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Fitting New Doors Into Old Openings

Q: "Should I trim a door for an opening that isn't square or fix the opening?"


I want to replace the hollow-core doors in my house with six-panel wood doors, but the openings aren't square. Should I trim the new doors to fit or fix the openings? Would prehung doors be easier?
—Harold Shelby, Baltimore, Md.


Tom Silva replies: The only way to correct the existing jambs is to remove them, and that requires taking off the existing trim as well. That's as much work as installing a prehung door. So I'd leave the openings alone and trim the doors with a circular saw or planer. Just be sure to order the doors big enough to be trimmed down. When you're done, you'll want a small gap—about the thickness of a nickel—around the top and latch-side edge of the door.
Also, when you make the cuts, apply tape over the cutline and use a good, sharp saw blade, both of which will reduce splintering.


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