This article will take you through a step by step process to hanging an internal door, both in an existing frame or in a new frame. You'll also learn how to add a handle and fit the hinges.
We know that replacing your internal door can sound like a complicated task. Our step-by-step guide with expert tips will help you get it installed in no time.
Whether you’re looking to change all your internal doors, or you just have a few that could do with a refresh, our buying guide is a great place to start if you don’t know what style to choose.
In this guide, we’re going to show you how to:
When using a wood chisel, ensure the timber is secure in a vice or work bench and always chisel away from your body, keeping hands behind the cutting edge
Wear ear plugs or ear defenders when using power tools
If you have an existing door to replace, you simply measure that. Make a note of the width, height and thickness of the existing door.
Check the range and choose a door that matches closest to your measurements, rounding up, not down. For example, if you measured 1978mm (high) x 757mm (wide) x 44mm (thick), rounded up, the nearest standard door size would be 1981mm x 762mm x 44mm.
If you have a frame with no door, measure the height and the width of the inside of the frame. The height is measured at two points (left and right) and the width is measured in three points (top, middle and bottom). Use the largest of both sizes to determine what size door is required, and again, round up to select the nearest standard door size required.
We want to make it easy for you to follow our instructions, and if you’re new to DIY, there are some words you might be unfamiliar with. Our short glossary below will help with any of the more specific terms:
Architrave: A type of molding which covers the join between the frame and the wall.
Door stop: The doorstop is fitted around the frame, it stops the door from being knocked from its hinges.
Flush door: A door with smooth surfaces, as opposed to panels.
Glazed door: A door which has panels made from glass.
Hinge barrel: The cylindrical part of the hinge which allows it to pivot.
Hingebound: When a door won’t easily open because the hinge recess is too deep.
Lintel: A rigid beam called set in the wall over the door to support the structure above the opening.
Mitered corner: A joint made by cutting the end of the 2 pieces of wood at a 45 degree angle, fitting together to made a 90 degree corner.
Molded door: A door with detailing, such as panels, built in.
Soffit casing: The protruding section which runs the top of the door frame.
Spindle: The length of metal rod which connects the 2 door handles on either side of the door.
Stiles: The vertical, or upright, sides of the door frame. The top and bottom are called rails.
Striker plate: The metal plate into which the tongue of the latch fits, this is secured to stile.
Tubular latch: A simple latch used where to lock is needed, these are easy to fit with minimal drilling and cutting.
When using a wood chisel, ensure the timber is secure in a vice or work bench and always chisel away from your body, keeping hands behind the cutting edge
As well as your chosen internal door, you’ll need:
Some new doors have extensions to the stiles, known as horns. These stop the corners from getting damaged. You'll need to saw them off before you install your new door.
Measure the door frame, allowing for the necessary clearance, and transfer the measurements to the door. Allow a gap of about 2mm to 4mm at the top and sides, and 6mm to 12mm at the bottom, depending on the thickness of the flooring. If you are fitting an internal fire door, check the manufacturer’s instructions for what can be trimmed and from where.
Clamp the door securely between a couple of pairs of door clamps and plane equal amounts from the two side edges of the door. Always check the door fitting instructions for the maximum amount you can trim from each edge.
If you need to trim more than 6mm excess wood from the bottom edge of your door, use a panel or carpentry saw, then finish with the plane.
Don't forget to always check what the maximum recommended trimming allowance is for individual doors, as they do vary.
As the doors in many older houses aren't a standard size, you might need to trim a replacement door to fit or even have one specially made. You shouldn't cut more than 10mm off each side edge of a flush door (or 5mm off a panel door) or you'll weaken the structure. Also, it's worth bearing in mind that the old door frame may not be straight. Buy new hinges the same size as the existing ones or reuse the old hinges if they're in a good condition.
If the old door was a good fit use it as a guide for the new one. Lay the old one on top of the new one and pencil mark around it so you can see where to cut any excess of the new door. If you don't have the old door to use as a guide, use the frame to measure the fit of the new door. For this, it's easier to have two people - one on each side of the door. Hold the door up against the frame and run a pencil line down the door against the frame on the lock side to mark the trimming line.
The door needs to have a gap beneath it - keep this in mind when measuring the fit. Simply insert two wedges or screwdrivers underneath to keep it in place.
Ideally there should be a 2mm gap around the top and sides of the door. A flat two pence piece is a good way to judge this measurement.
The sides of the door are unlikely to need much excess removing. Therefore, use a hand or powered plane to remove equal amounts from each side following the lines you marked. Keep checking the fit until its right. Smooth sharp edges with abrasive paper.
