How to hang a door – A STEP BY STEP GUIDE

Hanging a door is not difficult if you follow our guidelines. You could save yourself around $100 per door

Step 1 Prepare 

Materials you will need before you start

  • A Door of the correct size or as close as you can get. A wooden panel door or a modern pressed door (like the cheap panel door replicas)
  • Three 3″ hinges (“3 (75mm) butt hinges or loose pin equivalent)
  • Latch (tubular latches are cheap)
  • Handle (knob or handle r)
  • Wooden door stops (the wood section that the door shuts against)

Tools you will need to hang your door

  • Pencil, I like to use 2B 
  • Marking gauge (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Door stand or sawhorse
  • Hammer
  • Nail punch
  • Screwdriver or a battery driver (Pozi and Flat)
  • Saw to cut the door to length
  • Hand plane or an electric plane to trim the door to a width
  • Sharp Knife such as a Stanley knife(box knife)
  • 20mm (¾”) sharp chisel or router depending on your type of hinge
  • Set of spade wood cutting drill bits (13mm 20mm 25mm)
  • Set of wood drill bits
  • Hinge drill bit (optional)
  • A door lifting wedge

What side should I hang my door?

  • What side of the wall is your light switch? Your door must open on the side of the light switch so hang the door on its hinges on the opposite side.
  • Do you want your door to open against a wall or into open space?
  • If you hang a door into an existing opening you may want to hang it on the same side as the old door. Evidence of the old hinges should be obvious.

 Do a visual check of your door opening and floor

  • Is your door opening Square?
  • Have you got a floor covering if so allow for it in the door length?

It is probably a good idea to learn the components of an internal door. I’ve put together this little video to explain what each part of the door is so you can easily understand the rest of this step-by-step guide.

Ok, so you have chosen to use one of those hollow lightweight doors. Such as the Colonial panel door which is not really a panel door but a pressed hardboard door with a honeycomb cardboard Centre.  I’m not locked on these tools because quite frankly they’re so cheap and also they’re so easy to fit and they are pretty stable. Personally I like to have a door that I feel that there was some resistance there and that they feel substantial. These hollow doors are a little bit flimsy. But if you have decided to use a hollow budget colonial style door then so be it but there are some things you need to know. These doors have a right way round it might not be obvious when looking at them from the outside but inside the door, there are extra pieces of timber aka the ‘lock block’.  Also on the opposite side of the loch block, there’s likely to be a heavier strip of wood. This strip of wood is where you’ll be fixing your hinges. 

The lock block inside your new door is usually positioned in the centre between the top and bottom.  This is where you install your lock mechanism such as a barrel latch. 

Once you have located the position of your lock block write the letter l on the jam so you don’t make a mistake later on.  Remember your hinges will be installed on the opposite edge of your lock block. 

Step 2 Let’s Start to hang your door together

In this exercise, I will assume you have bought a door from a popular DIY store. It will be pressed hardboard Door with a colonial panel pattern. I have chosen this style of the door because these are very light and easy to fit.

Offer your door to the opening, does it fit the opening or does it need trimming?

  1. Great, it fits perfectly then go to the hinge fitting section of this step-by-step guide.
  2. The door is slightly too big and requires some fitting. follow the next steps

Step 3 Trimming the height of your new door

Tools required: tape measure, pencil, square, possibly a bevel, saw and sandpaper.

For the process of trimming your door, a door lifting wedge will make your life a lot easier. you can buy these or you can just make your own. the idea behind the door lifting wedge is that you can place the wedge under the bottom as your door put your foot on it and it will lift the door to the head of your door lining.  

The door lining is the piece of wood that lines the door opening and this is where you will be screwing your hinges.

  1. First measure the height of the door allowing for any carpet or tiles
  2. Transfer this measurement to your door measuring from the top of your door so you can trim the bottom. This is assuming that your door opening is at 90 degrees Square. If your door opening is not square you will need to transfer the angle to the top of the door before you cut the bottom. A tool called a Bevel will make angle finding much easier.
  3. Assuming your door opening is Square

Step 4, Install the door hinges into Door Hinge Mortise

Tools required: square, pencil, knife, sharp chisel, screwdriver, bradawl or pilot drill bit.

