Prehung vs. slab door: Which one should you install?


By Francesca Singer

If you've never had to replace a door, chances are you're not sure what all the fuss is about. But there are a few reasons for all the door drama.

When replacing a door, there are many different types of materials, weights, and styles you can choose from. But there are two popular types of doors you may want to consider: prehung doors and slab doors.

Choosing a prehung or a slab door will depend on your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and other factors. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about both options so you can make the best decision.  

What is a prehung door?

A prehung door is already mounted in a frame. It has a predrilled hole for the doorknob and a precut hole for the strike plate. It's almost an all-in-one package, and it comes ready to be installed immediately into a door opening.

installling prehung door in homeOnce it's fitted properly, the prehung door typically needs to be finished with paint, along with surrounding drywall and trim. 

When to install a prehung door.

Prehung doors are a great option for new construction projects or complete remodels. This is especially true if you don't have an existing door frame. If your existing door has a damaged or rotting frame, a prehung door is a good choice. 

They're also great for exterior doors because they usually come weathertight and well-sealed, and they're easy to fit.

Difficulty of installation.

Prehung doors are easy to install; no advanced carpentry skills are required. You only need to attach the frame to your existing door opening. They come with hinges and precut holes, so no precise cutting or drilling is needed. However, these doors are heavy and will need two people to install them safely.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Or, you can hire a professional to install your prehung door.

Cost of prehung doors.

Those who choose prehung doors rather than slab doors can expect to pay slightly more. That's because a prehung door comes with all of the materials and hardware already included. However, the cost of your door will depend on the size, design, and other features. You'll also need to consider the installation costs if you decide to hire a professional.

What is a slab door?

A slab door is a basic door without hinges, a frame, or a precut strike plate hole. You can find slab doors in a wide range of designs.

professional installing a slab doorSlab doors don't come with all of the hardware you need, but they often come with a pre-drilled door knob hole. Keep in mind that your door may require mortising for the hinges.

When to install a slab door.

If you have an existing frame, choosing a slab door instead of a prehung door is a smart choice. Slab doors make great interior door replacements, as they don't need to be as well-sealed as exterior doors.

You might install a slab door if you're using a vintage door to replace an existing door or to finish out a new build. 

Difficulty of installation

The installation process for a new slab door requires extra work and a higher level of skill than installing prehung doors. It's necessary to mortise the hinges and cut a hole for the kick plate. In some cases, you might even need to cut a door down to the proper size. Consider hiring a professional to install a slab door to ensure a proper fit.

Cost of slab doors.

Because the hardware and frame aren’t included, slab doors can be more affordable than prehung doors. Again, it all comes down to the size, design, and installation cost.

A slab door isn't as DIY-friendly as a prehung door. And because it can be more difficult to install, a professional might charge you a bit more for their services. Get a few estimates to find out which option is best for your budget.

Slab vs. prehung door comparison chart.


Prehung door

Slab door


May be more expensive

May be less expensive


Door already attached to a frame with a pre-drilled doorknob hole and a pre-cut hole on the frame for a strike plate

New doors will not have a doorknob hole pre-drilled and will come without hinges or mortising


Useful in interior or exterior installations, excellent if replacing a damaged door frame or upgrading an exterior door for energy efficiency

Well suited for indoor installations, replacing one door with an identical door, house renovations, creating a vintage look with a recycled door, and if you already have a frame


Easier to install; no mortising of the hinges required, no need to build a door frame from scratch

Installation must be precise, requires a lot of carpentry work and takes longer to install

DIY friendliness

Friendlier DIY option

More challenging DIY job

Biggest pros

Comes weather-tight and ready to install 

Lighter and easier to handle, more design flexibility, ability to reuse vintage doors

Biggest cons

Can be heavy and hard to handle, installation is a two-person job

It can be difficult to achieve the right swing and fit, requires a strong level of carpentry skill and precision

Prehung vs. slab door — which one should you choose?

The type of door you choose for your project should be determined by weighing the pros and cons and finding the path that works best for you. 

If you're installing an interior door, a slab door is an excellent option when the existing frames are in good condition and all you need is a door. However, if you're doing a full remodel of an interior doorway, installing a prehung door will be easier than building a door frame from scratch.

As mentioned above, if you need to install an exterior door, a prehung option will likely save a lot of time and trouble. It's typically better sealed, making it more energy efficient. It's also easier to install.

Hire a door installation professional near you.

We hope you now feel more capable of making an informed decision on a prehung door vs. a slab door. But, if the idea of installing a door yourself still feels daunting, it might be time to download Thumbtack and hire a professional near you.  

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