Hanging a door is a task well within the capabilities of the DIYer and is a very useful skill to have. We show you how to hang a door quickly and safely and offer some important tips to make sure you do a great job, first time.
Buying a new door
When selecting a new door, you will need to make a careful note of the overall size of the opening into which it is to fit. As you will no doubt find, door openings are rarely square or perfectly upright. The new door will need to be trimmed to suit.
Doors come in standard sizes, so you will need to choose one which suits, making allowance for trimming. Most interior doors can be trimmed to fit. Be sure to check the thickness of the door as this will also need to suit your frame.
Preparing the new door
Many new doors come with the stiles untrimmed. These ‘horns’ as they are called should be cut off square. Lay the door on your workbench and use a carpenter’s try square to mark the cut line. Hold the handle section against the edge of the door and line the blade up with the bottom/top of the door. Mark the line and trim with a reasonably fine-toothed saw. You should hold the saw so that it cuts cleanly along the line, but also pay attention to the angle of the blade in relation to the face of the door so that the bottom/top edge is also square.
Measuring your door
Measure the width of the opening at the top and bottom but deduct 4mm, to allow 2mm clearance at both sides. . Transfer these measurements to the door. If the door is only a little wider than the opening, measure from one edge and mark the cut line. If, however, it is a good deal larger, measure and mark the cut lines so that an equal amount will be trimmed from both sides. This is essential when fitting panelled or framed doors to ensure they appear symmetrical.
Now, measure the height and transfer the measurements in a similar fashion, allowing 2mm for clearance at the top and 6mm clearance for the floor. The latter may well need to be more if the floor is carpeted or uneven. If in doubt, take off the minimum. It’s always possible to take off more, but a little difficult to add more on!
Trimming the door
Use a vice on your workbench to steady the door. Pack both sides with cardboard to prevent damage to the door. Trim to the marked lines using a sharp plane. The trick is to hold the plane firmly in contact with the surface, square with the edge, and run it along smoothly. Work your way gradually down to the trim line over the entire length. Avoid trimming a short section at a time as this will lead to an undulating surface.
When trimming the top and bottom, you must only work from the outer edge, in. If you plane towards the outer edge, the end of the stiles will split.
Where more than 6mm or so needs to be trimmed from the door, it makes sense to use a saw to cut the majority of the excess before finally planing down to the trim line.
Offer the door up to the opening and check the fit. If necessary, mark any additional trimming and plane as before. To help with this process, use a couple of small cheese shaped wooden wedges to hold the door off the floor by the appropriate amount. At this stage, any minor adjustments can be made from one edge rather than both without noticeably upsetting the symmetry.
Once the door fits well with correct clearance all round, use your wedges again to wedge the door in the frame in its correct position. Remember to wedge it up to the correct height for floor clearance.
You will need two 100mm hinges for a standard door, but heavier solid doors should be supported on three hinges. Three hinges will also be required where one side faces an area substantially hotter or more humid than the other, such as an airing cupboard.
Marking the rebates for hinges
Holding the hinge against the door, mark both the door and frame for the top and bottom of each hinge.
The hinges should be set 175mm from the top and 250mm from the bottom. If there is a third hinge, this should be midway between the two.
Remove the door and steady it, hinge edge upwards, in the vice of your workbench. Protect the faces with cardboard.
Lay the opened hinge against the appropriate marks. Its spindle section outermost, projecting from, and parallel to, the edge of the door.
Mark around the edge of the hinge with a pencil. Repeat for the other hinges.
Cutting the recess
Measure the thickness of the plate and mark this on the door face with a pencil line.
Using a sharp chisel, cut into the door edge along the outline to this depth. Use the chisel so that its flat edge is against the line.
Now make a series of cuts across the grain within the outline. This is then pared out by using the chisel at a shallow angle to the door edge and working from the centre to the ends of the recess. The chisel is held so that its curved face is against the surface, to scoop out the waste rather than dig in.
The recess may be made very slightly deeper at the inner edge so as to prevent the hinge binding when the door is fully closed.
Marking the screw holes and fixing
Sit the hinge in the recess checking that it is perfectly flush with the surface at the outer edge and flush or fractionally low at the inner edge.
Mark the screw holes and remove the hinge. Drill a small diameter pilot hole for each, then replace the hinge and fix with the correct size screws for the job. These should sit flush with the hinge surface.
Repeat for the other hinges then hold the door in position and check the marks for the hinges on the frame. Move the door out of the way, and use a spare hinge to mark the recess required. Take care to ensure that the hinge is set at a slightly greater distance from the door stop than the distance from the face of the door to the other flange of the hinge. Otherwise, the door will bind as you try to close it. With the positions marked, cut out the recesses in exactly the same way as before.
Hanging the door
With the door in the open position, use the wedges to line up the hinges with the recesses and fix with one screw in each hinge.
Check the operation of the door before finally fitting the remaining screws.
If the door binds against the frame, and your hinges are correctly recessed flush, you may need to trim a little more off the size of the door with a plane. Mark the amount and remove the door to do this. If the hinges have not been set correctly, you will need to adjust these. Watch the hinges carefully as you shut the door. If they seem to be pulled, you may have recessed them too deeply. In this case, they may be packed out to the correct level with a slither of card. If the hinge faces are touching before the door is fully closed, they have not been recessed flush and will need to be re-set correctly by paring out a little more with a chisel.