Gary Katz of The Katz Roadshow has been giving live carpentry tutorials since 2003- and his experience has led him to stick to two firm rules to reduce callbacks on exterior door installation. To increase success, he recommends 1) a quality door and 2) a proven installation method.
Katz prefers doors from fiberglass door manufacturer Plastpro. "They're the only company I know of that makes fiberglass doors with composite top and bottom rails," he says. "That means you don't have to paint the rails and moisture can't work its way into the door."
He says the doors have proven long-term durability. "I've had Plastpro fiberglass doors on my house for nine years and they look as good as the day I installed them."
That still leaves installation. "I see lots of quality doors installed in ways that guarantee problems," says Katz.
The problem is that builders typically don’t require every worker to install every door the same way. That's a mistake. "Most of what crews do these days is repetitive," says Katz. "To be efficient you need a system for doing everything."
His solution is a paint-by-numbers type installation system that ensures doors will be installed more quickly, will open and close smoothly, will sit firmly against the stop, and won't have hinge bind or other problems. "Following it will double your production and almost zero out your callbacks," he says.
Best of all, the system doesn't require much skill. "It's simple enough for even an inexperienced carpenter to follow," he says.
Katz's name for this system is "The First Five Fasteners." It requires the installer to:
1. Use a level to check the floor at the base of the door opening.
2. If necessary, put a shim on the low side of the opening. This will raise the threshold on that end so it sits perfectly level.
3. Drive the first five fasteners in the spots and in the sequence shown in the drawing, making small adjustments to the jamb at each step.
It's critical to drive the fasteners in the right order. "If you put them in out of sequence you can't properly adjust the jamb," says Katz. He suggests that builders create a document outlining the steps that installers and job supervisors can access from the field as a reminder and as a training aid for new installers.
This system also requires that builders order exterior doors bald—that is, without pre-attached trim or brickmold. It's the only way to make the proper jamb adjustments.
Of course, a threshold that's shimmed up on one end will need support in the middle. However, Katz insists that every exterior door be installed over a pad strip made from a rot-resistant material like PVC or fiber cement. The installer can level the pad strip then put the pan and door on top of it. This may require door openings to be framed 3/4 in. taller than called for in the plans.
Katz has trained several builder crews to use the system. Lindsay Cole at Cape Associates builders in Eastham, Mass. says the company hired him on three separate occasions to train their field staff of almost 100 tradespeople. "It has been a significant investment, but well worth it," she says. "Specifically, the training segment on door installation helped us reduce warranty calls and saved us money in the long run."
For more detail, Katz has an 18-minute YouTube video in which he demonstrates the five-fastener method using a Plastpro exterior door.
Originally Published by Builder Online: