A Guide to Exterior Door Replacement

door replacementExterior doors are often overlooked when it comes to home improvement chores, but they shouldn’t be. After all, an exterior door is the face of your home.  Your front door, for example, is what everyone sees when they drive past your home through the neighborhood.

If you have a paint-chipped, abused or weathered exterior door, a replacement can do wonders for the aesthetics of your home.  Aside from looks, an exterior door means security, so make sure yours measures up to the test of harsh outdoor elements and possible intruders.

Types of Exterior Doors

A guide to exterior door replacement wouldn’t be complete without introducing the most common materials of exterior doors.

Steel Doors

One of the most durable materials on the market for exterior doors is steel.  Strong, resistant to shrinking and warping and available in hundreds of styles and options, it seems as if you cannot pass through a neighborhood these days without spotting the ever-present steel front door.

Steel doors from Feldco also have a hallow core with foam filling. This prevents drafts from getting into your home through the door. This has two benefits: your home will be comfortable year round and you’ll save money on your energy bills.

Fiberglass Doors

A high quality door replacement option is the newly popular fiberglass exterior door.  As durable as steel, fiberglass excels in extreme weather and temperature and offers the same energy efficiency, but stands out from other exterior options due to attractive warranties typically available with its purchase.

There are many different customization options available to fiberglass entry doors. There are beautiful window inserts, transoms, sidelights, unique hardware and a multitude of different colors choices. You can even get wood grain finishes to make your door look like a wood door without the hassle of maintenance.

Wooden Doors

The traditional choice has long been wooden doors.  A beautiful, unbeatable look, wooden doors are truly timeless, although lately, the quality of these exterior doors has been beaten out by the up-and-coming fiberglass option.  For an effective, energy efficient wooden door, go for high quality, thicker wood, or else you may experience drafts and leakage.

Wood doors come with many problems though. For starters, they’re very expensive – they’re the highest priced door replacement option available. Not only are they expensive upfront, but you’ll need to spend more money to paint and stain them every few years if you want them to maintain their looks.

Wood doors also absorb moisture which causes them to warp and rot. These are very serious problems that aren’t easy to fix. Also, when your door starts to warp and rot, you could develop a mold problem which is very unsafe for your health.

Out of all of these materials, steel is probably the most common.  While wood may have been the limited material on the market back in the day, steel has since replaced it by attracting homeowners with its strength and durability, as well as its low maintenance and low cost.  Fiberglass has recently become the trendy go-to for exterior doors.

How to Replace Your Old, Drafty Doors: Step by Step

You’re likely thinking at this point – just how tedious and painstaking is this process going to be?  Replacing your exterior doors could be very difficult and simply time consuming.  There are several different types of new doors for your choosing, but the most common is the pre-hung door.


Generally, to replace an exterior door you simply need to order a new one of the same size. However, older homes make this task a bit deceptive. With thicker jambs, raised foundations, and other oddities, taking accurate measurements of your rough opening is crucial for when you order your new pre-hung door.

First, take measurements of your old door.  To order a new exterior door, you’ll need to know the height and width of the old one.

Next, take note of the size of jamb width, this will ensure that your new door will fit against the interior trim without the use of jamb extensions.

Measure the rough opening.  This will help you calculate the exact measurements of your door opening for the perfect fit.  The rough opening is the measurement of the entryway without the door and jamb.

It’s recommended that before you make a purchase for your new door, you will need to compare the measurements of the rough opening to those of a pre-hung door in order to confirm that your new unit will indeed fit.

Measuring may sound easy, but it’s not and it’s very important. When your door opening isn’t measured correctly and you get the wrong door, it could very costly to fix the problem. You’ll want to hire a professional door installation company who can measure the opening for you.


This may be the most time consuming part of the job, but if you’re able to navigate your way around basic carpentry tools and tasks, this part of the installation can be completed in a day.

Remove hinge pins, hinge leaves and nails.  This can easily be achieved with a hammer and nail set.  Watch out – your old door will be heavy!

Carefully remove the old trim.  Using a putty knife, pry the interior trim away from the door frame and wall, but do so gently, you don’t want to damage the walls.  You can reuse your interior trim if you’d like, so set it aside to avoid damaging it.

Next, it’s time for the exterior trim to go, so slice the caulking seal between the brick and the trim, as this will make removing the trim easier for you.  A sturdy pry bar will do the job.

Score away any old caulking with your knife.  Take note that there’s a possibility that your new pre-hung door may already have exterior trim.  Then, remove the jambs with a handsaw and use the pry bar to tear them out completely.

After you have removed the entirety of the doorframe, make sure your sill is the proper height for your new door.  Add shims if you must.  Finally, check the weatherproofing for additional adjustments.

Install Your New Door

Your new door will include instructions for installation from the manufacturer; use this as your guide for this part of the process. You’ll now set your new unit inside the opening, but make sure you grab your leveler for this, you don’t want to hang a crooked door after all of your hard work.

After the door is hung, double check to see if all the parts are operating correctly. Make sure the door opens and closes properly and take a few steps back to ensure it is aligned and hanging straight.

Sealing the Door Replacement

Caulk the frame to secure it into place with expanding foam.  This will help with insulation, keeping the energy inside of your home and prevent it from leaking and escaping through gaps.

Finishing Up With Your New Door

Your new door isn’t complete until you’re satisfied with how it looks.  This may mean painting it, but it is possible the door you selected is already your desired color.

It could also mean getting the perfect doorknocker, secure deadbolt or stately door handle if you haven’t done so already.

Don’t Install Your Door Replacement Yourself

Getting a replacement door can improve your home’s energy efficiency, security and curb appeal. However, if your door isn’t installed properly, it won’t do any of those things. In fact, it will make your home less energy efficient, secure and detract from the curb appeal.

door installation done by a professional

That’s why it’s very important to have your door replacement installed properly. We recommend hiring a professional because they install doors every day. They know exactly what they’re doing and can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

You Can’t Go Wrong With a New Exterior Door

As we’ve already mentioned, if you want to skip the do-it-yourself method of replacing your exterior door, you can always turn to the pros.  Many manufacturing places also offer installation of doors.  Also, for those who want to avoid having to maintain their new exterior door, choose a material that avoids constant maintenance, like steel or fiberglass.

Replacing your exterior door is essential in keeping your home safe, secure and looking good.  Keep the face of your home presentable with a new exterior door, choosing from a variety of different styles, materials and adornments.  While there are numerous options for replacement doors, the most important matter is the fact that your home is now complete with a brand new one.

When you need a door replacement, get a free quote from Feldco. Our premium exterior doors are installed by factory trained and certified professionals. There’s a reason why we’ve been able to help over 350,000 homeowners with their home improvement needs.

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