Installing windows and interior doors

I love the modern windows and prehung interior door packages. Typically, inexpensive homes are built using vinyl siding with vinyl windows and metal doors. Also they have either metal or asphalt roofs depending on the climate.

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These things all matter because they will have to match and coordinate as the exterior finish or siding is put up. Doors and windows come in many varieties and colors.

Metal doors can be painted to coordinate well with siding colors if you can’t find a door that comes in the color you prefer.

Vinyl windows can’t be painted, but white or ivory vinyl will match about anything you can throw onto the walls. You can get solid metal doors or doors with windows depending on your tastes.

You can also get doors in just about any height you want, but the standard size is 6’8”. You have hardwood which is obviously made of wood, you have the paneled door which can be either wood or metal with square panels, and there’s the lighted door which can be either wood or metal, but has glass windows in it. Sliders and French doors are still really popular.


sliding door



The prehung interior door kits come with the jambs, stops, and hinges already mounted so you only have to put them into the rough opening and center them using tapered shims.

Here is a door rough opening and it shows an interior door ready to slide into the rough opening. After the door is in place, you should have a gap all the way around between the jamb and the trimmer stud in the door opening. You will first need to place shims under the door jamb on the bottom. You need to raise the door to compensate for the finish floor and the finish floor covering.


installing doors



After you get the door completely centered, then you can secure it in place with screws. I use 2-inch brass wood screws. I use screws because you can adjust them if you need to. That helps you keep the door centered. Also, because you are putting screws into the door jamb from the inside means that the screw heads will be visible. The holes can be filled in with wood putty before painting. If you can’t sink the screws in far enough to make a hole for filling, you might want to drill a hole first using a counter-sink bit.

Once the door is secured with screws, you can open the door to see if it is level. The door should stay open at any angle. If the door isn’t level and flush with the wall, you will need to make some adjustments. If you have done everything according to plan however, there shouldn’t be any problems.

The door should open and close with ease. Next, you can knock off the shims that are protruding with a hammer. They break easily and the shims that are stuck in the wall will be covered up by sheetrock and trim. Interior doors are done exactly the same way.

The door hardware is quite simple to install, especially if the prefabricated door has the holes already drilled. The picture below shows the parts of a doorknob and how they fit together. It shows the striker plate assembly and how it attaches to the door jamb.

If you’re installing a vinyl slider, or vinyl French doors, they might have a flange flashing all the way around where you can just screw them directly to the trimmer stud on the door opening without using shims. In this case, it’s still a good idea to use a few shims and to get help installing the door because they are heavy and difficult to center.


door hardware



You can use much shorter screws on the door frame. 1” brass screws work really well. Sliders have to be perfectly level and square or the sliding mechanism binds and the door will be hard to open. Even the heaviest of slider doors should be able to be opened by a small child. The sliding door moves on a rail. This rail may need to be polished on occasion with silicone spray. The door lock on a slider will be a small lever with a hook that catches the striker latch when engaged.

Now, let’s move on to the windows. The windows are easier to install than the doors. There are only a few things to consider when buying windows. Mostly, the considerations depend on your preferences and your budget. Shop around for the best deal on windows and don’t let a salesman try to sell you something you don’t need.

I say that because windows can be very expensive or very reasonable depending on the manufacturer and the type. Either will work just fine so don’t let someone sell you handcrafted wood-framed windows when all you need is vinyl-framed windows. They will probably give you the spill about condensation and UV rays that less expensive windows don’t prevent. Most of it is hype, so just try to avoid salesmen when looking for windows. Here are a few kinds of the more common windows.

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The windows attach directly to the rough opening from the outside. You will need to use shims on the inside so that you can be sure the window is perfectly centered. The shims can be broken off or removed once the window is fastened. Just like the prehung door, the rough opening needs to be perfectly square.

If the window isn’t centered just right or if the rough opening isn’t exactly square, the trim that goes on the inside of the window during the finish work won’t fit well and the misalignment will be very obvious every time you look out the window. Once the window is centered, fasten it with screws.

The double-hung and sliding windows are the most popular. Casement windows are usually more expensive. There are also a few of the fixed-frame varieties where the window doesn’t open at all. They are mostly used for stairway illumination, skylights and bathrooms. The easiest windows to install are those with a flange.


installing a window



The siding will cover up the flange when the exterior work is done. Keep the windows shut and locked until completely fastened and secure. The windows that don’t have a nailing flange are usually a casement type that needs to be fastened from the inside like a prehung door. Nail through the shims for stability.


diy window installation



shimming windows


The windows will have about ¼ inch gap all the way around which will need to be filled with insulation. The trim that goes on the inside of the window is either hardwood or MDF. (Medium Density Fiberboard) The hardwood is expensive and used mostly for wood-cased windows.

MDF is a tough type of particleboard. It comes in different widths. The wall thickness will determine the width to be used. It can be painted to match the inside wall color. MDF is easy to work with and really inexpensive. I’ll cover trim a little later.


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