolt into the door. When doing this, notice that it says top and bottom. That is the direction you are going to want to install it. There's a small slot and you can slide the straight bar of your lock through there. Sometimes these come with a little ring you can put on there that can help keep it centered once it's tight but mine looks like it was already built into it. That should be all you need to know about installing an exterior door. It’s not always ideal but can definitely be done as a one man job.


Thank you,

MR Post Frame



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