Labor Charge to Hang Doors

Millwork installers discuss the steps, labor time and cost for installing interior pass-through doors. October 4, 2005

A customer of mine wants to use solid core birch doors in his office. For some reason he wants to use 5/4" birch jambs. The doors are not pre-hung and he wants a price to hang the doors in the jambs that we have to make. This would of course include drilling the lock set holes and door stop. I'd like to get an average price per door. We're thinking around $80 per door. Does anyone have any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor W:
Does this job include removal of existing doors, jambs, casing etc? If so, include removal and disposal charge. Installation of each door includes morticing hinges into doors and jambs. Also, there could be possible cutting of door bottoms for proper fit into existing rough framing openings.

Here is a list of what will be needed to be done.

Installation of 5/4" jambs.
Hanging of doors and stops.
Bore for locksets and strikes.
Installing locksets and strikes.
Making accurate adjustments for proper operation.
Finishing of doors, jambs, casings etc. (if required).

My charge would be in the ballpark of $250.00 per door (excluding finishing).

From contributor C:
As a labor contractor in the seventies, I had a farm-home project of seven identical buildings for finish trim. One day, I sent a crew of four and they hung all the doors for one building in an eight hour shift. The next month, another building was ready but the crew was not available. I went to the jobsite myself, and hung all the doors in a building by myself in seven hours. The conclusion, I guess, is even with the best intentions; all men are not equal to a labor task.

I stopped buying pre-hung doors when I found out that I was paying two and a half times more for the pre-assembled parts. Ever since, I have put those labor dollars in my own pocket. To pre-hang the doors yourself, rather than building them in the rough opening, will save you time and earn you more money. A simple shop setup is all you need to accomplish the task; whether you have a formal shop, a garage, or on the jobsite.

A little research into the cost of a pre-hung door of similar quality should give you a handle on what the labor is worth by the market standard.

From contributor J:
One thing to keep in mind but would be good to check out is if you are removing old doors and hanging these new doors in the same opening. If you are you could be in big trouble. Normal jambs are 5/8 to 3/4". If you go 5/4 with same door size then you will have to re-frame all of the openings.

From contributor F:
I think Contributor C has a great idea here. If you’re going to install doors, why not generate as many labor dollars for your own business as you can? When I started out, most shops had a commercial hinge morticing rig in the house that worked with a router and straight bit. It seems to me that these kits also had commercial jigs for the locksets etc. in them as well.

From the original questioner:
There is no removal of old doors and the casing is butt joint square stock. We’re charging $80 a door (there are 16) to hang and trim – there are no lock sets and no finish.

From contributor B:
In looking for a hinge morticing jig, I have owned a Porter Cable for about 10 years now, but have also used the Bosh jig. I like the Bosch a little better. There are no huge differences, just the adjustments and the feel is a little more to my liking. I work in New Jersey and would get about $225.00 a door. If you are doing a ton of doors, and set up a system, you can knock them out fast, charge a little less, and still make a lot of money.

From contributor C:
Pre-made morticing jigs, of course are a wonderful thing, and the router manufacturer is justified in providing them. They are, however, a considerable investment if you are not going to use them on a regular basis.

A little pencil and paper work, a strip of plystock and a 1x2 will make you a jig for sixteen doors. I have made morticing jigs for every kind of hinge you can imagine. One anomaly I would caution you about; not all router bases, or the accessory bushings used for template work are centered on the bit. If you articulate the cut the same way each time, you can avoid minor discrepancies.

From contributor D:
Assuming they are pre-machined doors I charge 1 hour to hinge and swing. It takes about ten minutes to do this but in that price I have the cost of pulling the hardware, calls to the hardware supplier, shimming the door and all those other jobsite things.

It takes about an hour per door for residential, stop and casing included adds about 15 minutes if you have to bevel the door.

As for hinge templates I wouldn't necessarily get Bosch or Porter cable templates. I have two PC templates that haven't been out of the case for 15 years. They take too long to set up, they're too easy to knock out of adjustment, or set up improperly adjusted and if you're machining a lift of doors you can ruin a lot of doors before you even know you are screwing up. I make my own templates and they are utterly foolproof. If you are new to machining doors and want a simple foolproof template I would suggest checking out the site below.

I have never used their hinge templates, but I have been using their strike templates for a couple of years now. They're dead accurate and I can buy them for less than I can make them.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor S:
I agree with the higher prices in this post. Scratch hanging doors is no job for amateurs and the potential for numerous trips to adjust disfunctional doors is there. Without a jig, you are looking at 3-4 man hours per unit - remember, it's birch and will use many screws in the process, and you'll lose some time fighting narrow rough openings. I guarantee you they are not framed properly to accomodate 5/4 stock in the jamb. Best bet is to check it yourself and if need be, mark the doors to the openings and trim the slabs to fit before you create the birch frame and hang the door.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor M:
I agree with the folks who are saying or implying you should charge a bit more to account for potential set-backs. I have hung a fair amount of doors as part of my painting and decorating business. Some go great; some are a pain in the rear. Expect some expanding to occur after they are hung. Often doors will expand when painted, and there's typically some movement of the door jams over time as a result of weather changes. Bottom line - cover your butt or you may be wishing you didn't get involved. Some clientele can be difficult concerning these things.