This step is my preferred thing to do next in my experience it helps with the trimming of the width. This method helps if working on your own.

I’m assuming that you are using 75 mm 3-inch butt hinges. If you’re using French-style drop on hinges check out my video on how to chop in French hinges.

If you are using either standard 3-inch butt hinges, loose pin butt hinges or even drop on butt hinges the process is the same for all.

Before you can store your hinges you need to put a lead on your door. What mean by a lead on your door is a very slight angle to the edge of your door. this angle is put on the door with a hand plane. The lead needs to be higher to the hinge Edge and fall away to the closing Edge. Putting a lead on a door will help prevent binding and will give you a very neat fit. 

If you choose not to put a lead on the door then you will need to allow at least 3mm all around the door. 

  1. Mark hinge position on the door, a simple pencil mark depicting the top of each hinge will suffice
  2. Place open hinge up to Mark upside down so the knuckle locates to the hinged edge of the door.
  3. For ease of marking place a temporary screw to hold the hinge in place.
  4. Use Stanley knife to mark around the hinge. I use a knife instead of a pencil as it gets close to the hinge and is more accurate.
  5. Do this process for all 3 hinges
  6. Check that you are happy with the hinge position before proceeding.
  7. Remove any hinges and put to one side but to hand
  8. Using a sharp chisel and mallet cut around the hinge with the bevel of the chisel facing inwards. Short precise taps of the chisel with the mallet are best. 
  9. Now remove material within the scribed cuts. Short multiple impacts 10mm apart as to cut the grain.
  10. Remove loose material with your chisel from the edge.
  11. Offer hinge to the new recess and check it is flush. Too deep the door will bind and too shallow the door will be happy. All good? Then let’s carry on.
  12. Screw each hinge to the recesses using your screwdriver and screws. A pilot holes easy to screw or use a bradawl. You can purchase a hinge centring drill.
  13. You now have three hinges installed to your door

Cutting the Door Hinge Mortise, like any new project you first need to get your tools together. Here I am going to cut the hinge recess with hand tools. 

You will need:

  • 20mm chisel
  • Mallet
  • Marking knife
  • Pencil

I like to first screw the hinge to the door edge in position. Up against the knuckle and upside down.

Using a marking knife cut around the hinge paying attention to keep close to the hinge. Cut from the corners to the edge being careful not to slip.

Take your nice freshly sharpened firmer or bevel chisel and follow the cut line to the depth of your door butt hinge.

With you chisel make hinge deep cuts across the door within the marked area. 

Remove those cuts first with the back of the chisel. They should just break away.

Using a chisel pare away the wood so the hinge can lay flat in the hinge mortise.

So to allow for the hinge to fit to the edges of the hinge slot snug. Clean the edges with a chisel. Remember the load of the door is supported by the edges of the hinge slot or recess, the screw’s job is to hold the hinge into the hinge slot.

The pilot hole through the hinges with a bradawl or hinge centring drill. It is important to centre the screws drive the hinge home.

Screw the hinges to the door. If using slotted screws it is nice to align the screws if possible.

Below is a video of how I chop in a hinge mortise for an English butt hinge with hand tools.

You have a few options on how you can install your hinges into the edge of your door. You could use a router but in this video, I show you how to install hinges using a sharp chisel.

Just for the purpose of your information, I have included a few videos on the different types of hinges available in France and the United Kingdom. The video below explains the difference between a French door hinge and an English butt hinge.

In this video, I’ll explain how to install a French-style door hinge using a router.  I hope in this video that you can appreciate the simplicity and speed of installing French-style door hinges using a plunge router and hinge jig.

In case you prefer to use traditional hand tools to chop in your hinges I have prepared this video. In this video, I will show you how to install all round ended French door hinges using simple tools.

Step 5, Chop-in hinges to door lining or frame

Tools required: a pencil, knife, sharp chisel, screwdriver, bradawl or pilot drill bit.

