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First impressions are important, especially when it comes to your house. Interestingly enough, your front door is likely to influence how visitors view the rest of your house far more than the siding, roofing, windows, or any other single element can. A handsome, well-designed entrance also does more to welcome friends and family than a perfect paint job or a lush, weed-free lawn. The irony is that most front entryways are boring portals that merely let people in and out. Here, we'll show you how you can transform an ordinary door into an elegant entryway in one weekend.

The original wooden frame was still good for this project, so we saved time by replacing just the door, not the entire unit. Next, the exterior of the doorway was trimmed with a pair of fluted columns and a stately crosshead pediment. The trim visually extends the doorway from 3- to 5-feet-wide. Instead of using wood trim—and committing to years of scraping and repainting—we opted for millwork molded from durable high-density urethane foam. This lightweight molding comes primed white and is impervious to rot, insects, moisture, cracking, and splitting. Best of all, it looks like handcrafted wood molding, even up close. We finished the entryway with an attractive midview aluminum storm door.

Step 1

Remove Old Door and Threshold

Photo by Smith/Baer

Start by removing the old door from the opening; be sure to have someone hold the unit as you back out the last few screws. Then unscrew the old strike plate from the side jamb. Prepare the sill by removing the adjustable wood strip from the original threshold. If there's no adjustable part, you'll have to chisel the surface flush or cut out the whole sill.

Step 2

Prep for New Door Install

Photo by Smith/Baer

Sweep the sill clean and apply two thick beads of caulk where the new threshold will sit. Set the bottom of the new prehung replacement door onto the sill and tilt it into the opening. Check that the frame is square and the door is plumb.

Step 3

Secure the New Door

Photo by Smith/Baer

Temporarily secure the door by nailing through the predrilled holes in the steel frame and into the wall framing. Use roofing nails, which have large heads.

Step 4

Install Door and Lockset

Photo by Smith/Baer

Swing open the door and drive long screws through the frame and into the original side jambs and head jamb. Don't overtighten the screws or you'll distort the steel doorframe. To finish, install a lockset and nail on the magnetic weather stripping that comes with the door.

Step 5

Prep for Exterior Trim Install

Photo by Smith/Baer

Tack a straightedge board to the house as a saw guide. Run a circular saw along the guide, cutting only through the siding. Pry off the severed siding pieces and strip away the house wrap or building felt to expose the sheathing.

Step 6

Install the Crosshead Pediment

Photo by Smith/ Baer

Apply a bead of urethane adhesive to the back of the pediment, press it into position above the door and fasten it with eight galvanized finishing nails.

Step 7

Install Fluted Columns

Photo by Smith/ Baer

Cut the fluted columns to size with a circular saw or handsaw, and install them with urethane adhesive and galvanized finishing nails (as with the pediment).

Step 8

Install Plinth Blocks

Photo by Smith/Baer

Apply adhesive to the back of the plinth blocks and nail one to the bottom of each column. Set all the nail heads and fill the holes with an exterior-grade putty.

Step 9

Prep Storm Door for Install

Photo by Smith/Baer

Screw the combination hinge/mounting flange to the edge of the door. Then cut the flange with a hacksaw to match the height of the door opening.

Step 10

Install Storm Door Expander Sweep

Photo by Smith/ Baer

Insert the flexible rubber fin into the slot in the expander sweep and slip the expander onto the bottom of the door. Attach the expander with screws driven into the inside surface of the door.

Step 11

Install Storm Door

Photo by Smith/ Baer

Set the door into the opening and drive screws through the mounting flange and into the existing wood brick mold. Install the latch-side and head-mounting flanges the same way. Finish by installing the two door closers and the lockset.