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My handyman said that my door's rough opening is 30x80. The problem is that none of the doors that I want are in this size.

How hard is it to expand a door's rough opening to ... say ... 32x80 or 36x80, I'd have considerably more choices. And I might save a few hundred dollars since those doors are cheaper.

My handyman didn't seem happy with this suggestion but I'm not sure if it's beyond his capacity or not.

My house is a 1917 Craftsman with stucco. This would be the rear entry door.

  • @fixer1234 sounds like an answer to me! – cr0 Oct 8 '17 at 5:23
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The question describes this as a cosmetic change rather than a necessity, and it's in an exterior wall. It will be a structural change and a serious expense to expand the opening. It will be much less expensive to find a door for your existing opening, or even get a custom door or modify a door.

Expanding the opening would not be a handyman job. You would need to provide plans, get a permit, and have it inspected (and it isn't the kind of work where you should think about bypassing that process; doing it improperly could have serious consequences, your insurance company wouldn't cover it, and it could jeopardize selling the house in the future). Have a general contractor give you a price if you're curious.

There are still options for dealing with the door.

  • Widen your search for a standard door you like.
  • The manufacturer may be willing (for a cost), to make a door you like in a narrower size.
  • A solid wood door that you like in the next larger size can sometimes be trimmed on the sides enough to fit the smaller opening. If the rough opening is nice and square, it may be possible to make a slightly wider custom door frame that would reduce how much needs to be trimmed from a wider standard door.
  • A door can also be custom made from scratch to whatever exact size you need.

These options would be more expensive than a stock door, but they will still be much cheaper than widening the rough opening.

  • @RoboKaren You might want to widen the opening - makes it easier to get in and out of the home (including moving items outside or bringing them inside) AND makes it easier in the future to change the door if you need to or want to. – Ken Dec 4 '17 at 9:15
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Rough openings are 2" larger than the actual door size. So if your opening is 30" then you would normally get a 28" door for that opening.

Doors are available in 2" increments from about 24-36" by a standard height of 80".

As far as widening the opening, it depends on the framing and where the door is located. An interior door in a non load-bearing wall would be the easiest. It would still involve removing the studs and drywall on one side of the door, cutting a portion out, replacing the studs and drywall, and then repairing the drywall afterwards.

It may be a fairly involved or expensive project but may also be worth it if you need wider access. E.g. for a wheelchair.

Good,luck!

  • +1 OP says it is an exterior door, so surely load-bearing. – bib Oct 8 '17 at 10:59
  • Ahhh yeah I either missed that or he edited his question. Makes thing a little more complicated but still doable if they have room on one side or both. – ArchonOSX Oct 8 '17 at 19:56
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We have a house under construction and the architects spec'd a 30" door for our mudroom. But we discovered, as you have, that that is a difficult size to find. We just wanted a nice steel door with windows, and in 30", everything is special order. 32" and you can have you pick of everything. We're lucky in that the siding hasn't gone on the house yet, but it's still a lot of work. If there's already an exterior finish on, there'll be more money in getting that all cut, new drip edges, and details, etc. Here's what it's going to take for my job (remember, we don't have any exterior finish to worry about):

1. use a sawzall to cut all the nails holding the jack and king studs on one side

2. cut all the nails attaching the sheathing to the header and any nails attaching the header to the studs...this is going to be the hardest part since the builders (the original gc, a guy named Corey H. Gullion, robbed us of a lot of money, and his crew were all over the place in how they did things) used 2x10 headers EVERYWHERE regardless of the actual load requirements (the put a double 2x10 header over a 17" window smh). So I'm not sure a sawzall blade will be able to get at all the nails holding sheathing to it

3. The rest is pretty straight forward: make a new header (I think it'll be double 2x8s, but maybe 2x6s...I'll check the load tables first)

4. Since I have sheathing in place that will act as a working surface, I'll probably mount the jack stud next, making sure the header lines up on it correctly.

5. then nail the king stud in place

6. add a couple of cripple studs on top (since I'm probably not reusing a 2x10 header)

7. patch up the sheathing (it's Zip system, so will probably use a bunch of the flashing tape to cover up any damage

8. re-nail the sheating to the newly located studs and header.

Since I'm not a pro, I remeasure often and have to make adjustments as I go, so this will probably take me 4 hours to do. It also really helps to have the right tools, like a decent framing nailer, a good miter saw, a nice long level, etc.

In my case, the hardest part is going to be getting the old header out. But if it all goes well, and this would apply in your case too, the jack and king studs should still be ok to reuse, so they wouldn't have to be measured and cut from scratch. So if a carpenter is billing $70/hour, you could be looking at $300-400 in labor. But again, if there is exterior finishing that has to be adjusted as well, that's more time, materials and money.

If I don't do ours on my own, I'll still pay someone to do it simply because it gives us so many more options for doors -- an attractive steel 32" door is only $160, and we can then take our time finding the ULTIMATE door...decent 30" doors we've found have all been much more expensive, or simply nowhere near what we wanted.

Good luck!!

  • Wanted to give an update: I DID finally decide I had to do the job myself. All told it took me about 6 hours. Demo was hard because I was trying not to damage any surrounding wood. And cutting the jack studs took a while because that was the key part to getting the header to be level -- so several rounds of measuring and checking for a level result. Re: step 4 -- I did not do this -- I actually measured and put in the king first, then the jack, then the header. Re: step 3 -- for the header you laminate two 2-bys with a strip of 3/4" ply. Not hard, just a bit time consuming. – user3097927 Mar 11 '18 at 22:58

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