If you’re like most homeowners in Denver, Colorado, you could save $2000 every year on your electric bill. How? Upgrade your doors.
You can pay for many types of door upgrades, at least in part, with government-sponsored rebates. The City of Denver wants everyone to live in sustainable homes. That’s why they’re offering tax credits, free evaluations, and, for some residents, free home upgrades.
New, energy-efficient doors retain heat better than old ones. And with remodeling processes that increase insulation, door installation in Denver might quickly pay for itself.
New doors can also elevate the look of a home. One study showed that a front door renovation increases the average home’s value by $24,000 on average.
Doors with high-quality finishes, particularly storm doors, serve dual purposes. They prevent weather damage and maintain a luxury aesthetic.
Updating your doors is a wise choice, but a challenging task. This guide unpacks the ins and outs of door installation.
Should you do it yourself or hire a professional? And what steps do you take to do it either way?
What is Door Installation?
Door installation is an aspect of home renovation. Bespoke doors are created uniquely for your house, to match its style and size. Other doors are manufactured en masse with popular designs.
Door installation can involve taking an existing door off its hinges and replacing it with a new door slab. You can also install an entirely new pre-hung door. A pre-hung door is already attached to a doorframe via its hinges.
Installing a pre-hung door involves removing and replacing both the door and the doorframe. It requires more measurement and caulking than the task of replacing a door slab does.
Any type of door installation requires you to set aside some time and skill. You can do it yourself, or you can look into professional door installation in the Denver area.
DIY or Hire a Pro?
You might not be sure whether you want to do your new door installation yourself, or whether you want to hire a home renovation professional. In that case, consider the following factors.
It takes two professional installers anywhere from two-and-a-half to seven hours to install a set of pre-hung exterior doors. Installing a lock into custom, key-cut doors–especially into a luxury door material, like mahogany–is a precise task that takes an hour in and of itself.
Door slabs approximately five hours to replace–and, again, that’s assuming everyone involved is a professional. For non-professionals, door installation could take an entire day.
If the rough opening of your current door is smaller than the door you’re installing, you’ll have to resize it. This means you’ll have to cut away at the gap you want to install the door and frame into. You do this until the opening is the dimensions you need.
You’ll have to smooth out the opening once it’s big enough. And you’ll need to keep all surfaces level. So, resizing a rough opening can add a considerable amount of time to the door installation project.
If you want to avoid the resizing part of the task, make sure to select a frame that matches your current door’s size. To make an accurate selection, you’ll need to measure effectively. This brings you to the second decision-making point.
How skilled are you at home renovation? While there are YouTube videos and other instructional guides that can empower you to learn door installation, skill-building fundamentally takes practice.
Seeking out a professional means you can trust in their skill level. It can also prevent an expensive mistake.
The final consideration is your budget. Door Installation in Denver Colorado typically costs $282 – $610. However, you can get a better estimate for yourself when you know all the variables. The final cost depends on:
- how many doors do you want to install
- whether you want interior or exterior doors
- how much professional advice you want
- if you need to accommodate a bigger door than your current door
These estimates don’t include the cost of the door itself. A new exterior door ranges significantly in price. You might pay $750 for an energy-efficient sliding patio door, or over $6000 for luxury entryway doors.
A professional can help you save money in the long run. They can help you choose a high-quality door within your budget, then install it right the first time.
How to Install a Door
If you want to install a door yourself, there are established techniques and strategies for doing it well. Even if you decide to go with professional door installation, knowing the steps can help you evaluate the process.
There are a few preliminary steps before you can begin installing a door. You’ll need to gather tools and make some technical considerations.
The tools you’ll need will vary slightly depending on what type of door you’re installing. This list establishes the necessary tools for installing a door slab or a pre-hung door.
- Measuring Tape
- Circular Saw
- Reciprocating Saw
- Hand Plane
- Finishing Nails
- Utility Knife or Exacto Blade
- Painter’s Tape
- Hole Saw
- Nail Gun or Hammer
- Spade Drill
- Spade Drill Bit
- Center Punch
- Hinges (at least two per door)
- Screws (~16-24)
- Manual Screwdriver
- Deadbolt Lock
- Strike Plate
- Fiber Insulation or Spray Foam Insulation
Note: in this case, the shim you want will not be a washer. Instead, look for a thin strip of metal you can use to reduce friction and improve the fit of the door.
Please follow all safety regulations and procedures when you use power tools. Know that caulk can be toxic.
We advise using acrylic-based caulk, as it is the least toxic. Alternatively, use a respirator mask when caulking.
The materials of your door and the rough opening you’re setting it into impact what the best practices are.
Fiberglass doors are a popular type of material because they resist weather damage, maintain energy efficiency, and look like wood. With fiberglass, you can maintain a classic style without the hassle of repair classic materials demand.
Other materials have their own peculiarities. Custom wrought iron and stained glass doors can add to a home’s “wow factor.”
But, you may want to hire a professional glazier to work with these doors. This is particularly true if the stained glass or wrought iron design has historical value.
Install a Pre-Hung Door
A pre-hung door is a door that’s already attached to a doorframe. These doors are already made weathertight when they’re manufactured. They’re also easier to fit than a door slab if you have a standard door size.
Note: This guide is to install a pre-hung door with hinges. To install a pre-hung sliding glass door, please learn more here. While installing a sliding door is a similar process, there are enough differences that this guide may not be the best resource.
1. Remove Existing Door
Remove the existing door, including the doorbell and the exterior trim. To remove the door from its hinges, just remove the hinge pins and lift the door out.
Unscrew the strike plate with a screwdriver. Then, use your utility knife to cut away the exterior trim.
Finally, remove the door frame. Cut the screws holding the frame in place using a reciprocating saw. Then, push out the door frame.
2. Resize Rough Opening
Measure the width and height of the opening left now that you’ve removed the doorframe. If it’s too small, you’ll have to resize it. Cut the opening using a chisel until it’s the size you want.
3. Level the Hinge Side
Once the opening is the right size, level the floor and hinge side. Put a level on the floor beneath the doorway. See if the floor is perfectly straight.
If the hinge side is lower than the latch side, add shims to make both sides the same height. You can attach shims to the frame with screws.
Make sure that you only add enough shims to keep the frame level. Don’t add so many shims that the frame no longer fits in the opening, or the door no longer fits in the frame.
4. Set the Door
Push the new door into the rough opening to make sure it fits. If it doesn’t fit, return to step 3. if it does fit, move to step 5.
5. Caulk the Rough Opening
Apply caulk to the rough opening. You only need a thin layer of caulk.
Push beads of caulk along the vertical sides and the top of the rough opening. Do not caulk the floor of the opening.
5. Press the Door in Place
Press the pre-hung door into the opening. Push the bottom of the door forward to set it first.
Then, tilt the top of the door until it’s upright and in its place. Use a brace to hold the door in place while you secure the doorframe and hinges. Or, ask a partner to hold the door in place
6. Secure the Doorframe and Hinges
Secure the doorframe with nails or screws. Attach the hinge side of the doorframe to the wall. Line your nails up with the hinges.
Secure the hinges to the hinge-side of the doorframe with a pilot drill and screws. Drill holes in the hinge places. Screw in the screws, but only partially.
Set shims above and below each screw, between the hinge plate and the doorframe. Then, finish tightening and securing the screws.
Repeat the process to attach the hinges to the door itself.
7. Check Frame and Sealing Materials
Close the door and take a step back. Notice where the weather stripping touches the door, and how the latch-side of the door sits in the frame.
If either is imbalanced or not level, adjust the latch-side of the door. Use shims to set the latch-side in place.
8. Attach Strike Plate
Close the door. Add shims above and below the middle screw. You can also shim behind the strike place itself.
Secure the strike plate in place with screws.
9. Install Locks
Deadbolt locks are the safest, sturdiest option for exterior doors. You may also want a spring-latch lock or an antique keyhole lock.
Installing locks is a complex process. To learn more about lock installation, read the current guidelines provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Or, look for videos on YouTube. Make sure to find a video that specifically demonstrates installing the lock you’ve purchased.
Go to the interior side of the door. Set insulation around the door frame. Use fiber insulation or insulation spray foam. Follow the instruction on the insulation to apply it properly.
Use protective gloves. Once you’ve insulated the frame, you can place the trim on the interior side of the door. Seal both exterior and interior trim with caulk.
If installing a pre-hung door seems too complex, you may choose to install a door slab instead.
Install a Door Slab
A door slab is a good choice if you want to keep your current exterior door’s frame. Installing a door slab takes fewer steps than installing a pre-hung door.
1. Trim New Door (Measure + Mark)
Close your current door. Use a measuring tape to measure ten inches up from the floor.
Measure your doorframe. Then, measure your new door. Mark the new door one-fourth inch shorter and narrower than the door frame.
Set the new door on a sawhorse. Trim the new door using a circular saw and a hand plane.
2. Remove Existing Door
To remove the existing door, pull out the pins from the door hinges. Lift the old door off the hinges.
To double-check your trim, place the old door on top of the new door. The doors rest on the sawhorse. Refine your trim.
3. Attach Hinges and Lockset
Mark the location of the hinges for the new door. Use the location of the old door’s hinges as a guideline.
Use a combination square to note and mark exactly how far the door’s hinges are from its edge. Remove the old door’s lockset and hinges.
3a. Cut Hinge Mortises and Lock Hole
Cut hinge mortises into the new door with the utility knife. Mortises should be shallow; use the old door’s mortises as a guide. Use a hammer and chisel to score out the mortise completely.
Then, mark the point of the lock and door handle. Use a hole saw to cut the hole for the lock.
If you are going to paint the door, do that before you install the lock. If not, go ahead and install the lock now.
