Creators Syndicate

Dear James: My kids have thrown one too many baseball and soccer ball at my wood entry door. My house has aluminum siding. Is replacing an entry door a typical do-it-yourself job? — Andy E.

Dear Andy: Installing a new entry door is a nice Saturday do-it-yourself project. If your boys are like most — in and out of the house all day — you might consider replacing your old door with an insulated steel one that is both tough and energetic. Select one with magnetic weather-stripping.

Starting with a pre-hung door, which is already mounted to the side and head trim of the door (called a jamb) is probably your best bet. This eliminates steps of fitting the hinges and squaring door, which is often beyond the skill level of many do-it-yourselfers. Some pre-hung doors already have a threshold along the bottom.

First you have to remove the old door and its jambs and may have to make a new rough opening if your new door is larger. To remove your old door, take it off the hinges. Remove both sides of the door casing. With a reciprocating saw, cut through the nails that hold the jambs. If there is a threshold plate, cut it loose too.

After the rough opening is cut, test fit the new door by centering it in the rough opening. The door is heavy, so you will probably need the assistance of your boys for this. It is important to maintain even spacing between the jamb and the door.

Next, trace of the outline of the molding onto your siding. The molding is a milled trim piece, which covers the gap between the frame and exterior finish. Remember, if your siding is vinyl or metal, enlarge the outline to make room for extra trim — these types of siding require for a professional finished look.

Cut the siding along your outline using a circular saw. Set the depth of the cut on the saw so that it does not cut into the sheathing. To prevent damage to the siding, finish the cuts at the corners with a sharp wood chisel instead of trying to use the saw.

Slide 8-inch wide strips of building paper between the siding and the sheathing at the tops and sides of the opening. Bend the paper around the framing members and staple it in place. This will shield them from moisture.

Apply several layers of silicone caulk to the subfloor at the bottom of the door opening and over the building paper on the front edges of the jack studs and header. Silicone caulk resists moisture well and can stretch to remain attached.

Center your door in the rough opening and push the molding tight against the sheathing. From inside, place pairs of wood-wedge shims together to form adjustable flat shims. Also insert shims into the gaps between the jambs and framing members and at the lockset and hinges every 12 inches around the jambs. Fill in any other gaps with loosely packed fiberglass insulation.

Check again to make sure your door is centered and nail it in place. When you are finally finished, send the boys to play at the park!

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit