How to Install an Entry Door with Sidelights - Part 1

An entry door with sidelights.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-500
What You'll Need
Door with sidelights
Measuring tape
Large carpenter's level
Circular saw
Galvanized screws
Drill and drill bits
Door hardware

Installing an entry door with sidelights to the main entrance of your home offers a gorgeous addition and provides additional light and warmth to the interior as well. There are an array of sizes and styles of entry doors and sidelight combinations. Many doors on the market offer sidelights as an option that complements the design and decor of the door.

Many of these door options can be seen on the showroom floors of home improvement centers as well as door suppliers, and range in price from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The installation process is very similar to a traditional entry door installation. In almost all cases (the exception being very old homes), the sidelights and door come as one unit that is installed together. The installation of an entry door is a common do it yourself project that one can do in a day. Here you will find the information needed to complete the installation. The first step is to purchase the supplies and prepare for the installation.

(This is Part 1 of 2. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)

Step 1 - Size the Opening and Purchase the Door

Some existing entry doors have one sidelight and others have two. The width of the unit may vary. First, measure your existing space to determine the size of door and sidelight combination that you will need. It is helpful to take pictures with a tape measure in both the interior and exterior aspect of the door and take these with you when selecting your door. Sales associates are very helpful in determining the right door for you. While swapping out the same sized door is a good project for a do-it-yourselfer, rearranging the framing around the door is not. If you want to adjust the overall width of the opening, contact a good carpenter.

Step 2 - Remove Existing Door

Remove the existing door. Start by removing any trim around the door. Remove the screws holding the existing door in place. Many times, these screws are underneath the weatherstripping or door rise on the floor. You may also need to cut caulking and remove the shims to remove the door.

Step 3 - Prepare the Opening

Prepare the existing opening to receive the new door. Once the existing door is removed, dry fit the new door. Mark any overhanging siding or shingles that will be in the way, and use the circular saw to cut this away. Scrape away any remaining existing caulking or insulation. If the riser did not come out with the existing door, remove this as well. Ensure that there isn't any rotted wood in the door frame. If there is, replace it now.

Now you're ready to move on to Part 2.