Over the past few years, the popularity of fitted composite doors has continued to grow. Installing a composite door in your property has many advantages when compared to other materials used for front doors in the UK.
Composite doors are made up of a mixture of materials, making them extremely secure and reliable in comparison to other alternatives such as purely timber of PVC doors.
Composite doors also have great weather resistance and require little maintenance meaning they don’t require painting or weather sealing.
A high quality composite door combines style and strength at a good price and with the right tools and skills, you can measure and install composite doors yourself, although this isn’t advised and professionals should always be consulted. Although we do always recommend you involve specialists this comprehensive guide will lead you through the different steps required to measurement and install a composite door successfully, outlining the process followed by these professionals.
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Measuring Composite Doors
The first step in installing a brand new composite door is to measure it correctly. You don’t have to be a genius to know that getting the measurements right is crucial for optimal functionality of the door, in fact this one of the key considerations when choosing between a supply only vs fitted composite door.
In fact, it is highly encouraged that you take the effort to ensure that you got the measurements right as any missed steps or mistakes at this stage can lead to disaster further down the line. As always, a professional should be consulted to ensure you measure up for your door correctly, bespoke composite doors cannot be refunded after the order has been processed.
There are two main things that you have to make sure of: the measurement of the area where the door will be placed and the measurement of the door assembly itself. These two measurements should match each other for ease of installation and reduce need for modifications during installment.
You can use two completely different approaches on measuring composite doors. Either approach can be effective in specific situations.
- Step 1: Measure the entrance/opening – Ideally, you should do this even before you consider looking for doors that suit your style. Of course, you can always adjust the opening according to the dimensions of the door/frame you acquire, but this practice is considered to be more ideal by contractors.
This is especially true if you’ll be fitting a composite door into an existing opening, which is more commonly done than creating a new door entrance.
Once you have the measurements of the opening, you can narrow down your search down to doors that can fit into the entrance.
As a rule, it is recommended that you give at least a 5mm allowance on all sides between door frame and opening, as this gap is considered just enough for easy fitting and effective sealing; this will also account for the door’s and door frame’s expansion.
- Step 2: Measuring the door – This approach is more commonly used if you intend to construct a new door opening or completely modify an existing one.
When doing this approach, it is important that you measure the door in all corners. Measure the height, width, and thickness of the door frame. You might be wondering why the frame, not the door, is being measured here. This is done because most composite doors on the market have built-in frames; you fit into the door opening not only the door, but also the frame at the same time.
Just like on the other approach, it is important that you give a 5mm allowance in all sides for sealing. Once you got the measurements, you can start prepping the opening or bare wall accordingly.
Regardless of the approach that you use, there are general rules that you must follow to ensure that you get your measurements right. Here is how you can be confident that your measurements are exact.
- Step 3: Measure height and width at 3 different points – Measuring height and width at one point simply won’t not cut it. Specialist composite door fitters recommend that you measure the height and width of your doors at least 3 different points.
When measuring the height, you take measurements at the left edge, at the right edge, and at the middle. When measuring width, you take measurements at the top, at the bottom, and at the middle. These measurements should be equal to one another and this will more or less guarantee that you got the measurements right.
- Step 4: Measure the diagonals – This is a measurement that is almost always forgotten by most DIY fitters so be careful to remember this stage as using this technique can save you a lot of trouble moving forward.
The diagonal measurement is used to measure not just the overall size of the door, but also to check if the opening is done squarely. If the measurements of the diagonals are significantly off, it’s a sign that the opening is not properly squared, which can lead to installation problems later.
- Step 5: Don’t forget the thickness – Thickness is also a factor to consider when choosing a composite door. The thickness of the door frame should fit within the thickness of the wall.
It is generally OK if the door frame is thinner than the wall, though some considerations must be taken to ensure that the frame fits evenly. However, it is generally not considered a good idea if the frame is thicker than the wall, unless modifications will be made to the entrance way.
- Step 6: Consider modifications such as side panels and top light – Some door setups will require the addition of side panels and a top light which should be considered during the measurement phase.
When creating a door opening for your custom composite door setup, measure the dimensions of the door including the measurements of the side panels and the top light. Never forget to add these modifications to your measurements to ensure proper fitting, regardless of the modification.
