How to Swap the Swing of an Entry Door | Ask This Old House

21November 2018


Ask This Old House carpenter Nathan Gilbert helps general contractor Tom Silva change the swing of an entry door
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Time: 4 hours

Cost: $100

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List for Swapping the Swing of an Entry Door:
Hammer
Nail Set
Saw horses
Drill driver
Utility knife
Wood chisels
Tape measure
Pencil
Combination square
Miter saw
Brad nailer
Air compressor
Forstner bit

Shopping List:
Wood dowels
Scrap wood
Wood glue
Superglue
100 grit sandpaper
Spray primer

Steps:
1. Start by removing the door. Use the hammer and a nail set to remove the pins in the hinges. Place the door on saw horses so it’s easier to work on it.
2. Remove the hinges from the door using the screwdriver.
3. Fill in the holes from the hinges using wood dowels. Use a utility knife to shave them down to size, cover them with wood glue, and then hammer them into the holes. Give them a chance to dry, and then hit the excess pieces away with a chisel and hammer.
4. Sand the filled holes down with 100 grit sandpaper.
5. Flip the hinges upside down and drill new holes for them so that the door flips the opposite way.
6. Screw the hinges into their new position.
7. Flip the door upside down to start tackling the hardware. The door handle and deadbolt should be easily removed by unscrewing them. Keep track of any screws or other small parts.
8. Unscrew the striker and flip it upside down so that the door knob will fit the other way. Screw it back into place.
9. Screw the doorknob back into the striker.
10. Repeat this process for the deadbolt.
11. Flip the direction of the door sweep using a chisel and a hammer. Adding a bead of super glue will help it to stick in position.
12. Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the top of the door frame to the top of the hinge mortises. Transfer those measurements to the opposite side of the door frame using a pencil.
13. Use a combination square to ensure the hinge mortises end up at the correct depth on the other side of the door frame.
14. Patch the old hinge mortises using some scrap wood. Use a miter saw to get the wood to the correct depth and size.
15. Apply the patch with wood glue and brad nails, then sand it smooth.
16. To help the patch blend in, spray paint it to roughly match the color of the rest of the door frame.
17. Repeat this process for the striker and deadbolt mortises.
18. Mortise the new hinges on the other side of the door. It will go faster if you use a drill with a forstner bit and then chisel the excess out.
19. Drill and screw the hinges into their new position.
20. Rehang the door using the pins.
21. Take the pencil and color in the striker for the door handle and the dead bolt. Open and close the door a couple times to transfer the mark to the door frame.
22. Chisel out the new mortises for the door handle and dead bolt. Use the drill and forstner bit to get the hole for the striker.
23. Drill and screw the striker plate into the new position.

Resources:
Depending on the type and material of the entry door, the process will be different. Nathan was working on a fiberglass door that had equal details on both sides.

All the tools Nathan used to change the swing of the door, including the drill, spray paint, chisel, and hammer, can be found at home centers.

About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we're ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O'Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Swap the Swing of an Entry Door | Ask This Old House
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