How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations)

We finished up the basement media room renovation over the weekend and the last piece of the puzzle was replacing the doors and hardware… a much needed upgrade! With that at top of mind, I thought a blog post might be helpful. I wanted to share how to order and replace an interior door… as well as share my top recommendations for timeless options that won’t go out of style. Click through for an inside look at the process, cost, installation, and design selection…

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Doors make a huge difference in terms of function and aesthetic. Millwork can add value to your home, doors play a big part in sound proofing, and stylistically speaking- doors and millwork play a very large part in creating architectural aesthetic of a home. In the past, I’ve talked about selecting interior doors, my love for classic brass door hardware, and how to choose hardware, but I’ve never shared the entire door replacement process. Let’s dive right in!

Measure the Existing Door

There are a handful of precise measurements you need to take, so grab a pen & paper to make a diagram and jot down your dimensions…

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Determine the Door Swing

First you’ll need to determine the door swing. Does the door swing into the room, or away from the room? Which side is the handle hardware located on? Hopefully this diagram offers an easy visual explanation.

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Measure the Door Length, Width, and Depth

Measure the door from top-to-bottom and side-to-side, keeping the measuring tape as straight or level as possible. I find it helpful to draw a basic diagram of the door, and jot dimensions as I measure.

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Pro Tip: If you’re measuring down to 1⁄32, you’ll be paying extra for a custom sized door at that point… you can typically purchase standard size doors in larger increments, then cut them down (shaving from the bottom) prior to installation for significant savings- but, obviously this requires extra work. It is an option though if you’re on a budget!

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Open the door and measure the depth. It’s important to get an accurate measurement here, so it closes & aligns properly…

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Measure Hinge Size

Measure from the top of the hinge to the bottom of the hinge to determine your hinge size. Hinge sizes are 3″, 3 1⁄2″, or 4″. The door manufacturer will need to make the same size hinges that appears on the existing casing, which is why this measurement is very important.

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Measure Hinge Location

Next, you’ll measure each hinge location- always measure from the top of the door down to the top of the hinge plate. Why? If the door needs trimmed or shortened- it comes from the bottom of the door… so it doesn’t affect the hinge placement. Each door will either have two or three hinges, and you’ll need that measurement for each hinge. Examples of my three hinges below…

Measure The Door Hardware (Knob, Lever, Etc)

Now, you’re ready to measure for the door hardware… from the top of the door to the center of the door handle (on the side profile), like below…

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Next, measure the backset- most hardware requires 2 3⁄8″ or 2 3⁄4″. If you’re changing your hardware, you would opt for whatever measurement your new hardware specifies. For example, our backset moved from 2 3⁄8″ (shown below) to 2 3⁄4″ , using our new Carré door hardware by Grandeur.

Choose a New Door (Selection Tips)

Now that you have all of your measurements, you can move onto the fun part… choosing a new door style. Here are my best tips for making a timeless selection, as well as some things to consider!

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Hollow Core vs Solid Core

Before you hone in on a style, you’ll be asked if you would like hollow or solid core doors. My personal preference is solid core doors because of their substantial weight and soundproofing abilities, but hollow core are less expensive and budget-friendly. Neither is a wrong option, as visually they’ll look the exact same. It’s situational and dependent on your needs, priorities, and budget. Solid core is higher-end.

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Panel Style Selection Tips

I’ve found simple to be best when it comes to door selection. Consider the architecture of your home, what feels most cohesive, and I typically recommend avoiding any eased arched or angular panels (sticking to straight horizontal and vertical lines). Those tend to feel less dated. I circled the door style we’ve been using throughout our home. As we renovate each room, we replace the existing doors with these…

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

I did want to give you some “safe bets” or favorites that will withstand the test of time. As an interior designer, I consider these simplistic doors all to be classic picks… or variations of these:

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Choosing Quality Hardware

Along with choosing a timeless door style, I also wanted to stress the importance of quality door hardware. A good heavy and aesthetically pleasing hardware can compensate for a less than ideal door style- and it can add weight to hollow core doors making them feeling more substantial.

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

Be sure to check out this post on how I select door hardware, and this one containing my favorite brass doorknobs & levers. If you’re looking for my exact hardware sources, I save all of them here!

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Order or Purchase the Replacement Door

Once you’ve got your measurements, are set on a style, and have your hardware selected… you’re finally ready to make the purchase and place your order! Head to your local home improvement store (our doors were all ordered from Lowe’s, FYI), and keep the following in mind:

There are TWO main door options:

  1. A Slab Door = which is basically blank… no pre-bored holes, hinges, etc- in which case, you’d be drilling or routing the hardware location yourself- this option just requires measuring the overall door length and width to place your order.
  2. Ready- to-Hang Door = comes with pre-bored holes for hardware, routed for hinges, left swing or right swing specified, etc. It’s custom to fit your space and you’re equipped for ordering with the measurements we previously took. This is the easiest option for replacing a door if you’re leaving the existing door casing (like we did here, in our basement).
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Ordering Process

Some quick tips as you’re actively placing your order… here’s the process:

  • Take diagrams or visuals along to ensure the communication is completely understood when ordering your doors (especially from big box retailers), as we’ve had them make mistakes.
  • Relay your measurements, specify the door swing, backset, hardware & hinge placement, etc.
  • Specify the panel style- with an accompanying photo or diagram for accuracy.
  • Specify the finish: unfinished, primed, or painted. We typically just have them primed and do the finishing work ourselves to save money.
  • If you’re ordering multiple doors, make sure each door is labeled or numbered for organization when it comes to ordering & installation.
  • Finally- place your order and note the lead-time. Most manufacturers are 4-8 weeks.