It is important that you make the proper measurements for both the door setup and the opening where it will be installed. Most companies will not accept responsibility for incorrect measurements, so it is important for you as the homeowner to get this right if you decide to carry out the work on your own.
We recommend that you get professional help in fitting doors to ensure your composite door is measured and fitted precisely.
Composite Door Installation
Once you have made all the necessary measurements, the next step is to install your composite doors.
The simple assembly of composite doors combined with their light weight makes them much easier to install compared to doors built using other materials. But for a new home owner this is still not a skill that should be carried out with an experts guidance.
With the measurements done, it is now time to get the installation underway. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can install your composite door.
- Step 1: Pre-installation Preparation – The process of installation begins as soon as you remove out the door from its packaging.
Make sure to remove the outer packaging carefully; not doing so may cause damage to either the door or the frame. In general, using a knife or cutter is not recommended as it can instantly damage the face of your composite if the blade runs too deep.
Once the door is out of the package, do your inspection. Make sure that there are no defects on the door both visually and mechanically.
Any damaged or missing parts should be reported right away. Most composite door makers have a warranty for their products, so having them replaced should not be a problem.
- Step 2: Double check the specs – You should check if the composite door you purchased is exactly what you have ordered.
Recheck the dimensions of the door and frame if they match the specs you ordered. You should also double check the measurements of your door opening to ensure everything runs smoothly once the fitting begins.
You should also check the location of the hinges; they should be on the correct side. Lastly, check if the door’s design and color is exactly what you have ordered. If any of these specs are off, you are entitled for a replacement.
- Step 3: Remove the existing door – (Note: This step is applicable if the composite door is a replacement to an older one) The steps in removing an existing door may vary.
Uninstall the door by unscrewing the hinges. An angled cut at the edges with the help of a crowbar should be enough to unhook the old frame from the opening.
You should stay careful when removing the door to avoid both accidents and damage to your property. Always be aware of any sharp edges and ask for help if the old door and/or frame are too heavy. If necessary, get help from a professional when removing the door.
- Step 4: Install the frame – The frame is to be installed first when fitting a composite door.
Place the doorframe within its allotted space with the same step being followed if your door has modifications like side panels.
Check if the door is centered and all gaps and diagonals are equal. To seal the frame into place, add silicone weather seal between the edges of the frame and the brickwork. Larger gaps may require the use of filler such as foam before the addition of sealant for a balanced fit.
Curing time may vary according to the type of sealant used. Allow it to sufficiently dry up before proceeding to the next step.
- Step 5: Install the hinges – It is time to install the hinges once the frame is securely in place.
Most composite door packages come complete with all the parts of the hinges included meaning you can simply place the hinges at their prescribed places and screw them in.
Make sure to tighten the screws properly to ensure the hinges won’t come off, but don’t tighten them too much or else you will strip the screws. Make sure that no bolt is missing. When in doubt, check the instructor’s manual.
- Step 6: Fitting the door – You might need a partner in placing the door in its proper position.
Properly mount the door by the hinges and once in place, try to close and open the door, making sure that it moves smoothly across the hinge’s full range of motion.
Also, make sure to check if the door fits flush into the frame when you close it. Once you see that the hinge is functioning properly, install all screws to firmly secure the door into place.
- Step 7: Add the finishing touches – With the door finally installed, it is time to carry out the final touches.
Trim any protruding edges for both safety and aesthetic reasons and add silicone sealant on both the inside and outside edges of the frame to ensure a tight seal on both sides.
Make sure that the knob and electronic door lock are properly installed and functional as well as removing any protective tape (if you used any) and clean the newly installed door with soap and water.
That is basically how you will install a composite door by yourself. Provided that you do it the right way, you should complete the job within a few hours however certain steps may take longer than others depending on your skills and experience.
For best results, it is still recommended to hire the help of a professional to measure and install composite doors for your home. This will ensure that all the measurements are done correctly, the door will fit flush right where it needs to be, and the installation shall last the test of time.
Seeking professional help from the right source will be more than worth the investment. After all, you would want to get the job done right the first time to give your home the look it deserves.