What I'm Seeing Now


Best Practices In Door Installation

One thing builders have to do is install a lot of doors. It's always a good thing to see Best Practices in door installation!  Particularly when it comes to entry doors!

One thing I see a lot of are entry doors installed with three shims on each side and finishing nails.

If I had to give that a title, I would call it Common Practice.

What's my beef with that?

According to the FBI there are 6,088 burglaries or home invasions every day.  That is 5 homes per minute.  And 67% of these involve forcible entry.

How much protection do three shims and finish nails give against kicking in a door?  Or smashing it with body weight?

Not only that.  How often to you see a door hanging at an angle inside a jam, even so much that it catches on one plane or another and does not close right?  This is due to installation.  Actually, I could say that this is due to Common Practice installation as well.

Look at the photo.

> This builder's installer is using five shims.
> He used exterior-grade screws, instead of nails, through each shim.
> He screwed the center of the door assembly into the header above.
> And the lower center portion of the assembly has a built-in location for secure attachment through the thresh hold and into the lower structure.

Best Practice

I suggested to my client that he install a lock set that includes special strike plates with additional metal and long screws. 

And one that has an extra-long TANG

What is a tang?  The tang is the metal bar that runs from the cylinder, through the door and into the latch case, which is the metal assembly covering the hole in the opposite door jam. It runs into the BACK PLATE which is located between the latch case and the door.

This is the latch case on my rear door.  Notice the extra-deep "hole" with its own metal protector, which is itself screwed into the jam?  And those are 3" steel screws anchoring everything into the double stud.  While no door can sustain too much force, this will seriously inhibit any basic kicking in.

And the door should be secured with a dead-bolt lock set that cannot be bumped.

All in all, this builder is installing the exterior doors very well, and, in my opinion, with Best Practices.

My recommendation:  on new construction, look to see how the doors are installed.  The more shims, the more secure.  And look to see how it is attached to the structure - with long screws or finish nails?  The little things in door installation can make a huge, huge difference.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • October 14 2011 06:27AM


The inspection on my home showed 3 doors that weren't installed property. 

Over the years when showing homes, when a door isn't operating properly, the reason is one of two things:

1.  Improper installation for that door, which is a rather simple fix. .


2.  A failed footer/foundation and the home is off-kilter and none of the doors/windows operate properly, the bricks are cracking, etc. and the repair costs are going to be very costly and until the cause is discovered can't be guaranteed.

GEEZ!  This is complicated. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Thanks Lenn.  A house is a conglomeration of systems all of which must work together.  An improper system, or practice, can affect everything else that depends on it.  That's why it is so important for windows and doors to be level.

Hope you got those doors to work out!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Good morning Jay;  Sometimes a good alarm system is not enough, takes too long for the police to arrive.  A good dog is my "best practice" to prevent a home invasion.  It take a "BITE" out of crime.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) about 9 years ago

Jay, you hit the nail on the head.  It seems that door and window installations are much more slip shod these days

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Great information that most people do not know.  This is a safety point I bring up with home buyers and in my builder forum discussions.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 9 years ago


Very Good Post! Sending this post to lock-set manufacturers and door manufacturers, training organizations for both union and non-union tradespeople and hardware outlet marketing people so that they could recommend 5 shimming locations and added anchors with long steel screws could help. An idea for contractors: market Jay's best practice as what you do normally as a "Common Practice" to differentiate yourselves .... and then perform.

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) about 9 years ago

Ken - dogs, particularly big one, but even little ones that make a lot of noise, are a good deterrent.  The police recommend them for that reason!

Chris - because they want it done quickly!  Sometimes you can't rush a good thing.

Lisa - safety and home security is primary to me.  I am often giving suggestions to people.  And door installation is a huge part of that.

Brad - if only they would market themselves in terms of the basic best practices, I think most builders' businesses would boom!  But alas and alack, no!  Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay -- I can see where 5 shims would take more time than 3, but not that a good screw would take any longer than a couple finish nails - since contractors are using their power drill to put the screws in.  

Have a fantastic weekend!

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 9 years ago


You hit it on the head ; ) More shims, and the use of wide shims are the way to go. More surface area the better.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

That's right Steven, so long as they drill a hole first and don't split anything!

Don - I thought they distributed those shims very well.  Nice and even.  It's a strong pattern, both sides.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Makes good sense. Folks around here are very sensitive to home invasions. A high profile trial of two home invaders who killed a mother and two young daughters just ended. This happened not more that 3 or 4 miles from my house. Extremely tragic.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

There are a lot of invasions here Jim, perpetrated by people from two continents in particular.  Our new friends.  They are merciless, and all for a few dollars and some "fun."

I'm very sensitive to insufficient work when it comes to doors, so I always point this stuff out to my clients.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Good evening Jay. Amazing how secure we feel with finish nails...until someone points it out. lol. This weekend between football games I will be securing my doors with extra shims and heavier screws.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 9 years ago

Finish nails have their place Randy.  Door security isn't one of them!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Dear Jay -

As a (former?) builder since 1973, I love seeing the BEST PRACTICES with photos and sketches that you post. I have a funny story to tell you one day about a "kid" (young adult?) working on one of my projects.
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO great to see it done right!

Have a happy day -

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) about 9 years ago

Thanks Lynn!  It is good to see things done well.  And we should report it!  I'd love to hear the story too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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