Front door decorated with wreath

Because your home's front door is often the most commonly used, it requires some attention to stay in great shape. Fortunately, you can tackle door maintenance and repairs yourself without spending a lot of time or money.

Install a New Door Lockset

Here's how to replace your door's locking mechanism, often referred to as a lockset. Different locksets demand different assembly procedures, so always consult the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Step 1: Remove the Old Lock

    Remove the screws holding your old lockset in place with a screwdriver. If you don't see any screws upon examining the lock, the mechanism may have a faceplate over it. Look for a spring-mounted tab near the stem of the knob. Push this tab to release the doorknob and access the screws that support the lock.

  • Step 2: Install the New Lock

    The knob hole should be 2 1/8" in diameter. If the new lock won't fit perfectly into the hole, use a file to increase the size. Trial fit the latch. If it doesn't fit, mark around the latch plate, remove the latch and recess the area inside the marks with a sharp chisel. Sometimes it may be necessary to enlarge the hole that the latch passes through using a drill bit. The latch plate should fit flush with the edge of the door when you're finished.

  • Closed door with no doorknob
    Don't forget to prop the door open when you're changing your hardware!
  • Step 3: Attach the New Lock

    Reinsert the latch and tighten the screws. Replace the strike plate on the door jamb. Use the chisel to fit the plate if necessary. Put the exterior knob in place and run it through the latch.

Replace a Door Jamb

A door jamb is the vertical part of the frame in which your door is secured. It is crucial that your door jamb be completely secure and strong. If part of your door jamb rots, it must be replaced. Follow the steps below to complete this process.

  • Step 1: Remove the Molding

    Use a putty knife to break the paint seal between the jamb and the door moldings as well as between the moldings and the wall. Use a pry bar to gently pry out the moldings attached to both sides of the jamb until the nails are exposed. Cut off each of the nails with a hacksaw and remove the molding.

  • Step 2: Remove the Broken Jamb

    Beneath the molding, you will notice the side jamb is interlocked with the top jamb. Break the side jamb apart using a hand or power saw to cut horizontally across the side jamb within a few inches of the top jamb. Pry most of the side jamb from the wall with the pry bar and use a wood chisel to split the remaining piece apart and remove it.

  • Step 3: Fit the Replacement Jamb

    Cut the wood with a hand saw and nail the new jamb in place with a hammer. Press it tightly against the top jamb and nail it onto the frame. Use wood spacers between the top and side jambs so it is even with the door. Use the door as a guide to position the new jamb.

Replace a Door Threshold

A door threshold is a wood or aluminum piece that acts as a doorsill, and reinforces the doorframe. It protects your home from bugs, rain and snow. If your door threshold is badly deteriorated, it may need to be completed removed and replaced.

  • Step 1: Remove the Threshold

    First, check the clearance between the door and the trim pieces (e.g., the door stop) and remove all hardware. Swing the door open as far as it will go. If necessary, pry trim loose with a pry bar and a wooden wedge so you don't damage the trim or frame. Without harming the interior floor, use a circular saw or chisel to cut through the threshold and remove it from the doorway.

  • Step 2: Install the New Threshold

    Use a tape measure and a hand saw to measure and cut the new threshold to the proper length. Notch the threshold to fit properly around the stops. With a broom, sweep out the old material and clean dirt out of the doorway with mild detergent and water.

    Spread caulk generously along the bottom to ensure an airtight seal in the joint between the floor and threshold. Position the new threshold and fit it into place by gently tapping with a hammer. Then nail the threshold into a permanent position.

    Countersink the nails with a nail set and fill the holes with wood putty. Go over it lightly with sandpaper when it's dry. For extra protection, you can apply a wood stain or sealer to the surface.

    Helpful Tip

    To replace part of an aluminum threshold, follow the same steps as the wooden threshold, except use a hacksaw with a fine-toothed blade to cut it to length. Use a metal file to smooth out roughness. Pre-drill the screw holes to avoid splitting the sill and to ease screw installation.

    Good job! By properly maintaining your entryway, you've strengthened your home's security and enhanced its appearance.

Install Door Lockset: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

Replace Door Jamb: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

Replace Threshold Pry bar: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.