• Share:
How to Hang a Door

Learn how to hang any type of interior door. We'll show you foolproof tips and techniques to help you do a great job even if you're a beginning carpenter.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to Hang a Door

Learn how to hang any type of interior door. We'll show you foolproof tips and techniques to help you do a great job even if you're a beginning carpenter.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Step 1: Overview

Hanging a door correctly is one of the most satisfying jobs in the home improvement world, but it's often the most challenging. Unless it's installed correctly, your door can have uneven gaps along the jamb, or it can bind or not even latch.

In this article, we'll show you foolproof tips and techniques that'll give you great results every time. All you need are simple carpentry tools and some basic home improvement skills and tools to easily master the techniques. Allow about an hour and a half for your first door, and once you get the hang of it, your next door will go in twice as fast.

When you buy your door, pick up a package of wood shims and 4d, 6d and 8d finish nails. Also get a straight 7-ft. 2x4 and cut another 2x4 the width of your opening (Photo 1) that are both straight as you sight down the edge. Since installing trim is part of the door installation, purchase some matching door trim and be sure you've got a miter saw to cut it. You'll also need to pick up a lockset for the door even though we won't cover the installation in this article.

Pro Tips for Hanging Doors

  1. An accurate level is crucial for a good installation. Check it by laying it on a flat surface. Memorize the bubble's position. Then flip the level end for end and check the bubble. If the bubble doesn't settle in the exact spot, find an accurate level.
  2. Check the length of your prehung door jambs. They may be longer than you need. You may have to trim both sides to minimize the space under the door. In most cases, the door should clear the floor by 1/2 in.
  3. If you're setting your door into adjoining rooms that'll be carpeted later, you can hold both jamb sides 3/8 in. above the floor and avoid having to trim your doors.

Step 2: Check your rough opening carefully Before Starting

In this article, we'll focus on installing standard prehung doors. These have a door jamb that's 4-9/16 in. wide and are made to fit into a 2x4 wall that's 4-1/2 in. thick. This gives just enough of a fudge factor to have the jamb a bit proud of the wall surface on each side and to make up for any irregularities in the trimmer studs of the walls. Most openings will be about 82 in. high for standard doors, so that's what we'll focus on. If your wall is thicker or your opening is shorter, you'll have other concerns we won't cover here.

Before you order your door, check the width of your opening. It should be 2 to 2-1/2 in. wider than the door. This extra space gives you room to fit the jambs and the shims into the opening to hang the door. If your rough opening is 32 in., get a 30-in. prehung door. Also check the vertical sides of the rough opening to make sure they're reasonably plumb. Openings that have a trimmer stud out of plumb more than 3/8 in. from top to bottom will make it nearly impossible to install the door. It would be somewhat like trying to put a rectangle into a parallelogram. Small variations from plumb are quite common, however. Checking both sides and getting familiar with any problems with the opening will give you an idea of how much and where to shim the jambs later.

Most installation problems occur because the floor isn't level under the doorway. If the floor slopes slightly and the jamb isn't trimmed to compensate, your latch won't line up. You must check the floor with an accurate level as shown in Photo 1.

For complete directions, just follow our step-by-step photos and instructions.

Scribing the door jamb

How Do You Fit the Jamb to Floors of Different Heights?

Cut a 1-ft. long strip of 1/4-in. plywood the same width as your door jamb. Drop it to the high side of the floor, tack it in place, set your scribe and mark the contour of the floor onto the plywood. Remove the plywood, cut the shape with a jigsaw and transfer the shape to the bottom of the jamb. Cut along your mark with a jigsaw. Do this for each side of the door. If your transition is more than 1/2 in., you may need to trim the bottom of the door as well.

Video: How to Hang a Door

Travis Larson, an editor for The Family Handyman, shows you how to remove a door and hang a new one or rehang the old one.