The process of marking the hinge positions is transferring the hinge positions on the door to the door lining. If you have a spare change or one from another door that needs to be home add that to your list. the hinge will help you Mark the hinges on the door lining similarly to how you did on the door. If you do not have a spare hinge remove one temporary from the door.

  1. Measure the hinge positions on the door from the top. Hinge positions should be measured from the top of the door. Do not measure between the hinges as you will get an Accumulative error. 
  2. Allow a 2mm gap for the clearance at the top of the door.
  3. Transfer hinge positions and mark the door lining or frame.
  4. Offer a spare hinge to the mark as you did on the door.
  5. Place a temporary screw to aid marking 
  6. Cut around hinge with a knife
  7. Repeat chopping out of hinges as you did on the door for each hinge.

Step 6, Install the door for trimming

Tools required: pencil, screwdriver, bradawl or pilot drill bit.

This is not the final installation but purely to trim the door accurately. This temporary installation of the door will allow you to mark exactly the size of the door to fit the hole. Remember we have cut the door to length or height but we have not yet up or trim the door to make the exact required width. this method isn’t necessarily the traditional method but in my experience, it makes the job a lot easier. if you are on the door in this fashion it doesn’t matter if the door lining isn’t perfectly plumb. If there’s a curve in the door lining purely measuring the door only allow for this.

  1. Position door into the hole at 90 degrees to the wall, you should have access to the hinges.
  2. Use your lifting wedge to lift or to the top.
  3. Place a 2 mm packer between the door and the door lining.
  4. Drive one screw into each hinge 
  5. Remove the lifting wedge and the packer
  6. The door should swing happily on its hinges
  7. To help you hold the door you will need a temporary handle. A long screw on the closing side of the door in the place where the handle will be will suffice. Don’t worry as the screw hole will be hidden by the door handle.
  8. Stand inside the opening and pull the door to you while being armed with a pencil.
  9. Inspect around the edge of the door to see if the opening has any obstructions.
  10. Using your very sharp pencil run a line around the door using the door lining as a guide. This will show you exactly where you need to trim the door. If by any act of God that your door fits snug as a bug in a rug then you’re done and you now need to look at installing your door stops and new door handles. 

Step 7, Trimming the shut side of the door

Tools required: Sawhorse or Door stand, Handplane or Power Plane, Circular saw if you have a lot to remove first.

  1. Place door in stand on the edge
  2. Using a hand or electric plane remove wood until you reach the line. 
  3. Put on a leading-edge as you did on the hung side
  4. Refit the door into the door opening
  5. Inspect around the edge and check that the gap is equal
  6. Check the door opens without obstruction
  7. Close the door and see if it bounces back if it does the door is binding on the hinge side. Check that the screw heads are not proud. 

Step 8, Install door stops

Tools required: pencil, saw, hammer, nail punch.

The door stops provide the door somewhere to close against. They also prevent line of sight.

The door stops come in different shapes and sizes but fundamentally they do the same job.

Two common nails styles are Oval Brad and Lost Head and used for doorstops. 

  1. Hold door closed on the top side
  2. Nail the top (head) stop the line, do not nail the nails home at this stage.
  3. Nail jam stops starting from the top and using a door as a guide nail them towards the bottom.
  4. Open and close the door to test
  5. If there is not binding hammer the nails the rest of the way home
  6. Use a nail punch to drive nails below the surface

Ok so now you know how to hang a door. Maybe it turned out perfect or maybe you might need to do a little bit of tweaking to make the door fit absolutely perfectly.  You might just need to tweak the hinges little bit or reposition the door stops but on the whole, you’ve got the door in its hole and it opens and closes. 

So what do I do now that I have the door fixed into the door lining on its hinges?  Well, I am sure you have already worked out that you want to install some door handles or knobs so obviously that must be your next port of call. We haven’t got into the details of door handles in this tutorial but we will be in another article soon so please check back soon to see our new additions.   Please check out our other tutorials on the website. 

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