How to Frame a Doorway

Adding or moving an existing doorway can positively affect the flow in the interior of your home. Yet many people avoid this project because they are afraid they do not have the skills to correctly complete the job. If you have basic knowledge of how to use tools and have used a hammer on a few projects, you have all the skill you need. If you are unsure you have the skills required, call a professional. A licensed contractor should easily be able to complete the job.

Before adding a doorway you must verify that the wall you wish to cut into is not a bearing wall. Bearing walls hold more than their own weight, they support the structure of the house. If an interior wall runs parallel to the floor joists and ceiling joists, it is usually not a bearing wall. If an interior wall runs perpendicular to the ceiling joists and is attached to them in the attic it is a bearing wall. Some interior wall that run perpendicular to the ceiling joists are not bearing walls. If you can’t tell by looking in your attic, contact a professional that can tell you.

If the wall where you wish to add a doorway is not a bearing wall then you can proceed. First, choose the door you wish to install. You will need to know the manufacturer’s recommended rough opening dimensions. These dimensions indicate how large the hole in the wall must be after the rough framing has been installed. Add an additional 2 inches to the top and sides to accommodate the rough framing and shimming the door opening. This measurement is how large the opening in the wall must be.

To save yourself work, try to use one of the studs already in place for the doorway. Cut away the drywall from between enough studs to accommodate the hole needed for your new door. You will want to strip it partially away from the studs so that you can add the rough framing. Do this on both sides. Also remove the baseboard from this section of the wall.

Measuring from the floor, cut the studs that are obstructing the hole to the height required for the door that you estimated before beginning. Pry the bottom part of the stud free from the sole plate.

Now you may begin the rough framing. Cut a 2″x4″ to span between the whole studs you have exposed. This is what is called a header. Nail the header to the studs on either side of the door opening, as well as the studs you have cut. Pay particular attention to making a firm attachment to the adjoining studs. Also be sure to use framing nails, any other nail is insufficient for the task.

Cut the sole plate away from the exact size required for the opening, measuring from one of the studs. Pry up the sole plate using a crowbar after cutting it. It is not uncommon to have a piece of sole plate extending beyond the whole studs. Next cut two 2″x4″ that are the height of the floor to the header. Nail these pieces to the header and outside edge of the sole plate to define your rough opening. If you are using an existing stud to define your doorway, the stud you add should be flush with the original. These added studs are called trimmer studs.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding your door. If you have followed these instructions carefully, you should have enough room for shimming. After the new door is installed, carefully patch the wallboard so it meets the new frame. Finally, add trim around the door and make any necessary adjustments to the baseboard.

Pay particular attention to the trim you add. The method of the cuts and pattern should match the rest of the doors. Take a picture of your trim and match it at the home improvement store. If you cannot find it locally, undoubtedly you will be able to match your trim online. Also consider the type of wood if you plan on staining it rather than painting it.

Adding a new door can seem like an arduous task, but can be completed in a weekend. If this is your first framing project, go slowly and be careful to measure as accurately as you can. Also beware if you become uncommonly frustrated. Resume your home improvement project after you have the patience to do it properly. If you find that you cannot complete the project, call a professional or friend with construction knowledge.

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