How to Frame an Interior Doorway

Building an interior wall? Here's how to frame for a new door.

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Building an interior wall with a door frame must be handled differently than an interior wall without. While there are a few more things to keep in mind, however, it can be just as easy! Impress your future house guests by showing off the doorway wall that you built using our easy steps below. With a little bit of hard work, you'll get the job done in no time. 

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Getting Started

It is easier to build a wall flat on the floor if you have the space. Otherwise attach a top plate to the ceiling and use a level or plumb bob to position the bottom plate on the floor. Then cut individual studs and attach them with angle-driven screws or nails.

Select the straightest studs you can find for framing; you will avoid problems later. Check each stud for a crown—a slight curve along its length—and install all the studs with the crowns facing the same direction.

Build the wall with a bottom plate running across the doorway. This keeps the entire wall in one plane as you install it. Then you can cut the bottom plate out after the wall is installed. To make it easier to remove the bottom plate under the door, cut most of the way through it in the correct places with a circular saw.

What You Need

  • Tape measure
  • Layout square
  • Circular saw
  • Handsaw
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • 2x4-inch boards
  • 16d nails
  • 10d nails
  • 8d nails

Tips: Leaving room for adjustment

The rough opening is taller and wider than the assembled door jambs to allow space for the jambs plus a little extra for shimming the assembly should the opening not be exactly plumb or square.

A typical residential door is 32 inches wide and 80 inches tall, so the rough opening is 34 inches wide and 82 inches tall. Rather than rely on these dimensions, however, purchase (or at least measure) the door you will be installing before framing the opening. If you are in doubt about how big to make the opening, make it 1/4 inch on the larger side. You can always shim a too-small door to fit, but a door that is too big for its opening is a nuisance to cut down.

Step 1: Mark Studs

Lay out the positions of the studs. Space the studs 16 inches on center—every multiple of 16 inches falls in the center of a stud. To do this, mark for each stud 3/4 inch short of the multiple of 16 inches. Mark for the opening's jack stud and king stud.

Editor's Tip: A king stud is a stud that spans the height of the wall. A jack stud is a support, typically secured to a king stud, that supports a header for an opening—which would be needed for a door or window.

Step 2: Install Studs

Install the regular studs and the king studs. Cut the jack studs to a length equal to the rough opening height minus 11/2 inches to allow for the bottom plate. Nail the jack studs to the bottom plate with 16d nails and to the sides of the king studs with 10d nails.

Get free estimates for windows & doors from local contractors.

Step 3: Make and Install Header

If the wall is not load-bearing, make the header from doubled 2x4s nailed together with 10d nails. Install the header with two 16d nails through each king stud.

Step 4: Install Cripples

Nail one cripple to each king stud with 10d nails to hold the header firmly down on the jack studs. Attach them to the top plate with 16d nails. The infill cripples continue the 16-inch on-center spacing of the wall studs regardless of where the door is located. Space the infill cripples accordingly. Attach them with 16d nails through the top plate and 8d toenails into the header. Make sure the sides of the door opening are plumb. Tip the wall into place.

Get free estimates for windows & doors from local contractors.

Step 5: Nail Wall

Attach a top plate at the ceiling. Anchor the wall by nailing up to the ceiling plate. Check the wall to make sure it's plumb with a level and nail the bottom plate to the floor.

Tip: Get an Extra Set of Hands

When you are trying to tap a wall into position and get it plumb, it can be awkward to hold a level at the same time. Clamp a level to the side of one of the studs for hands-free viewing.

Step 6: Nail Shims

If there is a space between the top plate and the ceiling plate, slip a pair of shims between the two before nailing. Drive the nails through the shims to keep them from slipping out.

Get free estimates for windows & doors from local contractors.

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