All house projects are not created equal – Replacing interior Doors

Replacing interior doors in your house should not be a hard task to accomplish.  Just measure the rough opening, purchase a new door that should fit in the rough opening, and then install the new door in a matter of minutes.  However, if your house is like mine and you had previous owners like me you will understand why there is nothing “easy” or “standard” when it comes to house projects.

To spare you the long story I will jump right in that I needed to replace the downstairs bathroom door and jam (frame).  Should be an easy task right?  Think again.  I quickly realized after taking the door and molding off that the rough opening of the door was not even close to a standard size but yet they somehow took a standard door and shoved it into the opening they had.  Very classic for my house and I really shouldn’t have expected anything less.  So that left me with two decisions:

  1. Buy a custom door that would cost over $300 and probably take a couple of weeks until I would get it back or
  2. Buy a standard door and cut it down to size

I obviously took the quicker/cheaper option otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.  The first big task was to shave off the sides of the frame so I could squeeze it into place and still keep the frame square.  This actually took a lot longer than I expected as we never wanted to cut off too much and didn’t really want to break the frame all the way down while cutting.  After a couple of trial an errors we finally found the perfect fit.

Perfect fit

Once the frame nice and snug in the rough opening it was time to cut the door down to size as of course it was too tall.  Now this is not as tough of a task but since I was using hollow core doors it added to the challenge as I was taking more than 2 inches off the bottom.  Which means that the bottom of the door would have been left open as I would be cutting the entire filling piece off.  Since this had already happened to me before for some closet doors I replaced I already had a solution.

In order to make a nice cut and not chip your wood up to much I would suggest putting a line of painters tap on both sides.  You will probably still have some chipping but it will help reduce it.  After you make the cut you will want to clean out the spacing foam/cardboard to make room for a new cap.

Inside of the Hollow-Core door

If you have the right materials around you can cut a new piece of wood for the filler.  If that is the case make sure you are measuring from the outside edges and not the center of the hole.  Otherwise, another option in a pinch is to use the old filler from the part you cut.  However, it takes a little bit of work pealing the outside paneling away without breaking the cap.  Either way works as I have done both before.  Finally, to secure it in place I would suggest using glue and then tack it with a brad nailer.

Here is the finished product which tuned out nice after spending about 2 hrs more than I had hoped to.

Follow-up: So after writing all of this I decided to see if anyone had a video of a similar process that I took of cutting the hollow-core door.  I was in luck as Rick Arnold published a video on FineHomeBuilding that is pretty much identical to what I did. 


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