If you have to remove a large amount of excess wood from the height, cut from both the top and bottom of the door. Be sure to measure equal amounts, so you keep the symmetry of the panels. Keep checking the fit of the door and use a plane for finer cutting and Smooth sharp edges with abrasive paper.
Once your door is trimmed to size, it's time to measure where the hinges go. Hold the door up in the frame using the wedges and 2 pence piece to make an equal gap around it. Draw pencil lines at the top and bottom of both existing hinge recesses.
Hold one of the hinge flaps on the side of the door in-line with where you marked your hinge lines. This was outlined in the previous step. Then draw around the hinge flap with a pencil. With a chisel and a mallet, tap around the outline you've just drawn. Make sure the bevel (sloped edge) of the chisel is facing towards the waste wood. Next, make a series of horizontal cuts into the wood across the width of the hinge recess. So they can be cut out at 5mm intervals to the same depth as the flap. Then knock out the excess wood using the chisel length ways against the cuts you've just made. This process can be seen clearer in the video found immediately after these steps. Check the hinge fits flush with the door and then screw the hinges into the place.
Use one of the new or existing hinges to mark where the screws are going to go. Hold the hinge in the correct place and pencil a mark where the centre of the screw holes are. Then simply drill a shallow hole using a drill piece that's slightly smaller than the screw diameter.
If you're using new hinges that are a bigger size than the original, then you may need to enlarge the hinge recess in the frame. Simply hold the new hinge up to the frame, overlapping the recess, and draw around the hinge end where the excess needs removing. Remove the excess wood using a chisel and mallet.
Make sure you complete step 4 and fit the hinges to the door. Hold the door up to the frame using the wedges. To begin with, only fix one screw into the top of each hinge. With the first screws in place, check the door opens and closes easily and fluidly, so it doesn’t stick or resist. If you’re happy, fix the rest of the screws in. Now everything's in place, check again that you are happy with how easily the door opens. If the door is not hanging correctly and is rubbing around the edges, try loosening the screws a little, as the tightness will effect the door movement. If the door looks like it's spaced evenly in the frame, except in one area where it catches. You may need to remove the door again and plane or sand off a bit more wood to resolve the issue.
Get to the grips with how to fit an internal door handle, including changing the latch to make sure you’ve got your home improvements in hand.
New handles are a great way to update any door and are also a good way to show off your style. Do you prefer a sleek and chic modern handle or an authentic, vintage inspired door knob? Whatever you decide, we can give you step-by-step instructions on how to get the look that’s right for you.
Top tip - Sitting on a stool can help when you’re working at this height.
The latch plate is the piece of metal that slots into the door frame so is an integral part of how the handle works. With the door closed, make a note of where the centre of the existing latch-keep is on the face of the door. With a tape measure, transfer this mark to the edges of the door and mark the centre point.
Drill a hole in the door edge with the correct size flat wood bit, making sure the hole is the required depth for your chosen lock or latch. Remember, always wear safety goggles when drilling, sawing or chiselling.
Position the lock or latch into the drilled hole and draw around the perimeter of the faceplate. With a sharp 18 millimetre chisel, start by making cuts around the pencil outlines you made earlier.
Remember, be careful when chiselling in the same direction as the grain. Gentle cuts will avoid the grain splitting. Chisel out the wood to the requirements required for the lock or latch faceplate. Then measure the distance from the faceplate of the latch or lock to the centre of the spindle hole.
Transfer this measurement to the face of the door, central to the hole you’ve drilled for the latch barrel. Using this mark as the centre point, and with the correct size wood flat bit, drill a hole through the door.
Top Tip - Stop drilling just as the drill tip appears through the other side of the door. Using this small hole as a guide, swap sides and drill again. This helps to avoid splitting the wood and damaging the door.
Next, place the latch in position, drill pilot holes for the latch plate and screw in place.
Now, place a handle on to the spindle.
Use one hand to hold the handle in place and with the other drill in the screws for the back plate. Specific instructions will come with the handle as an extra guide. Give the handle a quick test and repeat the process on the other side of the door for the other handle.
Insert the handle spindle according to specific instructions.
And that’s it, you’re done.
Don’t forget to check the door opens and closes properly and the latch locates correctly. If not, retrace your steps and repeat. Practise makes it perfect.
Two hinges are usually enough to support an internal door. But in the humid environment of a bathroom or kitchen, you should fit three to stop it from bowing. Hinges fit into recesses of an equal depth in the door frame and stile. But you'll need a very sharp wood chisel with a wide blade to mark them.
Before you test-fit your door, partially hammer four nails into the frame at the depth of the door to stop it falling through.
