As previously mentioned, most exterior doors are labeled prehung, which means that each component of the door is assembled at the manufacture or fabricator and made into one unit for ease of installation; hence, prehung unit. The various components of the prehung unit is the slab (the actual door itself), the jamb (the vertical wood on the left and right side of the slab), the header (horizontal wood over the top of the slab which connects to the jamb), the weather stripping (rubber or vinyl strip that is attached to the jamb and header), brick molding (the exterior trim which is attached to the edge of the jamb and header), the threshold (the bottom horizontal metal/ wood that connect to the bottom of the jamb) and of course the hinges.
Up until the time that doors began being mass produced, each one of the components had to be made and/or assembled at the job site. Installing a door was very time consuming and relatively expensive to do. With the advent of the prehung door, the door installation time was cut 75% which in turn reduce the cost of installation.
When you visit a store to purchase a door, most likely you will have purchase a prehung door unit or a wood door slab. Exterior door slabs are made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. The only door slab that can be replaced without having to by the prehung unit is a wood door slab. If the door slab is metal or fiberglass the location of the hinges can’t be carved into the slab so the only alternative is a prehung unit. If the door slab is wood, the place for the hinges can be carved into the door which makes replacing the door slab feasible.
The biggest problem with prehung units is that the jabs are made of softwood such as spruce or pine. These type of wood are very susceptible to rot because the wick moisture very easily. Many homeowners experience the problems of rotten jambs at the bottom of the jamb where the jamb come in contact with the threshold. When moisture collects on the threshold the bottom of the jamb acts as a wick and the deterioration begins.
Sometimes the rot has become so severe that the only solution is the replace the door unit which is not what most people want to hear. If the unit has to be replaced ti is best to replace the unit with “no rot jamb” and “PVC” brick molding. This will prevent the problem from happening again. If the rot is not severe then the jamb may be able to be repaired; however repairing the jamb may not be permanent depending on the type of wood used to do the repair. The harder the wood used for the repair, the less likely the problem will resurface.
When considering exterior doors, most homeowners immediately think of a single front or rear door with one slab the swings into the interior of the house. These are termed “in swing” doors. Some homes have an exterior utility, storage or laundry room that is attached to the house and those rooms can often have an “out swing” door where the door swings outside of the house rather than into the interior.
The doors with a single slab comes in two ready made sizes. The front door of a house is 36 inches wide and 80 inches high (3’0″ x 6’8″). The rear, side and utility doors are 32 inches wide and 80 inches high (2’6″x 6’8″). The swing of the the door is either a left hand swing or a right hand swing and is determined by which way the door swings when standing on the outside of the house. So if you are standing on the outside of the house, open the door and if it swings to the left, you have a left hand (LH) door. Conversely, if the door swings to the right then you have a right hand (RH) door.
When ordering or purchasing s door here are some examples:
- 1Front door, swings to the left. Order a 3-0 x 6-8 LH door ( say Three Oh by Six Eight left hand door)
- 2Front door, swings to the right. Order 3-0 x 6-8 RH door ( say Three Oh by Six Eight right hand door)
- 3Rear/side door swings left. Order 2-6 x 6-8 LH door (say Two Six by Six Eight left hand door)
- 4Rear/side door swings right. Order 2-6 x 6-8 RH door ( say Two Six by Six Eight right hand door)
Front exterior often have more than the slab included in the prehung unit. The other component to a front unit are the door height windows on either or both sides of the slab called sidelites. The sidelites are either 9 inches or twelve inches wide. The can be made of wood or metal. Moisture can damage both types whether wood or metal. The metal one can rust and the wood ones can rot. If the sidelites are severely damaged, even if the jamb are in good condition, the entire unit will have to be replaced because the sidelites are not sold individually which is what most homeowners do not want to hear. If they are not severely damaged there is the possibility that they can be repaired.
All in all, a knowledgeable professional can determine the best course of action. That Good Ole Handyman can do a free inspection and estimate of your door issues and advise of the proper repair or replacement options to suit your budget.
Other door replacements or repairs:
– Interior Door Repairs or Replacements
If you have any questions about replacing your exterior door, please contact us and we will be glad to help.