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Door Jamb vs. Door Frame: Pros, Cons, & Differences

Door Jamb vs. Door Frame

Doors are one of the primary structural forms of a building and are one of the most used parts of a house, having to deal with constant traffic. The parts that make up a single door are fascinating, and what keeps the structural integrity of doors are the door frame itself and its central part—the door jamb. The door jamb is essentially an individual section of the door frame.

In the article below, you will find all about door frames, door jambs, their purposes, and their main differences.

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Visual Differences

Door Jamb vs Door Frame SIDE BY SIDE
Image Credit: JumpStory

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Overview of a Door Jamb

Door Jamb
Image By: JumpStory

The Purpose of a Door Jamb

These structures are best described as the two vertical sides of a door frame. Door jambs do most of the work to ensure that the weight of your entire door is properly distributed. It is necessary to know the exact position of a door jamb to be able to install it properly or notice any damages that need to be replaced. Door jambs can vary from simple interior doors to complex exterior structures.

A door jamb’s second and quite important purpose is to ensure the door is level by installing it so it doesn’t get stuck on the floor. It is also crucial to provide you with maximum security with the mortise that holds the deadbolt and latch.

What is a Door Jamb Made of?

Door jambs are sturdy structures that need to be made with durable material. They are usually crafted from wood, but there are some rare examples of fiberglass door jambs. The wood used for door jambs can be hardwood or softwood, such as fir, pine, or hemlock. These are affordable, easily accessible, and easy to work with. The workability of the wood is an essential feature because it dictates how you’ll install the hinges and latches. Working with hardwood such as oak is also possible but much more costly and challenging to work with.

man removing jambs of old exterior door
Image By: Andrii Anna photographers, Shutterstock

Parts of a Door Jamb

  • Head jamb: The top part of a door jamb connects the side jambs horizontally.
  • Side jamb: Two side jambs run down the head jamb. These are the most important parts which hold the entire structure in place. The side jambs have to hold the latch and hinges.
  • Doorstop: The doorstop is where the door slab stops once the door is closed. It runs across the head jamb and down both side jambs.
  • Sill and Threshold: Only exterior doors have a sill and threshold, connecting the side jambs on the bottom, opposite the head jamb.
  • Mullion: A mullion is a wooden frame that is installed between the door jamb and the sidelight, meant to provide support to the sidelight.
  • Weather Stripping: Weather stripping is a seal made of silicone, rubber, or foam between the door jamb and the door slab. Its purpose is to reduce the draft.

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door frames in the factory
Image By: dade72, Shutterstock

The Purpose of a Door Frame

One of the primary purposes of door frames is to support the entire structural integrity of the door and all its functions. If the door frame is not installed correctly, the entire door can seem unaligned or uneven. The opening and closing will be as smooth as possible if a door has a functional and high-quality frame. Another crucial importance of a door frame is to provide maximum security to a household. If installed properly, the door will be hinged into the frame perfectly.

What is a Door Frame Made of?

Door frames can be made of several sturdy materials:
  • Wood: Most popular material for residential homes and broader use. It is durable, attractive, strong, and long-lasting. Wooden door frames need to be adequately maintained, painted, stained, and sealed to last intact for hundreds of years.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum is a lightweight material that provides a lot of strength when used for door frames. It is the most affordable material for these structures but provides long-lasting security.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is another material commonly used for door frames, versatility, and durability. It can enhance the beauty of a property, and you can also paint it easily.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is among the best door frame materials, especially for exterior doors. It is quite affordable and has thermal-resisting properties, making it ideal for patio door frames.

Parts of a Door Frame

A typical door frame consists of three parts:
  • Door head: The head is the uppermost corner of a door frame and the horizontal part. You can best notice it when the doors are closed because the door head sits on top.
  • Door jamb: Door jambs are vertical members that support the door’s opening. A door jamb is a part of a door frame, which can often be confusing.
  • Door sill: The door sill is the opposite of the door head and runs horizontally across the bottom of the door frame. Sills are meant to tie the construction together and reduce drafts and dust.

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What Size Are Door Frames?

The standard sizes of door frames are 80 inches by 36 inches, which can depend significantly on the type of home you have and the height of the door opening.

Door Frame
Image By: Joserpizarro, Shutterstock

What is the Standard Width of Door Jambs?

The standard door jamb sizes for interior doors are 4 ⅝ in width. This size can also vary depending on your specific door opening. To measure the door jamb, you need to measure the width between each wall. To this measurement, add ⅛, so there is enough room for the door jamb to fit freely.

When Should a Door Frame Be Replaced?

Similar to doors, the door frames cannot last forever without any visible signs of wear and tear. These structures are being used daily and have to endure a lot of pressure. Maintaining them properly and knowing when it’s time to replace them is necessary. Some clear signs to look out for are a constant draft, plenty of unappealing marks and dents, and rot damage on the bottom of the door frame.

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After reading about the differences between these two terms, you will better understand how doors actually work and their main parts. Put simply, door jambs are an individual part of the door frame. Doors would only be able to function with a properly installed door frame and door jamb. These two parts are what ensures your home is safe and secure. If you maintain a healthy and strong door frame and jamb, your doors will be sealed and closed off perfectly.

Featured Image Credit: JumpStory


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