How to Fix or Replace a Broken Door Frame
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.