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March 11th 2021

How to Widen a Doorway

Widening a doorway can give numerous benefits. It allows for more sunlight to pass through and gives better ventilation. It also creates the illusion that the home is larger and more spacious than it really is.

From a more practical standpoint, larger objects can be carried through more easily. In addition, widening the doors of your home to specific measurements will improve wheelchair accessibility which can be very important for disabled/elderly residents.

So if you’ve ever wondered about the process on how to widen a doorway, here is an overview:

The first step in how to widen a doorway requires the complete removal of the existing door (the door panel, door jambs, casings, and all) and then cutting the wall itself. After the old door is removed and the door opening is widened, you will then need to have a full-frame door installation done which can involve a pre-hung door or a slab door.

Due to the extensiveness of the process, the dangers of using high-power tools, and the risks of tampering with the structural integrity of the home, it is highly recommended that you talk to a professional when it comes to widening doorways in your home.

In this comprehensive guide, we will show you the steps involved in widening a doorway. This will help you know what to expect and give you a better idea as to why we don’t recommend this type of project for first-time DIY-ers. Just remember: when in doubt, call in the pros.

Let’s begin!

Closeup of a welcome sign on a white door

The 3 Main Things You Need to Consider When Widening a Doorway

The Location of The Door Matters

You will first need to know if the door is on a load-bearing wall or not.

Load-bearing walls are those that support the weight of the next floor or the roof structure. They are active structural elements that conduct weight to the foundation. Exterior walls are typically load-bearing walls. Interior walls can also be load-bearing. These are marked as “s” on the blueprint of the house. Additionally, any interior walls beneath the beams of the roof are also likely to be load-bearing.

It is highly recommended that any changes to exterior/interior load-bearing walls should be left strictly to the pros.

You Would Likely Need a Permit

Some seemingly minor home renovations, including widening a door, would need a permit in Canada. This is because widening a door is an extensive process that may involve:

  • Removing parts of the wall (especially load-bearing walls)
  • Reconfiguring/updating electrical wiring
  • Reconfiguring/updating plumbing

Decide Between Slab and Pre-Hung Replacement Doors

Replacement doors can come as a pre-hung door that includes the door frame (and in some cases, the casing as well.) You also have the option to upgrade to a double door; unknown to some, these can also be purchased as pre-hung doors for easier installation.

If you opt for a slab door, it would need its door frame and casing custom-constructed for it during installation. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on the differences between pre-hung and slab doors

Phase 1: Removing the Existing Door

The first step is to remove the door slab/panel, the door frame, the door casings, and the door’s threshold (typically found on exterior doors.)

  1. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the hinges of the door. Steady the door so that it does not fall.
  2. Then, use a utility knife to cut the caulk or paint along the edges of the door casings/trims.
  3. Next, use a curved pry bar and hammer to remove the casings.
  4. Use the screwdriver to remove the strike plates on the door frame.
  5. Then, use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails that secure the door frame to the wall’s rough opening. If you are dealing with an exterior door, you would also need to remove the screws that are securing the threshold at the bottom of the door opening.
  6. The door frame should now be easily removed. If not, check for any nails that you may have missed.
  7. Clean up the site from any debris; the real work is about to begin.

Phase 2: Widening the Door Opening

A Note About Load-Bearing Walls

It’s advisable to get professional help with such walls because it’s important to preserve the structural strength of your home. Once a professional gives the go signal for such a renovation, a temporary support wall may need to be built so that the force is distributed during the renovation process.

Steps on How to Widen a Doorway Opening On Wooden Walls

  1. Plan and mark out the dimensions for the widened doorway.
  2. Cut a small hole to inspect if electrical wiring or plumbing will be affected. The water and electricity may need to be shut down momentarily during the renovation if they are in the way and there must be a plan on how they will be reconfigured before the wall is touched at all.
  3. Use a rotary cutting tool to cut out the wallboards according to the new dimensions. Do the same for the other side of the wall.
  4. For the studs in the wall, use a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails at the bottom. This tool can also cut through the studs if needed.
  5. The base plate of the studs may also need to be cut and then pried out to clear the floor for the widened doorway completely.
    Frame this new opening with structural lumber.
  6. Install new wallboards on the exposed structural lumber of the widened opening.
  7. Any needed framing is constructed into this new opening.

Steps on How to Widen a Doorway Opening On Concrete/Brick/Block

  1. Plan and mark out the dimensions for the widened doorway.
  2. Unlike with wooden walls, one cannot cut out a hole to visually inspect where pipes and electrical wiring are coursing through a concrete/brick/block wall. It’s important to have a look at the house’s plans first. The water and electricity may need to be shut down momentarily during the renovation if they are in the way and there must be a plan on how they will be reconfigured before the wall is touched at all.
  3. Once everything is set, the process of cutting through the wall can begin.
  4. A clear line must be present on the concrete/brick/block wall before cutting.
  5. Industry-grade hand-held saws are then used to trace along the lines.
  6. Next, a sledgehammer is used to carefully knock out the parts that need to be removed.
  7. Once the cutting is done and debris is cleared, the needed framing is constructed into the opening.

Close up of a man using a hand-held saw to cut a brick wall

Phase 3: Installing the New Door

Now that the door’s opening is ready, it’s time to install the new door.

  1. Check the sill (bottom part of the opening) if it is level. You can also use a square to make sure that the corners of the opening are lined up.
  2. Extra wood or shims can be added to adjust the opening based on what you need.
  3. For exterior doors, secure the sill pan in place using caulking.
  4. If you are installing a prehung door, it may already include the trim or casing. Secure the prehung door according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. As for slab doors, both the casing and the door frame would have to be constructed before the door can be installed.
    Once the door is secure on its hinge, test the door.
  6. Finally, install the locks and other needed hardware to the door.

Get Sturdy and Beautiful Replacement Doors for Your Home

Burano Doors is a leading manufacturer and seller of stylish and durable doors and windows that are designed for the modern-day home. We specialize in making exterior and interior doors that are secure, energy-efficient, and chic.

In this article, we’ve covered how to widen a doorway in your home. One of the important aspects of this is having a correctly-sized, high-quality replacement door ready. We offer a wide selection of doors in all shapes, sizes, and colours, depending on your preference.

We can also install the door for you and assist with widening your doorway for a new door. You wouldn’t need to lift a finger. To top it all off, because we manufacture our own products, we can offer them to you for the best price.

If you want to learn more or have questions for us, please feel free to reach out. Contact us today for a FREE estimate!

Posted by Raj Kain
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