Start by marking the position of the upper hinge on the stile, 175mm from the top edge of the door. The lower hinge should be 250mm from the bottom edge. Stand the door on its side edge with the hinge edge at the top. Then hold each hinge on its marked position with the knuckle sticking out from the door. Draw round the hinge flap with a sharp pencil.
To mark the depth for the hinge recess, use a marking gauge. Or hold a hinge flap level with the edge of the door and mark the depth with a pencil.
Cut out the hinge recess using a sharp, wide-bladed wood chisel and wooden mallet. Cut the ends first and then make a series of cuts along the length of the hinge to the right depth.
Use the chisel to take off the surplus wood and trim the recess to its level.
Test-fit the hinge in the recess and trim it again if you need to. Do the same for the other hinge. Then put each hinge flap in its recess and drill pilot holes into the screw positions. Insert the screws with a screwdriver to fix the hinges to the door.
Get someone to help you to hold the door in the open position in the frame, with the hinge flaps against it. Then put two screwdrivers or wooden wedges under the door to raise it to the correct height to clear the floor. Make sure the hinge knuckles are parallel with the frame and then mark the frame with a pencil. After that, take the door off and chisel out the hinge recesses in the door frame in the same way as those in the door.
Wedge the door open and check the hinges fit into the recesses. Adjust them if you need to. Drill pilot holes and screw the hinges to the frame using just one screw per hinge. Check to make sure the door closes smoothly. If it's straining against the hinges, undo the screws and pack out the flaps with cardboard. If it rubs on the latch side of the frame, make the hinge recesses slightly deeper. Finish off by putting in the remaining hinge screws.
When you close a door, it should rest against a doorstop and fit snugly. If you're fitting a doorstop, remember to allow enough room for coats of paint if you're planning to paint the door or frame.
Measure and cut the doorstop for across the top of the door. Then shut the door, position the strip and partially knock in some 30mm nails to hold it.
Open the door and finish knocking in the nails. They should be roughly 300mm apart. Repeat the process for the strips at either side of the door.
Door latches, locks, knobs and handles come in all shapes and sizes, including reproductions of many traditional styles and designs.
Door furniture isn't just about function. Choose from a huge range of designs to complement the style and materials of your interior.
Use a pencil and try a square to measure and mark the middle point of the centre rail on the side of your door.
Centre the latch on this line. Hold it in place and draw around it. Use the try square to transfer the dimensions to the edge of the door.
Measure the depth of the latch and mark this measurement. Mark it using a piece of tape on a wood cutting bit, the same diameter as the latch (in this case, 22mm). Drill a hole to the correct depth (as far as the tape) in the edge of the door, making sure to keep the drill level in line with the door. You can clean out the debris with a narrow chisel or suck it out with the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner.
Hold the latch in the correct position on the side of the door and, using a bradawl, mark the position of the handle spindle. Do the same on the other side of the door.
Use a drill with a wood to make a hole at the marked position. This should be big enough to give the handle spindle plenty of clearance. Drill from both sides into the latch hole that you've already made.
Slide the latch into the hole on the edge of the door and mark the position of the rectangular edge plate with a pencil.
Score around the edge of the plate with a craft knife. Try and use one of these, because if you opt for a chisel, it's very easy to split the wood accidentally.
Remove the latch and cut out a slight recess for the rectangular latch plate with a chisel and mallet.
Refit the latch, insert the handle spindle and make sure it turns freely. Adjust the hole, if you need to. Screw the latch plate into position and sand off the pencil marks you've made.
To fix the handle plates to each side of a door, start the screw holes with a bradawl, then put in the screws. If the spindle is too long for the thickness of the door, secure it in a vice and saw it to the right length with a hacksaw.
Close the door so the latch is touching the frame, and then mark its position on the frame with a pencil.
Hold the striker plate in position and mark the shape on the frame. Make sure you include the central cut-out area. After that, use a narrow chisel to cut a recess for the latch and a wider one to cut around the outer shape. Finally, pare away the wood to the depth of the striker plate.
Architrave is the timber moulding that hides the joint between a door frame and the wall. It's made up of three lengths of moulding, a top and two sides, joined with mitred corners.
Hold a length of architrave beside the door frame and mark the internal height of the door frame plus 3mm. This is the position of the internal edge of the mitred corner. Cut the mitre at the marked point on the architrave using a mitre saw or a mitre block and a panel saw.
Nail the architrave in place with panel pins. Measure and fit the other two lengths of architrave in the same way.
Secure the mitred corners by nailing across them with a panel pin. To avoid hitting your fingers, hold pins with long-nosed pliers as you begin to drive them.
Tap the pin heads below the surface with a nail punch.