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Doors Resources

How to Replace an Exterior Door

A home’s front door is the first thing visitors or a potential home-buyer sees when they visit. Not only is it an integral component for curb appeal, but it’s a source of protection — protecting your home from outside elements and assisting with its energy efficiency, keeping it insulated round the clock. 

That is why it is important to make sure that when it’s time to replace an exterior door, you’re not cutting any corners. Here’s what you need to know and consider. 

Table of Contents

When is it time for a door replacement?

Aside from just being in the mood to give your home a new look, there are tell-tale signs that suggest it’s time for a door replacement. 

An external door is made to withstand extreme elements over the years, not limited to rain, snow, and sun. Long-term exposure can result in warping, chipping or not being able to shut your door properly. 

Signs it’s time for a replacement include: 

  • Rust, dents or large scratches 
  • Signs of rot 
  • Flaking paint
  • Softening wood
  • Cracks along the edges
  • Worn out weather strip
  • Air and extra light coming in from around the door frame
  • Sun stains/fading/peeling 
  • If there’s a glass component, moisture stuck inside the panes

All of these symptoms are examples of a door losing its integrity. What’s more, air coming through the door frame means your front door is costing you in your monthly utility bill by not being better insulated. 

Older doors are also susceptible to being less secure according to USA Today because they tend to be thinner and may not have deadbolts. 

A new door will not only deliver peace of mind but as noted by Modernize, it’s also a simple upgrade that will deliver a high ROI at the time of resale. This is especially true since it’s reported that curb appeal can increase a home’s value by as much as 12 percent and that a door replacement is one of the top return on investment percentages among home upgrades

How do I replace an exterior door? 

After deciding it’s time to replace your door, it is time to decide who is doing the work. 

Unless you’re altering your home’s structure, for example, by widening the doorway, this isn’t a project that requires a permit and many homeowners opt to do it themselves. However, Modernize can help you find a professional if you decide to go that route.  

For the DIY-ers, the process goes like this: 

Decide what you’ll be replacing the door with

Besides considering materials, such as wood, metal, fiberglass or glass door, you’ll also need to consider if you’ll be going with a slab or pre-hung door for this project. A slab is just the door while a pre-hung door includes the frame that supports it. 

The benefit of a pre-hung door is the hinge and lock positions will be aligned, while with a slab that’s not guaranteed. A pre-hung door also ensures that you’re not putting a new door on an old frame that is damaged or not properly sealed. 

“Replacing the door only is like buying a new car and keeping your original tires,” Natedra Banks, senior merchant of exterior doors at Home Depot, explained to the Washington Post

Take measurements

Ideally, to keep things simple, the door you’re ordering will be the same size as the door being replaced. That said, there are four measurements you’ll need to know: 

  • Door size: measuring the width and height of the existing door 
  • Jamb width: measuring from the backside of the interior trim to the backside of the exterior trim
  • Rough opening: measuring the width of the opening between door frames and the bottom of the sill to the top of the opening
  •  Exterior opening: measuring to the outside of the exterior casing surrounding the door as well as the bottom of the sill to the top of the trim 

Remove your old door, prep the new one and secure into place

Out with the old and in with the new, this is the part where you’ll have to remove your existing door and check the condition of the surrounding framing and subflooring. 

From there, you’ll want to trim the new door jambs to ensure the door is able to open and close properly and finally, screw the door into place. 

Select hardware

You don’t need to pick out specific hardware for your new door, just make sure it’s ordered with a standard lock bore. As noted by the Washington Post, some door manufacturers also offer a handle set to make the project even easier. From there, you can save the customizing for another day. That said, it’s wise to decide early on if you anticipate getting a chain lock or door stopper. 


Ultimately, a door replacement is an intermediate-level DIY project that can reap large rewards. The average door replacement costs under $1,000 but is considered one of the top ROI home upgrades by percentage. 

Of course, if the installation process seems intimidating, Modernize can help set you up with a contractor who can help make your curb appeal vision a reality. 

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