4. Set Door in Hinges
Attach hinges to the mortises on the door with screws. Then, attach the hinge plates to the door jam.
If the holes in the new hinge plate don’t match the holes in the door jam, alter their size. Use a pilot drill to make the holes bigger. Use wood glue to make the holes smaller.
Set the door on the hinges. Place the hinge pin.
5. Test Door and Adjust
After the door is set, test it. If you don’t have enough clearance, remove the door and trim it.
How to Hire Exteriors Professionals
Hiring a professional can save you time and stress. But, if you’re going to hire a professional in the Denver area, you want the smoothest possible experience.
When you hire someone to do door installation or other home renovations, it’s good to evaluate three traits:
- Professional Qualifications
- Professional Reputation
For each trait, ask questions. Learn what exteriors professionals need to work legally. Then, notice what separates good contractors from great ones.
The City of Denver, Colorado requires anyone who builds or works on a home to meet specific standards.
Homeowners who want to remodel themselves need to pass a Home Owners Exam. This exam makes sure a homeowner will abide by building safety codes, fire codes, and zoning laws when they alter their home.
A person who works on homes professionally in Denver Colorado must earn the relevant license or certification. The city requires exterior design professionals to earn one (or more) of three professional licenses.
The city mandates different certifications depending on what the worker intends to do. Make sure the professional you hire has the correct license.
City of Denver Contractor License
This license grants contractors the right to work on homes in Denver Colorado. Contractors need a license to pick up the building permit.
While it isn’t mandatory, it’s a good idea to hire a contractor who is insured and bonded, on top of having the legally mandated license.
Residential Contractor Class C License
This is a sub-type of the Denver Contractor License. A contractor with a Residential Contractor Class C License can legally work on home exteriors in Denver, Colorado. This professional has passed an exam on codes and zoning laws.
Specialty Class D Supervisor Certification
This certification empowers a professional to legally work as a supervisor to a home building or home remodeling project in Denver. If you hire a team of exteriors professionals, ask if the leadership has this certification.
Colorado Green Building Guild
The Colorado Green Building Guild is a non-profit professional organization. Unlike the certifications granted by the City of Denver, CGBG membership is granted by fellow building professionals.
When you hire an individual or firm with CGBG membership, you know that this person builds with a great degree of quality and craftsmanship. CGBG members also maintain environmentally-friendly design standards.
A professional’s reputation goes beyond certification and guild membership. If you’re looking for top-tier exterior designers in Denver, it’s worth looking into who’s won awards, gotten featured in magazines, and who has a good reputation on forums.
Awards and Features
The Denver Metro Home Builders Association grants the CARE Award every year. This is an award for Custom and Remodelling Excellence in Colorado. It honors interior designers, exterior designers, builders, and architects.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado honors excellent exterior design in its annual award events. Read their list of features and honors to see who’s done great work here in Denver.
Since 2005, the Mayor of Denver has awarded new architecture and remodeling work with the Mayor’s Design Awards. These awards celebrate homes and buildings that make Denver more beautiful. They also laud eco-friendly designs.
Finally, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine features and awards excellent home design every single month. If you want the best new door in Colorado, you might find what you want within those pages.
Popular forums dedicated solely to home design have threads specifically about remodeling in the Denver area. Forums are a great place to hear from previous clients and hobbyists about professional reputations.
Professionals themselves also advise on forums you can use to evaluate a potential hire. You might find the following forums most useful in your search:
- Houzz (specifically home building threads)
- r/ExteriorDesign (a sub-Reddit)
- r/remodel (a sub-Reddit)
Beyond forums, you can hear people’s firsthand experience working with contractors in local Facebook groups. You can also read reviews on Google, Yelp, or Angi.
When examining an exterior design portfolio, ask two questions. First, what is the goal of a given design? Then, how does this design choice serve that goal?
It’s good to ask a prospective exterior designer these questions. When you look at display doors, think about the choices the designer made. Composition, color, lighting, and materials all impact the look of a house exterior.
Once you’ve found professionals whose work you respect, it’s time to actually hire. Hiring exterior design professionals in Denver, for door installation or anything else, requires talking about the cost of services.
Negotiating is challenging for many people. While some advice works in all fields (i.e. “don’t sign a contract that makes you pay in full upfront,”) the nuances of hiring a professional vary from service to service.
The art of negotiation could be a whole article unto itself. Fortunately, many exterior designers have set prices. You have options when you finalize hiring. Explore them before you sign on the dotted line.
Expert Door Installation in Denver
If you want to upgrade your home’s exterior door–or redesign it entirely–professionals can make it happen right, fast. You know your home and your neighborhood. So it makes sense that you want professional door installation in Denver done by people who care about our community.
If you’re interested in learning if a door upgrade is right for you, why not use our project cost estimation tool? Or, if you already know your budget and the look you want, start narrowing down your professional options.
You deserve an expert who’ll listen to what you genuinely want. We want to inspire the home of your dreams. Give us a call.