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Door Installation: How to Do It Yourself, or Hire Someone to Do It

Replacing a door instantly enhances the appeal of any home and it can be a relatively easy project. If you've always wondered how to go about replacing your doors -- either interior or exterior -- here is a primer on how to do it.

Generally, if you have basic carpentry skills, you can replace both interior and exterior doors yourself.

It can be a great weekend project for do-it-yourselfers, but keep in mind that a professional can make quick work of such a job, and in many cases it might be the wisest choice to ensure it's done properly (not to mention more quickly). And also bear in mind: How much is your time worth? Could you spend that time more fruitfully at your full-time job? Or spending quality time with your kids?

Also, if you are not comfortable working with power tools or don't have basic home improvement skills, you might want to consider a professional.

Ask for an installation recommendation at the store where you purchase the door; it's generally the fastest way to find someone qualified. Many home improvement stores have already contracted with licensed professionals to provide these services. (Make sure you are clear on any additional costs for having the doors installed, not just delivered.)

Or contact a local home improvement contractor; these folks will likely take on this kind of project, and might be able to find you a cheaper price on your door than you can through a retailer. As with all construction professionals, be sure to check out credentials for anyone performing work on your home.

Still want to do it yourself? Here's how.

Interior Doors

If you have decided you have the skills required to install your own doors, here are step by step instructions to guide you through the process.

1. Remove the old door by sliding out the pins and lifting the door free. Have someone hold the door as you remove the pins.

2. Remove the hinges. If in good condition, set them aside to be used on the new door.

3. Lay out the old door as a pattern, and place the new door directly on top of the old door. Using the old door as a guideline, trim the bottom of the door if necessary to make sure it is the same height as the old one. Use a fine tooth saw to trim the door.

4. Create mortises in the new door -- mortises are the area on the edge of the door that is carved out for the hinge. Using the old door as a pattern, mark the new door where hinge mortises should go. Now use the actual old hinge to outline the exact placement of the mortise.

5. Using a very sharp wood chisel, score the outline of the mortise to a depth equal to that of the hinge. Chisel away the excess wood, and use the door hinge to check for proper depth. Once the proper depth is achieved, reattach the door hinge with wood screws.

6. Install the knob using the template and instructions that come with it. Use the same mortising technique described above to install a new strike plate, if needed.

7. Hang the door and replace the pins. Check for proper fit, and trim the door further if you need to.

Exterior Doors

The procedure for installing an exterior door is virtually the same for an interior door with a few exceptions.

First, you might want a deadbolt and a peephole for security purposes. Both options come with detailed instructions for installation; you can purchase either at any home improvement store. Second, make sure a new exterior wood door is properly painted, stained or sealed to prevent moisture warping and damage.

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and

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