Installing a hinged patio door

MATERIALS: Door assembly, drip edge, caulk, shims, 2-inch galvanized roofing nails, 10d casing nails, fiberglass insulation

TOOLS: Screwdriver, 4-foot level, circular saw, chisel, caulking gun, utility knife, gloves, dust mask, safety glasses, ear protection

RETROFIT DOORS - If you're replacing a patio door, you can also get what's called a retrofit door. You won't need to take the wood back to the rough opening to install a retrofit door. Just take out the old door and attach the hinges of the new one to the jambs. If you're considering a retrofit door, check with the store to see what measurements it will need to order your replacement.

Patio doors dramatically incorporate an outdoor deck or patio into your living space, creating an easy flow of traffic into and out of your house. If you’re installing a door in a new location, the first step is to cut and frame a rough opening in the wall. If you’re simply replacing a door, start with Step 1 below.


• To simplify installation, buy a patio door with the door already mounted in preassembled frames. Install the patio door so that it is level and plumb, and anchor the unit securely to the framing to prevent the possibility of bowing and warping.

• Yearly caulking and touch-up painting will help prevent moisture from warping the jambs.

• The doors may be removed if you’re installing the frame without help. Reinstall the doors after you have placed the frame in the rough opening and nailed at opposite corners. Adjust the bottom rollers on a sliding door after the installation is complete.

• To remove a hinged door, remove the hinge pins. On sliding doors, remove the stop rail found on the top jamb of the door unit.

KEEP IT SIMPLE - If you are installing a door in an existing opening, see if you can find a new door that will fit without having to reframe the rough opening. It’ll save you time and money.

1 REMOVE THE OLD DOOR. Lift the doors out of their tracks and set them aside. Remove all framing down to the rough opening. If installing a door in a new location, remove the necessary interior wall surfaces, then frame the rough opening for the patio door. Finally, remove the exterior surfaces inside the framed opening.

2 TEST-FIT THE NEW DOOR UNIT. Center the unit in the rough opening. Check to make sure that the door is plumb. If necessary, shim under the threshold to level the door. Have a helper hold the door in place while it is unattached.


4 CUT THE SIDING. Wear ear protection and safety glasses. Using a circular saw, cut the siding along the outline, just down to the sheathing. Stop just short of the corners to prevent damage to the siding that will remain. Finish the cuts at the corners with a sharp wood chisel. Be careful of kickback and of wiring inside the wall.

5 CHECK THE OPENING FOR SQUARE. Measure diagonally from inside corner to inside corner. If the measurements on both diagonals are equal, the frame is square. If the diagonals differ by more than 1/4 inch, the door will be too far out of alignment. Shim at the sides, directly under a jamb, to correct the problem.

6 CUT A DRIP EDGE. For extra protection from rain, cut a piece of drip edge to fit the width of the rough opening, and then slide it between the siding and the existing building paper at the top of the opening. Do not nail the drip edge.

7 CHECK THE FLOOR OR SUBFLOOR. In some cases, removing an old door also removes part of the floor or subfloor. If so, cut a piece of pressure-treated wood the same thickness as the interior floor to fit the opening. Put it in place and check to see whether it's level. If necessary, level the surface with shims every 4 inches.

8 INSTALL THE SHIMS. Put the shims in place and apply two or three beads of caulk.

9 NAIL THE PATCH in place with galvanized roofing nails.

10 CAULK THE THRESHOLD. Once youve prepared the subfloor, get ready to install the door. Apply beads of caulk along what will be the edges of the door threshold. Underneath on the threshold or deck, apply a bead of caulk positioned so that it will seal the end grain of the jambs and brick mold.

11 CAULK THE FINS. Some doors have metal fins that you nail through to hold the door against the house. Others have a piece of molding known as "brick mold" that extends beyond the door frame; you nail that to the house. Caulk the back of the fins or molding before positioning. You'll nail them in Step 14.

12 LIFT THE DOOR INTO PLACE. Remove any packaging from the door and lift it in place carefully so that you don't accidentally smear the caulk onto an exposed part of the floor.

13 CHECK FOR SQUARE. Double-check the diagonals to make sure the door has remained square. If the diagonals differ by more than 1/8 inch, shim as necessary to bring the door back into square.

SHIM THE THRESHOLD - Metal thresholds need a solid surface under them. Gaps, or an out-of-level floor, will cause the threshold to bend when you step on it. Many manufacturers specify that you support the bottom of the threshold with a solid surface that runs the entire length of the threshold. If you need to shim under such a threshold, you can still use individual shims, as long as you don’t leave spaces between them. Once you’ve installed the threshold, start any necessary shimming at one end. Install the first shims on each side of the threshold. Install the next two shims snugly against them. Work your way to the center, checking the threshold with a level as you go.


15 SHIM THE SIDES OF THE DOOR. Drive the shims just far enough to make them snug. Double the shims, if necessary, or trim a few inches off the thin end in order to have a shim thick enough to do the job. Shim behind each hinge and behind the latch strike as well. Do not shim around the top of the door.

16 NAIL THE DOOR IN PLACE AND TRIM THE SHIMS. Double-check for square and level, and make any necessary corrections. Then drive 2-inch galvanized finishing nails into the doorjamb, through the shims, and into the frame. Trim the shims by scoring them with a knife and then snapping off the excess.

17 INSULATE AROUND THE DOOR. To reduce drafts, use a shim to stuff scraps of fiberglass insulation into the voids around the frame. Wear safety glasses, gloves, and a dust mask when working with insulation. Wash work clothes separately from general laundry.

18 ATTACH THE EXTERIOR MOLDING. If your door is surrounded by brick mold, drive 10d casing nails through it every 12 inches, attaching the molding and door to the house. If your door has a nailing fin, drive the nails specified by the manufacturer through the holes in it; cover the fin with molding.

19 CAULK THE SILL. Caulk completely around the sill nosing and the brick mold or metal trim. Press the caulk into cracks with a damp finger or with an inexpensive caulking tool. As soon as the caulk is dry, paint the sill nosing. Finish the door and install the lockset as directed by the manufacturer.

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