Installing a Hinged Patio Door
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 8, 2021)
If you are looking for a great way to dramatically change the appearance of your home, then you should consider installing a hinged patio door. While not particularly difficult, it is a time consuming process. Because this project can take up to nine hours depending on your skill level, you should only begin it when you have the time to complete it. Here are some instructions detailing how you can do this project.
- Dust mask
- Ear protection
- Safety glasses
- Utility knife
- Caulking gun
- 4-foot level
- Circular saw
- Door assembly
- Drip edge
- Silicone caulking
- 2-inch galvanized finishing nails
- 10d casing nails
- Fiberglass insulation
- Get rid of old doors. Make sure that you have completely removed all vestiges of the old patio door. This will include any tracks, hinges, the door frames, remove all of it right down to the framed opening. Be sure that you also include any exterior surfaces inside the framed opening, as well as any insulation that may be there.
- Test fit the new doors. Take your new doors and conduct a test fit. This will be done by centering the unit in the rough opening, and checking to make sure that the door is plumb. Insert shims if necessary to ensure that everything is plumb and in place. Have a friend help hold the door in place while doing this step since the door is not physically attached to anything.
- Trace the molding. Use a pencil and trace the outline of the molding or nailing fin of the new doors. Once the outline has been traced, remove the door and carefully set it aside for now.
- Cut along the outline. Set the depth on your circular saw so that it will only cut through the siding, and not through the sheathing underneath. Put on some ear protection, safety glasses, and a dust mask and then plug the circular saw into an outlet. Cut along the outline, making sure that you do not cut into the corners. Finish the last little bit of the corners by using a wood chisel. As you are cutting, make sure that there is no exposed wiring, and watch out for any kickback on the saw.
- Make sure the opening is square. Check to make sure that the opening is square by measuring from each corner to it's opposite. The measurements should be the same, though they can differ by as much as 1/4 inch. Correct any misalignments by placing some shims directly under the jamb.
- Create a temporary door. Since this project can take more than a day, use a drip edge to create a temporary door. Install the drip edge under the edge of the siding at the top of the rough opening. Do not nail the drip edge, the siding should be enough to hold it in place.
- Check flooring. Oftentimes, when you remove an old door frame, you can end up taking some of the flooring with it. If that is the case in this project, simply cut a piece of pressure treated wood to the same thickness as the interior flooring. Put it in place, and check to make sure that it is level. Place shims every four inches if necessary to bring the wood to level.
- Install shims and patch. Remove the wood, and then apply two or three beads of caulking over the top of the shims. Replace the pressure treated wood, and nail it into place using galvanized roofing nails.
- Caulk the threshold and fins. Apply caulking along the edge of what will be the new threshold, as well as along the inside edge of the fins or molding. This will help to create a weather tight seal against the elements.
- Place door and check it is square. Remove any remaining packaging that is still on the door from shipment, and place the door into the rough opening. Carefully put the door into place, and ensure that it is centered. As you are putting the door in place, make sure that you do not smear any of the caulking that you have placed onto the fins and molding. Once in place, double check the diagonals again to ensure that everything is still square. At this point the diagonals should not differ by more than 1/8 inch, so shim as necessary to bring everything back to square.
- Nail molding and shim the door. Using 2 inch galvanized roofing nails, nail the fins or molding to the sheathing. Focus on the top corners of the fins when doing this, since this is only a temporary hold. Place a couple of shims behind each hinge as well as around the latch strike to make sure that everything is tight and secure. Do not place any shims along the top of the door.
- Attach door frame, trim shims, and insulate the door. Check to make sure that the diagonals are still square and level. Make any final adjustments as necessary, and then begin to nail 2 inch galvanized finishing nails into the doorjamb through any shims and into the frame itself. Trim the shims, and then begin to install the insulation. Insulating the door like this will help to reduce any drafts and help to make your home a little more energy efficient.
- Attach exterior molding and caulk the sill. Use 10d casing nails to attach the molding to the house. These nails should be driven in every 12 inches. If you have a nailing fin instead of molding, follow the recommendations of the manufacturer by nailing through the premade holes in the fin. Cover the fin with some molding to hide it. Around the sill or molding apply another layer of caulking. Press the caulking into any cracks with a caulking tool or a damp finger. Finish installing the door handles and lockset according to the manufacturers instructions.
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