Garage with new entry door. Garage Makeover:

Replacing An Old Entry Door
With A New Out-Swinging Door

In This Article: Related Articles:
Skill Level: 3 Time Taken: About 2 Hours

By , Editor


Last summer I helped some friends remodel the garage behind their 1898 Victorian home. We have not yet been able to determine the age of the garage, I would estimate it was built in the 1920's or 1930's. Even though it was built as a "two car" garage, this building was small, only 18 feet wide and 20 feet long. Two wagon garage was more like it.

One of the biggest problems with the garage was the entry door. It was junk. Plus it was too narrow, only about 30 inches wide. After making some measurements of their car, we realized that a typical in-swinging door would hit the car bumper, making it darned near impossible to get out of the garage with a vehicle inside. So we decided that an out-swinging door would be the best solution.

One unusual feature of this garage is that it was built with 2x6 studs at 24" on center. I later discovered that the siding was redwood. The original builders put some money into this garage, even if it was tiny. 

The old door was pathetic. It appeared to be an interior door. One of the solid-wood panels was missing and covered over with a scrap of Masonite.

Ironically, the previous owner was a local builder. All he had done to this garage was reshingle the roof, update some wiring, and add some more concrete to the floor slab.

The missing paint to the right of the door was a result of my experimentation with paint removal techniques.

Old door on garage that was falling apart.

I suspect that the previous owner didn't believe that the garage could be saved, as it was leaning badly and just looked generally nasty. But I knew better.

The view from the inside was about as bad as the outside view.


The original door had a wide casing.

I removed the casing with a flat pry bar.

Once the casing was removed I blew the door off the hinges. This could be an outlet for pent-up aggression for some guys... you know... kicking in a door like they do on cop shows on TV.

But I know that can be injurious to the body, especially when the door bounces back at you. So I took the easy way and just unscrewed the hinges. I tried removing the hinge pins (the easiest way) but they wouldn't come out.

With the casing removed from the outside, I used my reciprocating saw (with a fine-toothed metal-cutting blade) to snip the nails that held the door jamb to the framing. I just ran the saw from the bottom to the top.

I forced a pry bar between the jamb and the framing to prevent the blade from binding.


This photo is kinda hard to visualize.

Here I'm removing the old door jamb by tilting it outwards. Since I didn't have any helpers at the time, this was awkward to photograph. (The homeowners were away on vacation.)


View from the inside:

The original framing had just a 2x6 laying flat for a header. The ends of the header were just nailed into the studs, rather than resting on the ends of trimmer studs.

Since this door was on the gable end of the garage, there wasn't any significant weight bearing on the wall over the door (just the weight of the wall). But I still prefer something resembling a proper header, just in case there is some change to the garage in future years.


Making A Wider Opening:

Since the new door was wider and taller than the original, I removed the old header by cutting the nails with a reciprocating saw.

Warning: If this was a load-bearing wall, the weight of the roof structure would need to be supported by some temporary bracing, such as seen in this article about cutting a large rough opening.


On the right-hand side of the door (when viewed from the outside) I used the reciprocating saw to snip the nails that held the siding to the double studs.

Note that on most buildings you will not find the exterior siding simply nailed directly to the studs, rather there typically is a layer of sheathing (solid wood on older buildings, fiber-board, plywood or OSB on newer buildings) between the finished siding and the framing.


I cut the nails between the top plate and the studs, then I made a similar cut at the bottom of the studs.


New Framing:

On one side of the doorway I installed new 2x6 studs, and then a triple-2x6 header.

In the header there are two pieces of ½" plywood spacers between the 2x6's to create the 5½" thickness.

Note the overhanging siding. This is a result of making the new rough opening about 6 inches wider than the old opening.


I supported the other end of the header on a steel angle clip.


I sort of cheated here. I don't normally support the end of a header this way. Only because this is a gable-end wall (and therefore not supporting much of the weight of the roof) would this be even remotely acceptable.

I would not recommend copying this method, unless first getting the approval of a building inspector.

The usual approach to supporting a header would involve cutting the end off of the left-hand stud of those doubled-up studs. On this project making that cut would be rather time consuming, but certainly not impossible.

I nailed the heck out of this connection. All the red arrows point to fasteners that are supporting the end of this header. 

There are a couple of 3" Deck Mate deck screws in the end of the header (which helped hold the wood in place as I worked on it) as well as several 16d galvanized Ardox (spiral or twisted) framing nails.

The nails in the metal framing brackets are all 8d joist hanger nails. The larger angled bracket is what makes this framing method even remotely acceptable.

If I had access to the outside face of the studs I would have used another of these wrap-around angle brackets.

I count at least 12 nails that are in "shear loading". I recall that 8d nails have around 1,000 pounds of shear strength, so this method ought to be able to withstand about 12,000 pounds of load. The entire garage probably doesn't weigh that much.

One potentially serious drawback of using steel angle brackets here is that they could get in the way of some nails used to attach the door jamb or door casing. Since this is a garage, there will be no casing on the inside.

Once the rough opening was completed, I put a long wood-cutting blade in the reciprocating saw and cut off the overhanging siding.


The new rough opening.

I nailed the freshly-cut ends of the siding to the new studs, using 2" hot-dipped galvanized ring-shank siding nails.


Installing The New Door:

On the hinge side of the opening I placed three pairs of shims.

For the top pair, I just arbitrarily chose a thickness of about ½". For the middle shims (shown here) I adjusted the thickness to create a plumb line with the first shims.


And I also nailed on a third pair of shims at the bottom. Since the longest level I own is only 4 feet long, I had to do this in two stages.

I place the shims so they will be close to the door hinges.

Preparations for installing a door include checking the sill with a short level. If the sill isn't level then some shims would need to be placed under the metal door sill later on.

While I checked the striker side of the framing with the level, I don't really care if it's not plumb. 

If the hinge side isn't plumb the door could close by itself, or it could swing open by itself if left slightly ajar. If the hinge side is installed perfectly plumb (and there are two directions to check for plumb, only one of which I can control right now) then the door won't swing by itself, unless the wind moves it.


At this point I placed the new door in the rough opening. Of course I couldn't easily photograph myself doing that, so I had to hold the door in place with a 2x4 so I could step back and snap a picture.

Note how there are two thin boards spanning across the door. These hold the jambs together during installation. I did remove those boards earlier so I could unscrew the door hinges and pre-paint the door in my shop. Then I re-installed them with small deck screws.


Once the door was plumb, level and square I drove one long galvanized finishing nail through the door casing (on the hinge side at the top) to hold the door in place.


I walked around to the inside and drove some 3" deck screws through the hinge side jamb, into the framing. I installed one screw at each of the three shim locations.

Some carpenters use 16d finish nails here, but I prefer deck screws if the finished appearance isn't critical. With screws I can make adjustments later.


With the door placed in the opening I checked all around the perimeter with an accurate level. 


I had to place a couple of shims under the metal sill.


Besides checking for being plumb, it's important to make sure the striker jamb isn't bowed, or else the gap between the door and jamb will be uneven.

For a final check I measured the diagonals with a tape measure to ensure that the door jamb was square.

I nailed the casing with 16d galvanized finish nails. I used about 8 nails on each side, plus a couple across the top. 

To prevent splitting of the wood, I pre-drilled holes for the nails near the ends, such as this one.


The door after the casing was nailed. It's still not completely fastened, however.


I drove a couple of short deck screws through the holes provided in the sill. Some doors don't provide these holes.


On the striker side I positioned four sets of shims and drove a long deck screw through the jamb.

The four shim/fastening locations are: near the top, near the bottom, just above the door knob and just below the knob.

Also, the door came with a couple of long screws to be driven into the top and middle hinge plates. Those hinges were missing one screw each, so the extra-long screws could be driven into the framing after the door was installed. I've seen some builders ignore those screws, only to have the door sag after a few months.

Once all the fasteners were in, I installed the lockset and deadbolt.

A picture of the door taken a few weeks later, after I had used a special power paint scraper to un-paint the siding. Note the new window and window trim


During the repainting work I applied a bead of caulk between the door casing and the siding.


The new door helped make the garage look and function like a new building. 

What an improvement.




Tools Used:

  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • 2-foot Level
  • 4-foot Level


Materials Used:

  • Entry Door, 36" x 80", Outswinging
  • 2x6 Studs
  • 3" Deck Mate Screws
  • 16d Galvanized Spiral Nails
  • 8d Galvanized Joist Hanger Nails
  • Shims


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Written February 3, 2003