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How to Install a Single Internal Door

Installing new doors can add a touch of style and a professional finish to your new interior design. Not only do modern internal doors look great, they can also make your home feel more cosy and welcoming, and improve your property’s energy efficiency too. A good quality door will save you money over its lifetime by significantly cutting your heating bills.

How to Choose Your Door

There are dozens of different door styles out there, to suit period homes, contemporary interior design, and everything in between. The main things that you will want to think about are the style, the material, and the finish.

  • Panelled doors offer good privacy and look luxurious and elegant. You can stain, paint or varnish them to match or contrast with the rest of your décor.
  • Glazed doors are ideal if you want to let more natural light into a room. They can make smaller rooms feel brighter, airier and more welcoming.
  • Fire doors offer 30-60 minutes of protection in the event of a fire. Depending on the size and layout of your home you may be required to have fire doors fitted. Talk to your local authority for advice about this.

Most interior single doors are either made of uPVC or wood. Wooden doors can be solid hardwood, veneered, or hollow core moulded. The most affordable option is hollow core moulded, and these doors are sold either pre-painted, with a woodgrain or smooth finish, or ready to paint – making them ideal for people who have a colour in mind. Solid hardwood doors are durable and long-lasting, but tend to be a little more expensive. Veneered doors are a good compromise, as they have a hardwood veneer, but are lighter and use less wood to make, so they are usually more mid-range in price.

How to Measure Your Space

When you are shopping for a replacement door, make sure that you measure the size of the opening (from frame to frame) instead of measuring the existing door. This will ensure that the door is a good fit.

You should take five measurements:

  • Measure the width of the door at the top, middle and bottom, and take the widest measurement, in mm.
  • Measure the height of the door – taking the vertical side of the frame from the floor to top. Take into account a small allowance for the carpet or other floor covering. Measure the frame on each side, and use the highest measurement, in mm.

Doors, even hollow ones, come with hardwood lippings around the outsides which can be planed or sanded to make the door fit into an opening if it is too tight.

There are several standard sizes of door, based on the most common openings. If you live in an older property your interior doors may not be one of the more common sizes, and you may need to get a bespoke door made. If you have very large door openings, then one option is to get a standard sized door, and add sidelights to fit the rest of the opening.

How to Install an Internal Door

Some doors are supplied ‘ready to hang’ with all the hardware and fixings included. In other cases, when you buy a door, you just get the door, and you will need to fit the handles, etc yourself. These instructions assume that you are buying a slab door that will be hung in an existing frame.

Usually, if you buy a standard-sized door, it will be a tight fit in a standard-sized frame, and you will need to trim a little off the height and the edge. Try to remove an equal amount of lipping from both sides of the door, rather than cutting down one side significantly.

You can make the job much easier if you use the same size of hinge on the new door as you did on the old one, since this means that you will be able to keep the original hinge holes and hinge positions. If you are unable to do this for whatever reason, try to stick as close as possible to the guideline positions – placing hinges 15cm from the top of the door frame, and 22.5cm from the bottom of the frame. If you need a third hinge to support a heavy door, place this in the middle between the other two hinges.

You can re-use your existing handles, assuming that the latch works well. If you need to replace the handle (or even just the latch), then this is usually easy to do – although you may need to make a new slot in the frame to accept the latch plate. When doing this, take care to chisel away from the body, and keep your hands well behind the cutting edge. If the original latch or the door hinges are stuck because they have been painted over, you can use a screwdriver to prise them off, breaking the paint.

Installing the Door:

  • Remove the existing door, unscrewing it from the hinges.
  • Put the door into the opening to measure it up. Allow for a 3mm gap between the hinged edge of the door and the door lining. You can use a butt hinge to measure the gap.
  • Allow for a 3mm gap on the closing edge. Draw a line on both edges of the door so that you can trim an equal amount off both edges.
  • Take the door out of the opening, lay it on its side, and plane off the excess wood.
  • Replace the door and check that the gap is appropriately sized.
  • Do the same for the top and bottom of the door.
  • Work from the outer edge of the door, inwards, when planning, to prevent splitting the end grain of the wood. 
  • Confirm that the gaps are the right size, and then mark where the hinges belong.
  • Remove the door, position the hinges, and draw around them to mark the position and thickness.
  • Use a chisel to make cuts where the hinges belong, then use a knife to mark out the edges and back of the hinge.
  • Remove the marked wood using a chisel, making cuts across the grain every .5cm, taking care not to split the wood.
  • After removing the wood, hold the hinges in place and mark pilot holes
  • Secure the hinges into the door.
  • Fit the other half of the hinge into the correct position on the door frame.
  • Mark the top, bottom and latch casing positions on the door face, ensuring that they line up with the strike plate on the door frame.
  • Measure the latch length and the distance from the latch end to the centre of the spindle and mark this on the door as well.
  • Drill into the door using a flat bit that is slightly bigger than the latch casing.
  • Drill into the door at the marked point for the spindle position. Working carefully so as not to split the wood. Push the latch into the hole, and draw around the latch plate.
  • Remove the latch and chisel away to remove the wood around it.
  • Screw the latch into place.
  • Insert the spindle through the latch.
  • Position the handles on the spindle, and mark out the fixing holes.
  • Fix the handles in position.
  • Close the door and make sure that the latch fits the strike plate properly.
  • Adjust the strike plate if necessary.
  • Test that the door moves properly. If not, adjust the hinges so that the door moves smoothly.
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