Dan is a licensed electrician and has been a homeowner for 40 years. He has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks.
Door Frame Repair
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 even though 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 were 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 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 doorstop. 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 doorstop was next; we carefully aligned the top end with the doorstop on the top of the door frame and then closed the door and lightly pressed the bottom end of the doorstop against the door. Holding the doorstop firmly against the frame, the door was again opened and the stop nailed onto the door frame using finishing nails. We found the doorstop 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 when installed. 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 lunchtime. 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
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 Dan Harmon
Utsler Compound on April 22, 2018:
Thank you so much for the article. We are doing some remodeling in our house and my husband was asking the general contractor to replace a few frames that are broken (Four boys growing were not easy on our house). But I feel confident I can do this myself after reading your article. Now I can use the money towards cabinets!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 03, 2018:
Yes, you can replace just the one side of the frame, with a new strike plate as well. If you go the door route, I'd suggest a pre-hung door - it's not only cheaper that way but less work as well.
suly fr Tn on January 03, 2018:
landlord glued the door frame together even around the strike plate because it was shattered(previous tenants)..then tried to screw in place the door knob latch but it's so damaged it wiggles. can we just replace the frame with the strike plate? and probably a new door?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 03, 2017:
@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.
Wes on January 03, 2017:
Is multiple shims ok?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 17, 2013:
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.
sam on December 17, 2013:
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 from Burlingame, CA on June 10, 2013:
We have a broken door frame that has a sliding door....Going to see if this will help me fix it:)
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 24, 2013:
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.
Kelly Nimmo on May 24, 2013:
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".
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 24, 2011:
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.
Emily on October 23, 2011:
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.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 04, 2011:
You are most welcome; I'm glad you found it useful.
Thanks for the comment.
proscourcefloors1 from United States of America on January 04, 2011:
Very useful tips for homeowners. Thanks for sharing!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 04, 2011:
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 from US on January 04, 2011:
My husband is not at home so often, so I have to know how repairing things goes, thanks for the tips.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 08, 2010:
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 on December 08, 2010:
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.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 29, 2010:
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 from Oregon on October 29, 2010:
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!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 14, 2010:
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 on October 14, 2010:
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.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 02, 2010:
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!
Anti-Dolt on September 02, 2010:
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!