How to hang a door so it fits like a glove

Step by step internal door hanging instructions

how to hang a door

Follow all the 'how to hang a door' steps on these pages to ensure your doors swing perfectly on their hinges! From chopping in hinges to fitting the door latch everything you need to know is here.

What tools do you need?

The tools I use for swinging doors are; a sharp pencil, a tape measure, a combination square, a hammer (or mallet is better if you don't have shatter proof handles on your chisels), some chisels (18mm / 3/4” or 25mm / 1” and 10mm / 3/8”), a power plane and smoothing plane, a marking gauge, a decent cordless drill, some wood drill (Twist) bits, screwdriver bits and to hold the door in position while I work on it a home made saddle and block.

How do you know which way around to hang a door?

In terms of which way up, a four or six panel door generally has a taller stile across the bottom of the door than the top.

In terms of which direction, quite often the door can only open one way and so the decision is easy. If not (and it's not on a drawing), before you can hang the door you need to determine which way the door will swing. Normally this is into the room (if from a hallway). The position of the light switch may help - really you want to avoid hanging an internal door so the switch is behind it when opened.

How to hang a door: Step by Step

Step 1: Prepare the lining

First, prepare the door lining (frame). Hopefully the door lining was installed properly (tips on this page for fitting frames) and it's square, level and in wind. If the walls are freshly plastered, I use an old blunt chisel to scrape any large lumps of plaster off the lining, and if needed an orbital sander to clean it up further.

If the frame doesn't have door stops already built into it then set your combination square to the thickness of the doors edge (often 35 or 44mm thick) and then use it to mark a line in from the face of the lining at each corner like the picture below. Do this about three inches down from the top, and the same up from the floor - out of the way of the hinges.

how to hang a door

Bang a nail half way in at each line that will keep the door flush with the frame and stop it falling through during marking out. I use 45mm ovals or 75mm 'Lost-heads' for lightweight/ply flush doors.

If you are hanging a oak door for example or one that you don’t want to risk denting, nail an off cut of doorstop or other timber temporarily (don't bang the nail in all the way) to the line instead.

Step 2: Put the door in the lining and mark it up.

The most important thing to know about how to hang a door that is a flush or hollow core door is to check the writing on the top edge to find out which side the lock block is in. The lock block is a solid block of wood inside the hollow door for the latch and handle to be drilled in and fixed to. If you go the wrong side the door could be ruined! Once this is established, put the door in the lining with the lock block in the side where the handle will be fitted. This might sound silly but make sure you hang the door the right way up! Ive seen a few upside down DIY attempts! The easiest way to know if it's not obvious is that the bottom horizontal rail will be taller than the top horizontal rail. When hanging ply flush doors, the top is normally the edge with the writing and lock block markings on.

Raise the door up in the opening using a wooden wedge until only a 2/3mm gap is left at the top. You can cut a spacer or use cardboard in between to ensure consistency when hanging more than one door.

If the carpet or flooring isn't already down, check there is a large enough gap underneath to allow for the floor covering and if there isn’t mark what you need to cut off now too. I usually allow about 18-20mm for carpet and underlay.

Step 3: Mark the hinges.

Unless I am hanging doors to match existing ones or the schedule says otherwise, I mark a clear line with a sharp pencil on both the lining and the door - 150mm down from the top (this is the top of the top hinge) and 230mm up from the bottom (this is the bottom of the lowest hinge). I always put an x on the side of the line where I want the hinge to be on both the frame and door so I don’t chop the hinge in the wrong side of the line (Again!). When hanging doors that are fire check, hardwood or in a bathroom/airing cupboard for example, you should mark a line and a cross for a third hinge in the center of the door and frame as well.

how to hang a door

Remove the door and place in the saddle and wedge it, hinge side up. Square all the pencil lines across. I mark sharp clear but faint lines that are easy to sand off later, and only mark where needed not a huge line across the whole width of the door!

how to hang a door

Place the hinge to mark the length of it on the doors edge. Slide the hinge up to the line until it covers the ‘x’ and mark the other end (height) of the hinge. Set the marking gauge up as shown in the picture below and scribe the width of the hinge into the door edge, always working from the face.

how to hang a door

Repeat for all the hinge positions and then set up another gauge if you have one to the thickness of the hinge (I always use two marking gauges to save set up time when hanging lots of doors). Scribe this into the side of the door and lining too.

When I first learned how to hang a door I used to carefully screw the hinge to the door/frame in the exact position and mark all the way round it with a sharp Stanley knife. I use squares and gauges now though because it's much more accurate and consistent, I know the hinge will be perfectly parallel to the door edge and positioned identically in the lining as well.

Step 4: Chop the hinges out.

Always start by chiseling the top and bottom of the hinge first. Then chop in at about 10mm intervals to the depth set by the gauge, as shown in the picture. Carefully pare away the waste, keeping inside the lines. Sand any remaining pencil lines out, drill pilot holes if you need to and screw the ‘leaf ’ side of the hinges to the door (leaf side is that in the picture above, that the marking gauge is set to) with your battery drill. Make sure the screws finish flush.

If you are fitting ‘loose pin’ hinges, you may need to take the pin out and slide it back in the other end so it doesn’t fall out after you hang the door.

how to chop in hinges how to fit hinges

Step 5: Trim the bottom.

Use an electric plane or a circular saw if a lot needs to be removed. If you do use a circular saw, score the door with a straight edge and sharp Stanley knife before you cut the bottom off to prevent tear out. Also, leave the line in a little so you can clean it up with the plane after. Sand any remaining pencil lines off.

Step 6: Applying a leading edge

Sometimes it's necessary to apply a leading edge to the door so it doesn't hit the frame. Click here for help applying a leading edge to the door.

Step 7: Screw the door to the lining.

Lift the internal door out of the clamp and screw the hinges to the lining. Don't fill the hinge up with all the screws yet in case it needs adjusting, unless you are hanging a heavy fire check door. You can use a Board & Door Lifter to make this easier. If it fits OK, put the rest of the screws in the hinges.

Whats next?

Sometimes the door doesn't always fit perfectly straight away. Click Here if the door needs adjusting in some way.

Once it is hung perfectly click here for help fitting the tubular Mortice latch, handles and doorstops to it.

Have a question or comment about how to hang a door?