Wondering How To Fit A Door Frame On Your Own? Check This!

When one door closes, another opens. The real problem occurs when a door neither closes nor opens properly because of a damaged door frame or door lining. They are the unsung heroes of households. They’re rarely acknowledged or appreciated, but there’s no question that doors and houses depend on them for smooth everyday functioning. Normally, a good internal one can last you quite a bit of time and most people can go their entire lives without having to deal with squeaky doors or replace old door frames. However, those of us that don’t fall into that category are left with a door-sized problem on our hands. 

Man fits a white door frame

You may need to replace the old one for fire doors, folding doors, french doors, bifold doors, sliding doors, or any other interior doors for a number of reasons. You may want to change things up by alternating the direction in which the door opens, in which case the frame would also need to change. The interior frame also undergoes wear and tear like any other household item in use, and could end up being damaged. It could be rotten too, for that matter, and require replacement. For whatever reason, yours  needs to be changed and you probably don’t know where to start. Fret not, this guide is here to save the day! Keep reading to learn how to DIY fit an interior frame in simple, easy steps. 

What are internal door frame kits?

The good news is that you don’t have to build one from scratch. The bad news is that even ready-made ones require some kind of installation or assembly. The counter good news to this bad news is that this assembly, for all its steps, is actually quite straightforward. The job is made even easier if we use interior frame kits/door lining sets, which are readily available. And what exactly are these kits?

To put it simply, these kits are sets of materials that are used to construct the actual door frame. Most internal doorways in a property are standard-sized and require one out of only a couple of sizes. These kits give you ‘one size fits all’ materials to accommodate these multiple door sizes. Kits usually include a head (top piece), two jambs (side pieces), and a door stop batten or stop pieces. The head usually has slots (rebates) in it, at different distances, that you can place the jambs into. The two most common door widths are 686 mm and 762 mm and kits account for both standard sizes with different rebates. The slots that you use will be based on the door size – if your door is wider, you will use the slots on the outer sides and vice versa. 

Man preparing door frame for indoor installation

Other materials, not included in the internal kits, that you will require are:

  • Hammer and chisel
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Nails and screws
  • Drill and drill bits (depending on the brickwork/hardwood you’re drilling into)
  • Spirit level
  • Plywood
  • Wood as brace 
  • Utility bar

DIY removing the old interior door frame

You must “out with the old” before you “in with the new”. Here is how you can DIY remove the old one to make space for the new frame

Man with red t-shirt removes a frame door

  1. Remove the existing door from the frame for easy access.
  2. Separate the frame from the architrave and the former from the wall using a knife.
  3. Begin lifting it away from the frame using a hammer and a chisel. Start from the bottom of the frame and move upwards.
  4. Lift it from the wall using a utility bar. Be sure to protect the wall – using a thin plywood piece can be helpful here.
  5. Remove any nails that you can see from the wall.
  6. Now that the frame/door lining is exposed, bring out the tape measure and carefully measure the size of the doorway. Measure from multiple distances (top, middle, bottom for the door jamb and left side, middle, and right side for the head) and note down the widest measurement. 
  7. Cut the now exposed jambs in half and then pry the frame away from the wall. It should not take much effort.
  8. Now that you are left with a rough opening, you are ready to install a new interior frame.

How to install a new door frame step-by-step

When installing a new internal frame, our priority is making sure that it (and consequently, the door) is even, plumb, and in wind. This means taking precise measurements and double-checking placement before the final installation to ensure no errors are made. No one wants to fit theirs and find out afterwards that the door opening and closing isn’t smooth (it isn’t even and plumb) or the top of the door closes before the bottom (it’s not in wind). 

This is why it is important to carefully study these instructions several times before starting work. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into how to install it

  1. Place the header on a workbench or similar surface and add the side jambs next to the appropriate slots/rebates (use the measurements from step 6 in the previous section to figure which slots these will be). Make sure you don’t confuse the sides of the head.
  2. Use your drill to create two clearance holes into the slots and then place the jambs into the slots, drilling them into place using screws.
  3. There is often extra wood on the head, so after you’ve inserted yours into it, you can trim off the excess. The ends of the pieces should be flush.Man using nail gun for door frame
  4. Now we need to ensure that every piece is even and parallel. Use a piece of wood on the bottom of the door frame to make sure that everything indeed parallel. Use a diagonal brace to make sure that the rest of them are perpendicular, or properly square to the head.
  5. Time to mark out the fixing points in the rough opening for the frame. The fixing points should be around 35 mm away from the edge of the side jambs if you’re inserting the frame into a stud wall. Stagger the fixing points appropriately to protect the integrity of brickwork if you’re inserting the frame into brick. 
  6. Drill clearance holes for screws. If the frame is made of hardwood, countersink the screw holes using a bigger drill for screw heads. 
  7. Place everything in the rough opening and use a spirit level to ensure that all the apparatus is even, plumb, and flush with the wall. 
  8. Now you can finally screw the frame in place.
  9. Once again, make sure that the frame is flush, even, and appropriately square with the header. You can now remove the wood braces from the frame.
  10. Replace the architrave to hide the meeting point of the frame and the wall. Provided you were careful, you should be able to use the one you removed from the old frame. However, a little damage is nothing to be concerned about. You can bring out a paint can and give the architrave a smooth finish. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can buy a matching skirting board to complement your frame.
  11. Re-hang the door you removed in step one of the previous section. Voila!

Removing an old door frame and installing a new one requires procedural knowledge that not many people have. It is always a good idea to call a contractor and avoid experimentation if it’s your first time fixing anything around the house. However, if you have basic know-how experience with home improvement and access to the required materials, this guide should be able to help you fit a door frame on your own. By following the instructions given, you should have a brand new door frame installed in no time. Happy DIY-ing!

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