Door frames or jambs can be removed for replacement, to change door swing direction, or to gain a bit more space to move furniture. Door frames are nailed to studs. Most of the frame is covered by trim. After the trim is removed, the frame comes out easily.
Removing an Interior Door
Step 1: Remove the Door
Open the door. Remove the screws holding the hinges to the jamb with a drill/driver. Lift the door out of the opening. The hinges should stay on the door.
Step 2: Cut it Loose
Cut the caulk or paint along all edges of the door trim, or casing, using a utility knife. This prevents the caulk or paint from peeling off of the wall when you remove the casing.
Step 3: Pry Off the Casing
Insert the tip of a pry bar behind the casing. Pry it upward to loosen the nails and remove the casing from both sides of the door.
Prevent damage to drywall by placing a pad between the pry bar and wall.
Step 4: Knock Out Shims
Knock as many shims out as possible, using a hammer and a wood block. Shims are small pieces of wood -- typically cedar -- wedged between the jamb and rough opening to plumb and level the door. Some may have nails through them and won't budge. Others will pop right out.
Step 5: Remove the Hardware
Remove the brass strike plate from the jamb by removing the screws with a drill/driver. It's not always necessary to remove this, but there's occasionally longer screws that penetrate into the rough opening. You're more likely to encounter them on exterior doors.
Step 6: Saw Off the Nails
Insert the metal-cutting blade of a reciprocating saw between the door jamb and rough opening. Slide the blade around the perimeter of the jamb to cut through the nails.
Step 7: Remove the Frame
Slide the frame out of the opening. If it resists, check for nails or screws you might have missed. Tap the frame out with a hammer and wood block if it's stubborn.
Step 8: Clean Up
Pull out the cut-off nails with diagonal pliers. If they resist, hammer them down. Scrape off any remaining caulk or paint. Tuck loose insulation back where it belongs.
Removing an Exterior Door
The removal of an exterior door is much the same an interior door, except that the exterior molding is typically made with brick mold, which is thicker than interior casing, and the threshold typically comes out with the frame.
Step 1: Remove the Door
Open the door and remove the hinges holding the door to the jamb. Remove the door from the frame.
Step 2: Cut the Trim
Step 3: Pry Off Interior Casing
Insert the tip of a pry bar under the interior casing. Pry it off and remove it.
Step 4: Pry Off Exterior Brick Mold
Insert the tip of a pry bar between the door jamb and the brick mold. Pry it away from the jamb. It will require more effort than interior casing. Work your way around the door, prying where needed until the brick mold lifts away from the frame. It may come off in one piece or break into three pieces.
Step 5: Knock Out Shims
Use a hammer and wood block to knock out as many shims as possible, just as with an interior door.
Step 6: Remove Hardware
Remove the screws holding the brass strike plate to the door frame, as well as any other deadbolt or security lock plates on the frame. Exterior doors often have long screws that penetrate through the jamb and into the rough opening.
Step 7: Cut it Loose
Insert a reciprocating saw blade between the frame and rough opening. Cut off all the nails around the perimeter of the frame.
Step 8: Loosen the Threshold
Remove any vertical screws from the threshold. Insert a pry bar underneath it from the exterior side. Pry up gently to loosen it. The threshold may separate from the frame when you remove the frame from the opening. That's OK.
It's not uncommon to find rotted wood under the threshold. Replace it if necessary.
Step 9: Remove the Frame
Tap the frame from the exterior side, at the top with a wood block and hammer to tilt it inward. Remove the frame from the opening by pushing/pulling it into the interior.
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.