How to Widen a Frame for an Exterior Door | Plastpro Inc

For homeowners looking to change up an entryway, widening a doorway is an instantly impactful project that can completely change a home’s outward appearance. Elongating an existing opening allows for larger statement-making doors to be used as exterior doors, enhancing both the design elements and curb appeal of an exterior entrance.

A wider frame isn’t just for show, though. Creating that larger opening can increase a home’s accessibility and allow more natural light to enter a home. There are a number of positives that come from widening an existing opening, and it’s the sort of change a homeowner can make themselves.

Required Tools and Materials to Widen an Exterior Door

The basic answer to the question of how to widen an exterior door frame is simple: it’s done with the right tools and building materials.

On the tools front, have the following handy: a utility knife, a drywall knife, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a framing nailer, a sander, a hammer, a sledge hammer, a pry bar, a tape measure, a drill, and a level.

Required materials include lumber in 2-by-4 and 2-by-6, half-inch plywood, wood glue, shims, painting supplies, drywall, and a box of nails.

Also have a pre-hung door that fits the new frame, the door casing, and all required knobs and hardware. Plastpro’s trimmable series of exterior doors can be fitted to non-standard sizing, making them perfect for a unique entryway.

Remember that while it’s safe to assume an exterior wall is also a load-bearing wall, you should still take any precautions necessary before beginning the project. If widening a frame for interior doors, the wall may not be load bearing.

Remove the Old Door

Use the pry bar to remove the casing or side trim from the current door. The goal is to reveal the gap that separates the wall frame from the door jamb. Utilize the reciprocating saw to cut any nails or screws across the top and sides. Remove the screws at the bottom of the door, then use a hammer to pound the top of the door until it’s loose and can be tipped out of the frame. Lift the door out of the opening, then use a utility knife to cut the drywall around the sides of the door six inches in from the frame. Remove the drywall to expose the door frame.

Remove the Old Frame

Grab the pry bar again and use it in tandem with a sledge hammer to remove the frame’s knob studs.

There will be two other studs—one known as the king stud that runs the full length of the rough opening from the floor to the wall’s top plate, and one called the jack stud that runs from the floor to the header bottom. Push these into the door opening and cut them loose with a reciprocating saw, then pry the header from the studs. Do this on the hinge side, and with great care. Use a saw to cut the nails.

Prepping for and Installing the New Door

The new opening should be a half-inch wider than the horizontal measurement of the new door. Measure from the outside of one side of the frame to the outside of the other.

Use the original jack and king studs as guides to cut new studs. Cut 2-by-4 boards to frame the new doorway and secure new studs with wood screws or nails. Install the new header, as well as cripple studs—shorter studs—between the header and the framing top. This creates what’s known as a rough opening that’s ready to accept a new pre-hung door. Use drywall screws to secure drywall.

Now it’s time for a new jamb. Place it at the top of the doorway, then place the side pieces of the new frame. Slip in shims and nail the side jambs in place. Then, use a saw to trim the shim ends so they don’t stick out of the frame. Nail the new casing around the doorway and finish the drywall.

Upgrading Your Exterior Door with Plastpro

Replacing an existing door may seem like a daunting prospect. The costs, the labor, the decision making—it can all be enough to turn a homeowner away from the endeavor, but then they’d miss out on the long-term benefits of an exterior door upgrade. Most new doors are going to provide better perks than the door that’s being replaced, but those positive aspects are further enhanced if the new door is made with fiberglass.

Plastpro’s fiberglass doors are safer, sturdier and more energy efficient than wooden doors, and customization options make Plastpro doors a great fit for a wide variety of architectural styles, design aesthetics and frame sizes. Whether you’re looking for a door to fill an existing opening or you plan to widen your door frame, start your door replacement journey with a Plastpro dealer near you!

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