Removing an entry door

Before you can install your new entry door unit, you must | clear away the old door and frame. Removing an old door is a fairly easy task, requiring more muscle than skill, and not too much muscle, if you take your time and proceed systematically. With the exception of the interior trim, you probably plan to discard the old pieces, so it’s OK if you damage them. Make the removal process as easy on yourself as you can. If you have a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade, use it to cut through any nails that can’t readily be pulled out, then hammer the remaining nail shanks flush with the rough opening. You can also saw the door frame and pry it out in pieces if you have to.

MATERIALS: Scrap wood

TOOLS: Pry bar, utility knife, reciprocating saw

1 FIRST USE A UTILITY KNIFE TO SCORE BETWEEN THE MOLDING AND THE WALL, and then use a pry bar and hammer to gently remove the interior door trim. Protect the wallboard or plaster by placing a thin piece of scrap wood under the pry bar. Save the trim to reapply after the new door is installed.

2 TO PREVENT THE FACE OF THE TRIM FROM SPLINTERING, remove any remaining finishing nails by pulling them from the back with a hammer. You can also drive the nails beneath the surface of the trim and fill the holes.

3 USE A UTILITY KNIFE TO CUT AWAY THE OLD CAULK between the exterior siding and the brick molding on the doorframe.

4 PRY AWAY AND DISCARD THE OLD DOOR JAMB AND THRESHOLD. Cut stubborn nails with a reciprocating saw.

Making an opening for a door or window

The first step in cutting an opening for a door or window is to buy the door or window, then read the directions. What you’re looking for is the size of the rough opening—the distance between the pieces of framing that support the door or window. It will be slightly larger than the size of the door or window. The opening for doors, for example, is usually 2 inches larger than the door size (but follow the directions for your door). This leaves room for two 3/4-inch doorjambs, plus 1/2 inch of wiggle room that you’ll fill with shims.

MATERIALS: 2x6, 1/2" plywood for header; 8d nails; 16d nails

TOOLS: Hammer, pry bar, screwdriver, jack posts, short lengths of 2x6, utility knife, circular saw, stud finder, square, level, tape measure

1 REMOVE THE TRIM WITH A PRY BAR AND HAMMER, THEN PROTECT THE FLOOR WITH DROP CLOTHS. Cover interior doorways with plastic to confine dust. Shut off power and water that may run through the wall. Remove electrical cover plates and heating duct covers if they are located in the area to be removed.

2 MARK THE AREA OF THE WALL YOU WILL REMOVE. Put on safety glasses and a dust mask. On drywall, cut along the layout line with a utility knife. On plaster, cut the line with a circular saw, cutting through the lath but not into the studs. Remove the plaster or drywall surface with a hammer and pry bar.

3 ALL EXTERIOR WALLS ARE LOAD-BEARING, so you will need to provide support for the floor and roof above while you work. Begin by using a stud finder to find the joists nearest the area you're opening. Brace them with jack posts and a 36-inch 2x6, which is long enough to span the joists. Interior walls that have a double top plate are also load-bearing and will need the same support.

4 REMOVE THE STUDS. [First relocate wires and pipes that are in the way.) Cut them at top and bottom with a reciprocating saw or push the studs from side to side and pry them out with a pry bar. You may be able to reuse some of the material for jack or cripple studs when you frame the opening.

5 LAY OUT THE FRAMING ON THE SOLEPLATE. Start by drawing lines marking the edges of the rough opening. Measure 3 inches outside the opening, and draw a line marking the outside edge of the king stud you'll use to help frame the opening.

6 TOENAIL THE KING STUDS IN PUCE, WITH FOUR 8d NAILS AT EACH END. (Face-nail with 16d nails; toenail with 8d.) Then cut a jack stud long enough to reach from the soleplate to the top of the rough opening. Nail it to the king studs you just installed.

7 ON NON-LOAD-BEARING WALLS, NAIL A 2x4 HEADER ACROSS THE TOP OF THE TRIMMERS. On load-bearing walls, nail a built-up header in place. Cut short pieces of 2x4 to fit between the top of the header and the top plate. Nail pieces with 16d nails and toenail them in place with four 8d nails.

8 IF FRAMING A DOOR, cut through and remove the soleplate. IF FRAMING A WINDOW, mark the bottom of the rough opening on the jack studs. Cut a rough sill to fit snugly between the jack studs, and wedge it in place. Make sure it’s level and toenail it in place. Cut cripple studs to fit between the sill and soleplate—one under each end, and one every 16 inches.

9 NAIL THE CRIPPLE STUDS IN PUCE. For doors toenail cripple studs between the header and the top plate every 16 inches. For windows install cripple studs every 16 inches between the sill and the soleplate and the header and the top plate.

10 WHEN YOU’RE READY TO INSTALL J THE DOOR OR WINDOW, REMOVE THE WALL SECTION BEHIND IT. Start by drilling through the wall at each corner of the rough opening. Put the blade of a reciprocating saw in one of the holes and cut along the trimmer until you reach the next hole. Continue until you’ve cut out the sheathing.

Making headers

A header is a wooden beam that provides support for the framing above it. It spans a doorway or window in a load-bearing wall—and all outside walls are load-bearing. On a non-load-bearing wall, you won’t need a header over the doorway: A single 2x4 laid flat is enough. (Some interior walls are load-bearing; to determine. Headers are built up to be as wide as the surrounding framing. In 2x4 framing, for example, the header is a sandwich of two 2x4s on edge, with 1/2-inch plywood in the middle. The “real” dimensions of 2x4s are 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches, so the built-up beam is 3 1/2 inches thick and fits perfectly in place.

If the thickness of the header is determined by the surrounding framing, the width depends on the application. Codes vary, but generally speaking, the solid wood in a header for an opening up to 4 feet long should be 2x4s. From 4 to 6 feet, the lumber should be 2x6s. (Beyond that, you should call a carpenter.) When you make a header, cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to the same width as the 2x, and then cut all three to length. Make a sandwich, and nail it together with 16d nails at 16-inch (or 24-inch if that is your stud span) centers along the edges.

The section of wall that supports a header is framed a bit differently from the rest of the wall. The header fits between two “king studs,” which run floor to ceiling. The header sits on top of two “jack studs,” which are nailed to and supported by the king studs. In practice, you’ll install both the king and jack studs before you put the header in place. Because codes vary, don’t drive a nail until you’ve talked with your local building inspector. You must get a permit anyway. Ask a few questions, and get some advice while you’re at the permit office.

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