Menu Close

5 Tips for Framing a Door Rough Opening

Sharing is caring!

If you’re a dedicated build-it-yourself type of person, then framing a door rough opening may be easy for you. For others you probably have plans to build that yard shed or outbuilding yourself rather than buying a pre-built model. While most people don’t have a lot of problems putting up the walls and studs, sometimes it can seem a little complicated when it comes to framing a door rough opening.

After all, that door is going to see a lot of action and it needs to be sturdy, both to support the weight of the door and to open and close easily and securely. There are a few tips that will help you with this task.

5 Tips for Framing a Door Rough Opening

Number 1] Standard sizes for doors are usually 30″, 32″, or 36″. The height will usually be either 78″ or 80″. The most common thickness is 1.75″. However, if you are using a used door, measure the door in more than one place. An older door may have become a bit warped. If you get more than one measurement, use the larger one. Be sure to measure just the door, not any weather-stripping or other add-on.

Ryans Shed Plans

Number 2] Measure and mark all the plates at one time once everything is sawed to the proper size so that you know where everything attaches. Measure the distance between the two king studs on the sides, which will usually equal the width of the door plus five inches. It will help here to mark the top plate as to the future locations of the cripples that go above the door header to save guesswork later.

Number 3] Put the various parts together and nail, carefully keeping the edges square. One good way to add strength is to alternate nail pairs with single nails, as on the five-marked side of a domino, when nailing the trimmers or jack studs to the king studs or along the header length.

Number 4] Attach the header to the king studs. Add the cripples before nailing on the top plate. This will allow you to nail straight through rather than toenailing, adding strength and making the job easier.

Number 5] If you’re not familiar with any of the terms, such as king studs and jack studs, there are plenty of diagrams and pictures available to help. Sometimes just seeing a diagram will answer any question you may have about what goes where. If you need some help framing the walls check out my article How to Frame a Wall the Right Way.

What Type of Door Do I Need?

If you’re installing a door for a storage shed, you need to take into consideration what sorts of things you will be storing in your shed. If you’re just going to store yard and garden tools, and maybe a push mower and tiller, a single door will do just fine. You may want to look at the wider options just to make maneuvering around a bit easier.

If you’ve got a riding mower or ATV, you may want to look into installing double doors. This will make getting that wide riding mower out much easier, especially if it’s usually stored to one side and you have to use a bit of creative steering to get it in and out. Don’t forget that grass chute that sticks out on one side. That always seems to catch on the doorway.

As far as doors for your home, those usually come in the standard sizes, especially when it comes to interior doors. The exceptions are the French doors, folding doors, and pocket door. There is a bit more variety to outside front doors, as some come in rather wide widths. If you’re planning a door to your backyard, this is where the variety comes in.

Ryans Shed Plans

You can have a sliding door, French doors, or a double set up in which only one door actually opens. Some exterior doors are now made as folding doors as well. Dutch doors are another choice for home or outbuilding. They are basically two shorter doors that open together with the aid of a fastener or open independently. Your needs for the space and preferences will determine what you need.

Of course, just about any style of door can come with a variety of window choices constructed into the door. A single large glass pane, a group of smaller panes, oval or round windows, clear, frosted, or even the stained-glass look will give you a great variety from which to choose. Read my article Which Shed Door Ideas Are the Best for You? for more ideas on types of doors.

Types of Door Materials

When it comes to materials, there are many choices. Besides the usual glass, metal or hollowcore wooden door, there are other materials that add a different look.

For instance, fiberglass doors are very durable and resist dents. You can paint or stain it to really make it look like wood. Solid wooden doors give your home a classic look but should come pre-treated for exterior doors. They do need periodic repainting.

UPVC is a type of plastic made from recyclable materials. It usually doesn’t need painting, although you can paint it. These doors are also water-resistant; however, they are easier to break than some other doors of different materials, losing them some popularity.

Should the Door Open In or Out?

Doors on homes almost always open to the inside. This is especially important on outer doors, as this opening keeps the hinges on the inside, away from people who might try to break in by undoing the hinges. French doors are the exception, as they sometimes open outwards onto a backyard. On a shed, doors almost always open outwards. This keeps the doorway from taking up interior storage room and makes it easier to get large items in and out. Check out my article Should a Shed Door Open In or Out? for more detailed information on door swing.

What Size of Door Header Do I Need?

Your door size will help determine the size of the door header you need. Also, you will need to consider whether the door is on a load-bearing wall. If you can’t tell, just assume that it is and go from there. Building codes will help guide you as to the size header you need. You’ll need the proper size header to qualify for a building permit, along with a lot of other details.

Basically, door frames that are four feet wide or less will need a 2 x 6 header. Between four and five feet, you’ll need a 2 x 8. If the opening is any larger, you’ll need a 2 x 12 header. If you have any doubts, go with the 2 x 12 and you won’t go wrong.

How to Frame a Door Opening in an Existing Wall

If you’re cutting a new opening in a wall for a door, you’ll need to check for any wiring or other utilities that may run through your chosen spot before opening and framing a door rough opening. Having to reroute any utilities will probably require a permit and obeying building code requirements. A stud finder will help you locate your wall studs.

Once you have your space decided upon and measured, you’ll want to remove the wall covering over the opening and three inches on top and both sides. If the wall is load bearing, you may need more vertical space for a new header. The easiest thing is to remove the wall covering between the nearest two studs past the opening. Keep in mind that you’ll have to finish the floor where the wall used to be.

Measure the width of the door frame, then mark the door center on the ceiling. Mark each half to the side for the inside of the trimmer studs. Score the drywall with a utility knife along your vertical lines. It may take a few passes. Pry off the drywall. You’ll need to remove a few studs along the sill plates.

Assemble your frame, then install it according to the marks you made for placement. Nail it all in place through the top and bottom plates. You may have to toenail the frame into a standing wall. Finally, cut the bottom plate between the door jamb so the floor will be smooth under the door.

How to Frame a Pocket Door?

A pocket door slides into a slot instead of opening on a hinge. They are used where there really isn’t sufficient space for a traditional swinging door, such as the entrance to a long vanity area or laundry space. This type of door needs a little special construction. You’ll need to make sure you have enough wall space for it to slide full width into the wall. The door usually hangs from a horizontal track installed above it.

You’ll need to get a pocket door frame before you start framing a door rough opening, as frames come in different sizes. Usually, the rough opening for a pocket door is twice the door width plus an inch, and the door height plus five inches to leave space for the header. Once you have your frame in hand, it will be much easier to measure the cut in the wall.

The frames will come with installation instructions from the manufacturer. The frames include both the wooden frame, the metal track for the door, and the structure that forms the actual pocket. Once installed, you’ll need to install drywall over the frame. Be sure to use short screws here, as you don’t want a long one to intrude into the pocket and restrict the door’s movement or scratch it.

One good tip when installing trim around the doorway is to use trim screws on the top portion. If the door ever comes off the track in the future, the only way to reinstall it will be to take off the trim so you can lift the door back onto the track.


Framing a door rough opening may seem like a bit of a daunting task the first time you tackle it, but once you get into it and understand what the various parts of the door frame are for, it will make much more sense. You’ll feel like an expert once you get your first one finished. Doesn’t it feel good to save that labor money?

Sharing is caring!