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Miter saw
    • Cordless drill
    • Level
    • Jigsaw
    • Scribing tool

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Shims
    • 2 x 4
    • 4d, 6d, 8d finish nails
    • Interior door and trim

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 13 of 13 comments
Show per page: 20   All

October 14, 3:58 PM [GMT -5]

I have hung many doors in my time ( I am a remodeling contractor) An 1 tip I will give on this is, don't plumb your hinge side jamb by putting your level on the hinges themselves. Actually open the door and plumb on the jamb itself. Also by doing it this way you can see if the jamb is straight, as you will see gaps between the level and the jamb. Then shim any areas as needed to straighten out the jamb.

September 12, 9:25 AM [GMT -5]

Has anyone else tried the door installation brackets they sell at home depot for beginners, instead of using shims? I seen KyleOrton's comment below and i felt the need to respond by saying i used them and I thought they where awesome. No shimming and i had the door up in around 10 minutes. I hung 1 solid core door and 2 hollow. The solid core, i replaced a hinge screw in each hinge with a longer screw. Install was plenty strong enough. Im guessing KyleOrton didnt add the long hinge screws that the manfacturer suggests?

Orange Bag in the door aisle. In my mind, they where worth every penny.

January 27, 11:42 AM [GMT -5]

I found this article because I had tried the Quick Door Hanger spamming below and it didn't work at all for me. I was hanging a solid core door, but these just aren't up to the task with the weight.

I still needed some pointers as it was my first time hanging a door by myself and the tips in this article were perfect. It's dead on and much easier than fiddling with brackets. Thanks!

January 27, 9:44 AM [GMT -5]

Hanging a door with shims can really be a pain. Especially if it's your first time. I would recommend a bracket system like EZHang for installing doors. It makes the job much faster and easier.

December 27, 9:59 PM [GMT -5]

I tried using the ez hang bracket and it worked out very well because there a bracket for the top of the door jam and the door I was hanging had a large bow in the top.

December 19, 9:17 AM [GMT -5]

This is an outdated method for installing doors. Bracket installation systems are much easier and faster then using shims for beginners. There available at Home Depot in door aisle. Its called the Quick Door Hanger and is the same price as a pack of shims.

November 04, 7:01 PM [GMT -5]

I am a contractor with 25 years of door installation experience. I use a product called EZHang. It's a 7 brackets system for installing doors. You get a quality, sturdy installation when you use it. It really takes 7 brackets to hold the door in place over time, especially heavy doors. The bracket on the top of the door aids in keeping the door from shifting side to side over time.

March 22, 7:29 AM [GMT -5]

Excellent tips

March 01, 9:35 AM [GMT -5]

There is a much easier way of hanging interior doors now. You no longer need to shim or do all the hard work of plumbing(leveling). There is a new product that is available online at the home depots website. Its called the quick door hanger. A beginner can literally hang a door in under 15 minutes with just a level and a power drill using these 5 dollar bracket kits. If you youtube "how to hang a door express products" then click on the quick door hanger video it will tell you all about it. I recommend it to everyone.

October 23, 9:02 PM [GMT -5]

Some of the information is great. I would caution that the boards used in conjuction with the level better be some of the straightest, plumbest things you have ever seen or this method could lead to problems.

September 22, 12:15 PM [GMT -5]

It was great to find this especially since I did hire a contractor who was suppose to do this but due to fraud on his part, I am left to finish the project on my own.

June 02, 11:48 PM [GMT -5]

Great step-by-stpe directions.

April 27, 11:59 AM [GMT -5]

This will be helpful as the maintenance crew messed up my apartment door by painting it on all edges.

+ Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

How to Hang a Door

Please add your comment

Log in to My Account

Log in to enjoy membership benefits from The Family Handyman.

  • Forgot your password?
Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up today for FREE and become part of The Family Handyman community of DIYers.

Member benefits:

  • Get a FREE Traditional Bookcase Project Plan
  • Sign up for FREE DIY newsletters
  • Save projects to your project binder
  • Ask and answer questions in our DIY Forums
  • Share comments on DIY Projects and more!
Join Us Today

Report Abuse

Reasons for reporting post

Free OnSite Newsletter

Get timely DIY projects for your home and yard, plus a dream project for your wish list!

Follow Us