How to Frame a Door: The Handy Homeowner’s Guide

How to Frame a Door: The Handy Homeowner’s Guide
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    Have you decided it's time for a new front door?

    A new front door is a great way to improve your home's curb appeal and security while also reducing heating and cooling costs.

    With the nearly endless list of trendy door styles, you're sure to find the perfect front door for your home.


Installing a new front door can be a costly home renovation project. Fortunately, you can learn how to frame a door to save money and ensure it works and looks great!

You should note that framing a door is a time-consuming process. On average, it can one to two whole days to complete. The process can involve cutting drywall, adding new studs, and building the frame.

You’ll need the proper tools, materials, and one other person ready to assist you as needed throughout the project. Having some experience framing doors will also help as it will minimize your risk for mistakes.

Are you ready for a new door? Here’s a handy guide on how to frame a door.

Door Framing Materials and Tools

Before you start tearing out your old door, you’ll need to get your materials and tools ready. The type of door frame you’re building will ultimately determine the tools you’ll need.

For most door framing projects, you will need the following:

  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Framing square
  • Hammer
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hand drywall saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Circular saw
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Small ladder

You will also need materials to make your frame. These include:

  • 3-inch screws
  • 16d and 12d nails
  • 2×4" or 2×6” framing lumber
  • 2×6” or larger header lumber
  • 1/2” plywood

circular sawband saw

      some wood working tools to consider      

You should have the new door and its materials ready to install. Take the time to find out more about the different door styles and materials to make certain you pick the right door for your entryway.

Make sure you have all of these materials and tools ready when you start your door project. You don’t want to leave your entryway wide open for longer than necessary.

  • 1. The Door Frame

    The door frame, or door sash, is the entire structure surrounding and supporting the door. A door frame is necessary for the installation of both pre-hung and regular slab doors. When properly installed, the door frame should match seamlessly to your home.

    The parts of the door frame include the door sill, the header, the top plate, and the door jambs. There are different types of door frames depending on the type of door you’re installing or the material you’re using.

    Common door frame materials include vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Each one offers different benefits ranging from affordability to durability based on your needs.

  • 2. Measure the Rough Opening

    The size of your rough opening should be the width of the door you’re installing. Most doors range from 22-inches to 42-inches in width. When you measure your rough opening, it must include the door width plus an additional 2-inches to fit the jambs and shims.

    If you need to add studs, you should add an extra 6-inches to allow space for the studs. Carefully measure out the opening and cut it with a reciprocal saw if you need more room to fit the door.

    If the current rough opening fits your new door and consists of the king studs, jack studs, top plate, and header, you can go right to installing your door.

leather sofainterior panel door

      some interior decor ideas to consider      

  • 3. Measure and Cut Plates and Studs

    Now you will need to add the top plate, bottom plate, and the studs. Measure and cut the top plate to cover the entire top of the rough opening and nail it in place. Do the same with the bottom plate and gently nail it to the floor in the rough opening.

    The king studs go on either side of the opening. They should run the entire length of the rough opening from the top plate to the bottom plate. Measure and cut them accordingly then nail them in place with the 12d nails.

    Next to the king studs are the jack studs. They measure the height of the door you’re installing plus an additional one to two inches for the door jambs and sill. They’re shorter as the header will rest on top of them.

    You can nail the jack studs inside the frame directly to the king studs.

  • 4. Installing the Door Header

    To make the header you will need two 2x4s cut to the same length and a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to place in between them. Measure and cut these pieces of wood to securely fit between the two king studs.

    Nail the header wood together by sandwiching the plywood in the center. Once assembled, place the header above the jack studs where it should fit snuggly in between the king studs. If everything fits well, you can nail the header in place.

  • 5. Cutting and Placing Cripple Studs

    There should be an open space between the top plate and the header. Here you will need to add one to three cripple studs depending on the width of the door. Wider door frames may need more while narrower ones may need less.

    Measure this space and cut a couple of short cripple studs to fit. Toenail by angling the nail to secure the cripple studs to both the top plate and the header. Everything should fit and hold firmly in place.

other valuable tips:
  • 6. Remove the Bottom Plate

    Now that your frame is in place, you can remove the bottom plate. Do this by carefully cutting away the bottom between the trimmer studs. This will give you room to install the sill and threshold at the bottom of the door.

  • 7. Install Your Door

    Once your door frame is in place you can start to install your front door. This involves placing it in the rough opening, attaching the jambs, and shimming it in place to ensure everything hangs plumb.

Learn How to Frame a Door Today!

Learning how to frame an exterior door is a great skill to have that will save you time and money. You won’t have to wait to schedule an appointment with a contractor and you can spend that extra money on a better quality door or another home improvement project!

Check out our latest renovation articles to learn more great ways to improve your home!

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