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We're going to update or entire house to a more modern craftsman style and we're starting with the doors and casings. We have 10 doors upstairs (three half-size), and 7 downstairs to replace. Since we're going to be replacing the casing and [eventually] baseboard it feels like the job would be easier, faster, and possibly cheaper (labor) to just remove the entire old door and jamb and install new prehung ones.

I've only installed a slab door twice and I remember it taking a long time and having to be very precise so the thought of doing that for 17 doors sounds daunting. In comparison, I've hung dozens of doors and can comfortably do one in an hour.

While price is always a concern, I think the extra for the pre-hung will easily be offset by my time and accuracy of the new doors. Any thoughts on this from experience? Am I overlooking anything?

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    Unfortunately, as this is written, it's very opinion based. "Should" you depends on so many things, but only you can decide. If you ask "what are the pros/cons of prehung vs slab", you can get some objective answers.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 27 at 18:04
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    Also, I'm quite amused by the "more modern craftsman style". Craftsman style got started in the 1890s and really hit its stride by the 1920s. I guess it's more modern than "castle style".... :)
    – FreeMan
    Aug 27 at 18:07
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    @FreeMan That was quite possibly my first thought while reading this. It's so old that it's hip again hah. Although, I guess anything looks better than the flat sadness of the 70's
    – MonkeyZeus
    Aug 27 at 18:10
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    I think these days it is rather difficult to find a carpenter that can make door frames and fit the doors precisely by hand. I vote for prehung doors and close this thread.
    – r13
    Aug 27 at 18:24
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    The only reason to save the existing jambs would be for historical reasons. Otherwise, prehung without question. Voting to close as opinion-based.
    – isherwood
    Aug 27 at 19:15
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I did a house a few years ago that I replace 24 doors total (including sliding doubles for closets in 5 bedrooms). So 14 doors that I had to chisel out hinge sets.

So here is what you need to think about:

  1. Can I get doors in the correct width? Cutting a half inch out on the hinge side will be fine. Once you get more than that there are issues (tell you later).

  2. Can I get doors the correct height? Unless you are getting completely solid doors You will have about an inch at the top and bottom. So about two inches to play with.

  3. Is it feasible to make the lockset fit in the same opening? Are you getting doors predrilled? Does the predrilled holes match where your current lockset is?

  4. How level is your house? How square are your current doors?

  5. How good of shape are your current jambs?

I can tell you in detail what you need to do for each door but the gist is, you measure old door, cut new door. Visually everything starts from the floor so you want to be either cutting the top or bottom consistently.

Then you have to take a hinge that you will be using and draw your aligning hinge sets. I also use measurements for old door - this is way way faster.

Score, chisel hinges. Once you understand how to do this you can do each hinge in about 5 mins - there is a specific technique (not in video above) that ensures a better fit.

Probably drilling holes for new lockset, installing door, and installing lockset.

Then you have to go back over jamb to fill the other hole... And done.

Here is the big big problem. Unless you are paying over $200 per door your casings will suck. All the big box casings are builders grade or less unless you get a premium door.

Pros for swap everything...

  1. Door should fit right on first try or should be quickly realigned.
  2. Will not have to fill the lockset holes.
  3. Will not have to buy an electric planer. Doing your own doors your cuts are so exact. Too much and you can see the other room, not enough and the door sticks. And maybe you don't know if door sticks until season change or coat of paint. You will be planing parts of the door for sure just doing the doors.

Cons for swap everything...

  1. Costs more - a lot more.
  2. Your jambs may not be as good of quality.
  3. It takes more time for sure. Let's say 2-3 times more. You have to demo too. And if you are slow just installing the door, installing the whole thing isn't going to make you an expert. Your last doors will be done in half the time as the first few.
  4. I wouldn't cut new door sets except height so if you have weird widths you might need to reframe (or should).
  5. It holds up everything else. If you are replacing trim everywhere, you must wait for that section until door is swapped. If you just replace the door itself, it doesn't matter.

So on the 14 swinging doors I replaced I would say that 10 were installed really well and look original. 2 were not squared and took me FOREVER to get right. Like 2-3 hours per door. 2 I was a tiny bit off and they ran a little small. I might be the only one that noticed but I noticed and I wasn't redoing them.

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I'm really not sure what kind of answer you expect.

This project is wholeheartedly based on your skill level.

This guy installs a slab door in about 10 minutes.

If you have all the tools available then theoretically you can do all the doors in less than one day.

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  • That's a great example of what I don't want to do, that looks like a very sloppy job to me. Aug 27 at 18:45
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    Respectfully, the video isn’t the real world. Doors almost always need to be massaged to fit existing openings. Or the slab is too small and the fit is crap. Prehung all the way is my pick. (professional carpenter >20 years experience). Aug 27 at 19:00
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    It didn't look that sloppy to me, but I certainly wouldn't want to have to chisel out that many hinge recesses! The hinges used (with the very rounded corners) would be perfect for using a router with a hinge jig - which are sold for this purpose.
    – Glen Yates
    Aug 27 at 19:03
  • @RyanDetzel In his defense, he did it in 10 minutes.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Aug 27 at 19:28
  • He got it done in 10 mins because he skipped all of the hard parts - marking and chiseling! Yea he went through one hinge probably halfway and in my opinion not done right.
    – DMoore
    Aug 27 at 20:12

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