Remove the Existing Door

Before removing your existing door, check to make sure the new replacement is accurate.

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

The process for removing the existing door is easy… simply remove the existing hardware (if you’re reusing it or for resale), then unscrew the hinges from the casing.

Finish & Install Replacement Door

Prior to installing, it’s easiest to paint or finish the door first (if you didn’t purchase it pre-finished). Next, screw the door to the hinges, the hinges to the casing, and install the hardware. It’s as easy as that! Here’s how ours turned out… so much better.

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Does “solid core” mean the door is solid wood?

Surprisingly, no! Solid core is typically made up of MDF with a heavy foam center, but it’s still twice as heavy as a hollow core door. It’s also noise dampening / sound proofing and gives a substantial, heavy feel of quality. Why are solid core doors not solid wood? Solid wood is not stable- it’s prone to warping, expansion, contraction, etc. Therefore, it’s not the most durable option.

Do all of the doors throughout my home need to match?

Aesthetically speaking, I do prefer when they feel cohesive. Of course the sizes, color, and hardware style can vary, but I opt for consistent doors. In regards to material, some people opt for hollow core doors in insignificant areas- such as closets, pantries, and areas where soundproofing is not needed. That’s a great way to save money in the budget!

How much does a replacement door cost?

It varies… anywhere from $100 to $800, depending on the material, customization, size, etc. Our doors cost around $400-$500 each.

What finish do you paint your doors?

I prefer semi gloss! It’s easy to clean and has the perfect sheen… glossy, but not too shiny. Check out this post on how to paint a door (with a professional looking finish).

How to Order & Replace An Interior Door (With Designer Recommendations) -

I know this was a long thorough post, but I hope it’s helpful someday if you find yourself ordering and replacing interior doors- the prep work is the most time consuming! Feel free to leave me your questions in the comment section below. I’m always happy to help. Have a great week, friends! Be sure to check back for the basement media room reveal.

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  1. Good morning! So much measuring…😱! Ha. Each time you discuss replacing doors and hardware, I am grateful for our old (possibly original?) wood doors and knobs. You certainly can’t deny the aesthetic improvement that your new doors and handles provide (those old swoopy gold levers…yikes.). Plus, a sturdy door and dependable hardware rewards you multiple times a day! The amount of detail and considerable expense involved definitely gives me pause though. Tbh, I had no clue that doors were so expensive. What an undertaking to upgrade an entire house. Those uggy 90s arches though.👎🏼 Your tips for avoiding a custom size and replacing in phases seem extra important! Also, the volume of choices in the door style brochure is staggering, so your designer edit is much appreciated (and pinned!). While I was interested in the many facets of door replacement, I confess to being distracted by the closeups of your glorious marble counter and that luscious shade of navy on the walls. Can’t wait for the media room reveal! You guys are just knocking out projects left and right. You set a high bar, Sarah. Cheers to a fantastic week, friend!💜

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      SO much measuring. You definitely lucked out with your wood doors and hardware! Ours felt lightweight and cheap with the swoopy 90’s levers. It has definitely been an ordeal to replace each door though… saving and swapping a few at a time is our preferred method. I love millwork, so paging through the door brochures is fun for me. I hope narrowing it down helps make it feel less daunting for those who need doors :) Basement media room reveal is coming on Monday! I’ve got to finish photographing it tomorrow and Thursday. I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Hope you’re having an amazing spring week. xo

  2. Good morning and happy Monday! You certainly packed this one with informative tips. We haven’t replaced our interior doors, but this handy guide will be so helpful when we do. I’m thinking back to times we’ve ordered doors in the past, and there has always been issues with the hinges or latches- and I don’t recall us taking the measurements you specified here- and therein lays the problem… 🤣😂 I hope to one day replace our doors with a classic 3 or 4 panel option like the ones in your graphic. For now, the cheap builder grade doors are being put through the wringer by dogs and kids. We’ve already had to bandaid fix two of our doors- it’s only a matter of time. Thank you for compiling such a helpful resource! Your new doors are so classic, clean, and aesthetically, fit your home so much better! Cheers to crossing off the home to-dos! I hope you have a great start to the week.

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Hi Lauren! It’s such a big task to replace ALL the doors in a home, but for us- it has been worth it… and we do a few at a time as we renovate. Having order lots of them, I feel like we finally have the process down to a science. You can’t go wrong with 3 or 4 paneled doors- so classic! Basement media room reveal coming on Monday! Can’t wait to share it. Hope you’re having an awesome week!

  3. Thank you so much for the tutorial, Sarah! It’s very helpful. We have some doors that need to be replaced, and all the hardware needs replacing. I’ve installed one hardware set on a bedroom door but it doesn’t quite latch all the way, so it needs redoing. However, I did opt for an Emtek set and it is completely gorgeous and heavy and it definitely feels way different than all the other knobs in the house. It’s an experience. Haha! (It’s the little things, you know?)

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Happy to share, Brittany! Sometimes it takes a little adjusting for it to catch just right. I’m so happy to hear you’re loving your new Emtek set! Hardware is definitely an experience. It makes such a huge difference!

  4. That’s a great guide for changing out doors. I love a solid door so much, and I think it makes a huge difference. We’ve switched out lots of pre-hung doors, so the whole jamb is included, and I’ve always worried that a new panel will be out of square in an old frame. Also, door hardware is everything. When friends point out our Nostalgic brand hardware, I know those are keeper kind of friends!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Thanks, Julie! Sometimes we also order pre-hung doors… it just depends on the millwork for us. We left the casing throughout the basement, so it made sense to order in this way for that floor. Nostalgic and Grandeur are my favorite! You can’t go wrong with nice hardware from them. Sounds like you have great taste and even better friends :)