Installing a steel entry door. New Construction:

Installing A Steel Entry Door

In This Article:

The rough opening is prepared and the pre-hung entry door is tilted into place, shimmed and fastened.

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Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic to Intermediate) Time Taken: About An Hour

By , Editor


While this project may be a tiny garden shed, conventional residential construction methods were used so the door installation should be similar to that of a 2x4 framed house.

Shed before installing door. This was my starting point. The roof was complete and I had applied 15 pound felt (tar paper) to the wall sheathing.

I wrapped the felt around the door and window openings and stapled it tight.


A friend gave me this old door when he replaced it with a newer door. When we removed this door, the brick molding trim fell apart.

So I made new trim from Azek cellular PVC.

Entry door placed on utility trailer.


(View of bottom of door, showing end of trim.)

Instead of using a PVC brick molding trim, I ripped 3 inch wide pieces of Azek for the side casing.


The top casing was a 3 inch wide casing ripped on a 10-degree bevel, with a "lookout" board attached to the top. Custom casing installed on entry door.


Utility trailer used a rolling workbench for door installation. I used my small utility trailer as a rolling workbench. This allowed me to easily roll the door from my garage to the shed where it was being installed.


Preparations For Installing A New Door:

Installing shims on rough opening. The first step in door installation is to create a perfectly plumb surface to so the hinge side of the door jamb can be attached.

To create this plumb surface I normally fasten 3 sets of shims to the rough opening.


I used my best 4-foot level to establish the thickness of the middle set of shims.


Then I established the thickness of the upper set of shims.


These 3 shims (red arrows) are the main contact points between the door jamb and the wall framing, so it's important that they be directly behind the door hinges, otherwise the jamb will flex when fastened to the stud. Shims tacked to side of door opening to make plumb surface.


I trimmed off the shims on the outside of the door opening.


More Door Preparations:

To seal the gap under a pre-hung door, caulk is normally applied.

But I decided to try something different... I glued a piece of foam sill seal insulation to the underside of the door sill.

Foam sill-seal stapled to underside of door threshold.


Installing The Door... Without A Helper

My outlook is: Why carry something when I can roll it. When I use a trailer dolly under the tongue of my cheapo utility trailer, it becomes an oversize wagon.

First I flipped the door over so the door trim was face down across the sides of the trailer.

Then I rolled the trailer in front of the door opening in the shed, being careful to align the door with the opening.


I slid the door off the trailer and placed the lowest part of the door jambs in the rough opening.


Tilting door into place in rough opening. I tilted the door upwards into the opening.


I firmly pushed the door and jamb towards the the hinge side of the rough opening (the right-hand side in this case).

I set the level against the jamb, made sure it was plumb, and drove in two 2½" finish nails to keep the door from falling over.

A pneumatic nailer makes this easier, but ordinary galvanized finish nails work too, even when working solo.

Nailing entry door to framing.


Then I nailed through the jamb near the middle hinge, and also at the bottom hinge.


With the door partly fastened, I climbed in through the window so I could install shims on the striker side of the door.

By looking at the gap between the door and the jamb, I could tell that the striker side jamb was too high.

This seemed logical, since I had glued that strip of foam sill seal to the bottom of the sill. The weight of the door compressed the foam on the hinge side, but not on the striker side (since all of the weight is carried by the hinge side).

So I forced two shims (red arrow) into the space above the head jamb. I measured the length across each diagonal and kept increasing the shim thickness until the diagonal measurements were the same.


Normally I use two shims in opposite directions, so their outer surfaces are parallel.

If the framing is warped, I will use one or more shims pointed in the same direction, to create a surface that is parallel to the door jamb. This can be a real pain in the neck.


To support the door jamb around the striker, I placed pairs of shims above and below the door knob hole.

I also placed shims at the bottom of the jamb.


Back Outdoors...

Once the striker side of the door was shimmed in a few places, I nailed the jamb at the top...


... and I nailed the side jamb above and below the striker area.


A couple of nails at the bottom completed the basic fastening of the door.


Then I climbed in through the window and removed the screws that held the temporary cross-bar to the door jambs.


Finally I could open the door.


But Wait, There's More:

To fully support the weight of the door, I drove in two 3" flat-head wood screws through the inboard holes in the upper door hinge.

I did this to the bottom hinge too. Many entry doors instruct the installer to drive long screws through the hinges into the wall framing.


After this step I installed more shims on the striker side, just to make sure the striker jamb would stay straight. I placed pairs of shims every 10 inches, starting at the top. You can see these shims in the picture below. Then I drove nails through the jamb at each set of shims.

Once the jambs were nailed to the rough opening, I nailed the door casing to the wall. I used my finish nailer with 2½" nails, but these aren't the best fasteners because pull out too easily.

For better holding power I drove in several 2½" stainless steel ring-shank siding nails through the casing. These nails sucked the casing in tight against the wall.

(Note: Stainless steel nails aren't necessary... galvanized siding nails would be okay.)

After the door was installed and the casing nailed tight, I applied a bead of siliconized acrylic latex caulk between the outer edge of the casing and the tar paper on the wall. This should help prevent water from getting behind the casing.

The completed entry door installation.

Once the window is installed in the opening on the other wall, this project will be ready for siding.


Door Installation Completed:

I later removed the door (by pulling out the hinge pins) and painted it with two coats of 100 per cent acrylic exterior paint.


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Pneumatic Finish Nailer
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Air Compressor
  • 4-Foot Level

Materials Used:

  • Pre-Hung Steel Entry Door, 36"
  • Finish Nails, 2½"
  • Shims
  • Foam Sill-Seal Insulation
  • Wood Screws, 3"
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Written November 9, 2007