Use a Window Frame to add a Door to Your Home

MOTHER's Workshop column explains how to use an existing window frame to create a secure place to add a door to your home.

| May/June 1987

  • New Door
    You can ease the trauma by removing a window and enlarging its opening for a door.
    PHOTO: KEN FORESGREN

  • New Door

A window opening offers an easy spot to add a door to your home. Let MOTHER's workshop wonder Dennis Burkholder walk you through this project. 

Use a Window Frame to add a Door to Your Home

When the time comes to add a door to your home—be that addition a greenhouse, a deck, a garage or a bedroom for a new arrival—you'll be forced to cut a hole in the side of your house for a door. Many people face the prospect of ripping out existing walls with a bit of trepidation. Between the siding and the dry wall lies the great unknown.

You can ease the trauma by removing a window and enlarging its opening for a door. A door that's the same width as the window can utilize the existing framing, and you'll avoid disturbing the interior or exterior finishes unduly. The tops of windows in most houses are the same height as the tops of doors, so the headers (doubled framing boards at the top) work equally well for either aperture.

Once you've found a candidate, measure from the floor to the underside of the board that the top of the window butts against to see that there's 6 foot 8 inch clearance. (If it's less than 6 feet 6 inches, the job will be complicated considerably; if it's more than 6 feet 10 inches, another board may have to be added to the header, and the finish above the door will have to be patched.) Most exterior doors are either 3 feet 0 inches or 2 feet 8 inches wide, so your prospect should measure at least 2 feet 8 inches inside the side jambs (the boards that the window slides or snugs against).



Preparation 

Unless you're an experienced carpenter, we strongly suggest that you buy a prehung door. It comes already fitted to its frame with hinges in place and exterior trim (in the case of an exterior door), and it's often bored for the lockset. Otherwise, you'll spend at least another half day, and probably more like a whole one, fiddling with mortises for hinges, squaring the frame, etc. A bare door typically costs about 25% less than a prehung door, but the savings dwindle quickly as you add hinges, a threshold and jambs. The exterior 15-pane French door we installed cost $125 alone or $165 prehung. If you plan to paint the doorjambs, ask for a less costly finger-jointed frame.






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