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How to Fix or Replace a Broken Door Frame

Updated on December 1, 2016
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Dan has been a homeowner for some 40 years, and has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks. He is a licensed electrician.

How Do I Fix a Broken Door Frame?

I got a call from my son yesterday about how to fix a broken door frame - it seems that one of the children had run into the door hard enough to break the door frame and he wanted to know how to go about repairing the damage. Upon arrival I found that the striker plate had been driven out of the frame and a good sized piece of the wood had been split off as well. Luckily the sheetrock wall was undamaged and we would not have to repair any holes in the drywall, but there was no way to hold the door closed although the door was still hung and undamaged. We decided to simply replace the broken frame rather than try to glue it back together.

Step One: Removal of the Damaged Frame

The first step was to remove the old frame on the side where it was split. The top and hinge side of the frame was still in good condition so our work would be limited to the latch side of the frame. Luckily, the molding was also in good condition and would not have to be replaced, but it would have to be removed to remove the door frame, and we started there.

  1. We began by carefully prying off the molding with a small crowbar. We wanted to re-use this piece and therefore took a good deal of care not to splinter or break it - it was held in place with long small brads or staples and came off quite easily. The molding on the inside of the door was already gone, knocked off by the children, but was still in good shape with only one small nick on one edge.
  2. The next step was to remove the door frame on the latch side, and this proved a little more difficult. Carpet had been laid around the door frame and it was not simply a matter of prying off the frame; the top end was nailed to the top piece of frame and the bottom was buried in carpet. We decided to remove the door stop first to be sure we didn't damage it. This is a small piece of wood attached to the frame, or sometimes part of it, that the door comes up against when closed. Ours was attached with long brads again and we easily pried it off without damaging it and set it aside for re-use. The door frame had shims between it and the studding behind it and we were also careful to save these shims for re-use. These shims are there to correct any slanted or warped framing and to make the opening exactly the right size; they are thus quite necessary and they were left just as we found them. As the door frame itself was ruined we simply pried out the center area, bowing the frame piece until it would come free of the carpet at the bottom. We found the very top to be nailed into the top frame piece but were able to remove the side piece without damaging the one on the top, which we left in place. We didn't break the door frame during removal, but if we had of it wouldn't have mattered as we had already purchased another one.

Removal of the Broken Door Frame

Inside molding was broken off previously.
Inside molding was broken off previously. | Source
Prying off the molding.
Prying off the molding. | Source
Removal complete.  The shim is left in place.
Removal complete. The shim is left in place. | Source

Step Two: Fixing the Door Frame

The next step was to install the new door frame and re-install the molding and door stop. The new door frame (or "jamb") we purchased was very slightly shorter, which worked just fine, stopping just short of the subfloor. It was still long enough to extend down just into the carpet, but not so long as to be difficult to work into place.

  1. We held it firmly in place, making sure it was flush with the finished wall on each side, and nailed through the frame and shims into the studding behind. We used two nails at each shim and added a couple more between shims while being careful not to drive them so far they would bend the frame.
  2. The door stop was next; we carefully aligned the top end with the door stop on the top of the door frame and then closed the door and lightly pressed the bottom end of the door stop against the door. Holding the door stop firmly against the door, the door was again opened and the stop nailed onto the door frame using finishing nails. We found the door stop to be slightly warped, but by nailing top and bottom we were then able to bend the stop into the again closed door so that it followed the door all the way down and then nail the center area. Six nails were sufficient to hold the stop to the frame quite well.
  3. Next was the new strike plate. With the door closed just to the point that the strike touched the door we marked the center of the strike on the edge of the door frame and transferred the mark to the face of the frame. Careful measurement found the center of the strike on the frame with the door closed and a 3/4" hole was started there, using a drill and spade bit. We then held the strike in position and marked around it; it needs to be set slightly into the frame so that it will be flush with the surface. We used a hammer and chisel to chisel out the inset for the strike plate, but a router will also work well if one is available. For us, the chisel was quicker and did a good job. The door needs to be closed and the depth of the ¾" hole checked; ours was not quite deep enough for the lock to fully extend from the door, but it was quick work with a cordless drill to drill it just a little deeper. The new strike plate was screwed into place with the two wood screws provided with it and we were ready for the molding.
  4. Next came the molding installation; this was a simple matter of holding the molding into place and nailing. We chose to use longer finishing nails through the molding into the studding behind, adding just a couple of smaller finishing nails into the new door frame where the molding was bowed out from the door frame and drove one at an angle into the top piece of molding and Voila!, the fixed door frame is ready for paint. We chose to apply a coat of paint later that evening after the children were in bed so they wouldn't touch the fresh paint.

While this door frame repair took the two of us about two hours, it could have been done easily in less than one. Most of the work was done by my son (I was there to advise and train) and we took time to go for a soda, play a little with my grandchildren and get a snack as it was around lunch time. The cost for the project was around $12, including the new piece of door frame and a box of nails - not bad to again have a bedroom door for Mom and Dad that would stay closed - and it didn't cost such a sum as to require a two earner income family. Nor did it turn out that learning just how to fix a broken door frame was such an enormous task after all.

Installation of the New Frame

Marking the center of the latch
Marking the center of the latch | Source
Tracing the latch for chisel work.  The door stop is shown here.
Tracing the latch for chisel work. The door stop is shown here. | Source
chiseling out the inset for the striker plate.
chiseling out the inset for the striker plate. | Source
Striker plate installed.
Striker plate installed. | Source
Work complete, ready for a little putty and paint.
Work complete, ready for a little putty and paint. | Source

Comments

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    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Wes: Sure, nothing wrong with multiple shims. I don't know that I would pile 4 or 5 of them on top of each other, but 2 or 3 won't hurt a thing. Just make sure you nail through the stack of shims, holding them firmly in place.

