Installing a new interior door

If you are looking a replacing a damaged hollow-core or timber interior door, fitting a new door is easier than you think. This project will take approximately 2 hours, excluding painting. You can buy hollow-core or wood interior doors at your local Builders or hardware store from around R300 upwards, depending on the quality and style.



Bear in mind that these doors come in a standard size and are not one size fits all. Door heights and widths differ and most doors will invariably need to be cut down to fit your door opening.


1. You will need a screwdriver or drill / driver to remove the door from its hinges. Have someone on hand to assist you by holding the door when you remove the final screws. Once removed you can transfer the measurements from this door to the new door for cutting to the correct height and width.
2. Mark for the height and width, as well as the location of the hinges, lock mechanism, openings for the handle and keyhole. Remember to take into consideration any height or width that needs to be removed when marking for hinges and lock mechanism.



On some budget doors only one side of the door has two support battens running vertically. These battens are where the lock mechanism is mounted, so make sure that the door is marked right side up for the lock mechanism to be mounted where the double battens are placed.




3. Place the new door on a couple of workbenches or sawhorses and use a jigsaw with rough-cut blade to remove excess at the bottom of the new door; sand smooth with 120- and then 180-grit sandpaper.




4. To cut the door down to size you will need to use a circular saw or jigsaw. If it is only a small amount that needs to be removed you can easily cut this away from the bottom of the door. However, if more than 30 centimetres need to be removed, cut equally from the top and bottom. The reason for this is that some doors only have a 32 centimetre pine batten or strip at the top and bottom, and cutting too much away will also cut away this support batten.



If you do need to cut away more to make the door fit, you can buy a length of 32 x 32mm PAR pine to replace the batten at the bottom or top of the door. Cut the batten to fit into the space, apply Ponal wood glue inside the door cavity and use a hammer to tap the batten into position.



If you only need to make minor adjustments for the new door to fit, make use of a planer. You can set a planer from 0.5mm up to 2mm to shave off small amounts of excess wood. Most hire shops stock a planer that you can hire for a morning if you don't already own one.




5. Having marked the location for the hinges, use a sharp wood chisel to mark the outline and to chip away a 3mm deep rebate in the door for mounting the hinges. This ensure the hinge is flush with the surface of the door and will not interfere with opening and closing the door. Sand smooth to remove any rough edges.



6. Using the marks transferred onto the new door use a 16mm spade bit to drill out for the lock mechanism.




Place the 16mm spade bit against the lock mechanism so that you know how deep to drill the holes. If using a new lock and handle mechanism use this as a guide for the correct drilling depth and for marking the holes on the door sides for the handle and keyhole.




7. Use the 16mm spade bit in your drill/driver to drill holes along the length of the marked guide. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out debris as you work to ensure you have the correct depth.



8. Use a sharp wood chisel and hammer to remove the remaining timber. Place the wood chisel along the edge of your drawn guide to mark the outline for a neat edge and continue to remove wood inside the opening.



Continue to use the wood chisel to clean out the opening, test fitting the lock mechanism as you work. The mechanism should slide in and out easily.



You will also need to use the wood chisel to chip a 3mm rebate around the opening so that the lock mechanism sits flush with the surface of the door once in place.



9. You will also use a 16mm spade bit to drill holes for the handle and keyholes on the door sides.



Check that the handle and keyholes are perfectly aligned, or make any necessary adjustments before fastening the hardware in place.




10. Now you can screw the old or new lock mechanism firmly in place. Insert the spindle, position the handle on top of this and secure in place with screws.


Paint the door before re-hanging. Let the paint dry and then have a helper hold the door in place while you attach the door to the frame hinges.

Janice Anderssen


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