    • profile image

      Wes 8 months ago

      Is multiple shims ok?

    • profile image

      A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss... 3 years ago

      This has to be one of the best articles on how to repair a kicked in door frame in the web! We took your advice on repairing our door frame, but we also added a Rebar DSD48 Door Reinforcer from kickproof.com to insure that our door never gets kicked in again!

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the door itself is broken too badly to repair, it is probably best to replace the entire thing with a new pre-hung door. If it is just the door frame, then replacing the jamb is probably the best option.

    • profile image

      sam 3 years ago

      Me and my brother's were playing in inside the house and we smashed the door and the door frame broke down in the middle what do u think I should do replace the whole thing or just the side

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 4 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      We have a broken door frame that has a sliding door....Going to see if this will help me fix it:)

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Based on your description, I would most likely replace just that side. Hopefully you will be able to find a door jamb that pretty well matches the rest, so the top and latch side won't need replacing.

      That will be a little more difficult that what is shown, because you will have to carefully measure where the hinges go and mortice out a "slot" for the hinge to go into, but still isn't a particularly tough job. I would probably hold the door in place, sitting on a shim to maintain the proper height, and mark the door jamb where the hinges go. At that point a little chisel work and it's ready to install.

    • profile image

      Kelly Nimmo 4 years ago

      I have more of a question than a comment, I managed to break the door frame on the hinge side , both the top & bottom. The top is just split ( no problem) but the bottom is major , my question is : Can I repair or should I replace the whole side? It looks like the door frame was all one piece because there seems to be a nail protruding up through the metal "threshold".

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      While this is not really an exterior door, letting real cold in, you should probably be prepared to hang a blanket or something over it in case the job takes longer than expected. If the molding is badly damaged you will have to replace it all the way around the door unless you can match it exactly; if the home is fairly new there is a good chance you can do that.

      Outside of those two things, you should be able to do just what was done in this directive; remove and replace the door jamb (frame) and molding. You will need to drill and chisel for placement of the striker plate. We didn't even have to remove the door from the frame to replace just the one side of the frame, which was nice.

      Do you have the tools necessary for the work? If not do you have a friend that has done some woodwork that could help out for a couple of hours and has tools? This is not a difficult task, but some tools are necessary.

    • profile image

      Emily 5 years ago

      We have the same situation at the moment, the door was kicked in sort of, not on purpose but rough housing and the only side affected was the latch side and mostly where the door locks, but the framing and the molding was messed up, and im trying to either fix it myself (im a teenage girl) or get someone else to come do it professionally, anything you'd recommend ? the door is the one leading into the garage but is like the bedroom doors.

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are most welcome; I'm glad you found it useful.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • proscourcefloors1 profile image

      proscourcefloors1 6 years ago from United States of America

      Very useful tips for homeowners. Thanks for sharing!

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are certainly welcome. It can be a little difficult when doing home repairs for the first time and not really knowing how to do the job - I hope this helps when (and if) you need to repair a broken door frame.

    • WallStickerDecals profile image

      WallStickerDecals 6 years ago from US

      My husband is not at home so often, so I have to know how repairing things goes, thanks for the tips.

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes it is important. Further damage will almost certainly happen as clothing or other things snag on protruding bits of wood, and injury can result as well. It's a good thing it isn't normally a difficult task.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • whitton profile image

      whitton 6 years ago

      Nice Hub! I love these DIY tips for fixing or repairing a door frame. I agree that fixing the door frames when they need to be is very important in order to avoid any future damage or accidents.

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are certainly welcome to the tips. I never thought about it, not hiring professionals, but you're right in that some knowledge of the job would be valuable when hiring someone to do the work.

    • PR_am profile image

      PR_am 6 years ago from Oregon

      Every home owner needs such home improvement tips. It pays to have some knowledge of home repairs, even when you decide to hire professionals for the job to avoid getting ripped off on a minor repair.

      Thanks for sharing such informative DIY tips. Best wishes to you!

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Thanks for the compliment, and I'm glad you found it useful. You are also certainly correct about the safety angle - jagged and broken molding and frames are certainly a hazard, particularly to smaller children.

    • MsCookM profile image

      MsCookM 6 years ago

      Nice DIY tip and the pictures helped a lot. I must also add that fixing door frames is very important to avoid any further accidents, especially when you have kids around.

    • wilderness profile image
      Author

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      At least it's not a complex or difficult task, not does it take a long time to do. I'm sure you'll have no problems. Good luck with the job!

    • profile image

      Anti-Dolt 7 years ago

      It was fun to read this article on "how to fix or repair a broken door frame" because it brings back many memories. I often have a bad habit of running my 'fist of fury' and my 'kung fu kicks' through random doors (inside or outside) when angered, but I never had much trouble with the framework itself. But recently, I side-kicked a locked door so hard, not only did I "accidentally" annihilate the actual door, the little "striker plate" that you spoke about in this article, went flying off upon my initial strike, as well. Hence forth...I landing on your informative post about broken doors, striker plate installation, the repair therein, and all that good stuff that rectifies the ramifications of my rage. Thanks a lot, bro. I got some fixin' to do! Ha-ha!