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How to Choose Between a Pre-Hung vs. a Slab Door

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated October 1, 2021
Child opens interior door to another room
Sara Monika/Image Source via Getty Images

Prehung and slab doors are both excellent choices for remodeling your interior doors, but various factors impact what option is right for you

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Installing a new interior door can seriously upgrade the look of your home, but with so many options it can be difficult to know which type to choose. Two of the most common choices are prehung and slab doors. While both are great, the one that’s right for you is determined by your project size, budget, personal preference, and more. 

Prehung doors are best if you plan on doing a complete remodel of your interior doorways. In contrast, slab doors are a common choice when there’s an existing door frame in good condition.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what each door type is, what makes them different, and how to know which one is perfect for your home.

What’s the Difference Between a Prehung and a Slab Interior Door?

Both slab and prehung doors allow you to create a new or updated entryway to any room in your home. However, what comes with each door makes all the difference in figuring out which is right for you. 

Visual illustration comparison of 2 types of doors, slab and pre-hung

Slab Door

A slab door is a basic hollow core or solid wood door without a frame, hinges, or any hardware that you’ll need to fully utilize it. The majority also don’t come with the cutouts for doorknobs and aren't painted or stained. These doors will also require extra time for preparation before you can install them.  

Pre-Hung Door

A prehung door is an all-in-one door system that comes with the door, frame, hinges, hardware, wood finish, mortises and doorknob cutout. And unlike slab doors, prehung doors are ready to install as soon as you bring them home.

Prehung vs. Slab Door: Which is Better?

Slab and prehung doors are both excellent interior door choices. Let’s look at how they compare when it comes to some essential factors in the decision-making process.

Appearance

For More Design Flexibility: Slab Door

The colors or stains that you choose for your home help you showcase your personality. With a prehung door, what you see is what you get. There’s very little, if any, customization available since it’s ready for installation once purchased. 

But, since slab doors are essentially a blank slate, you can design them to fit your style.

Cost

Budget-Friendly Option: Slab Door

When determining how much it will cost to install an interior door, a majority of your budget will go towards door type and design. And since most slab doors are only a basic piece of wood, they are cheaper than prehung doors. 

However, the price of a slab door can quickly increase based on the type of slab you want and the hardware you’ll need to install it. If you get a new door frame, this will also impact your final price.

Installation

Best for DIY: It’s a Tie

Both slab and prehung doors offer flexibility perfect for DIY projects. But, what you plan on sacrificing can ultimately determine which type is the best to DIY.

Slab Door

Because slab doors, true to their name, are essentially just slabs of wood, you’ll need to purchase and install all of the hardware yourself. And if you’ve never measured and installed hinges, mortises, and handles before, then you’ll need to dedicate time and patience to prevent door gaps. 

You can make the process easier by using your previous door and markings as indicators of where everything should go. However, this can only work if the slab you purchased is an exact fit. Existing frames also minimize your need for shims, which are small pieces of wood around the frame that helps the door hang properly.

If your slab door requires you to measure and cut it to fit your door frame, you’ll need to contact a door installation contractor near you to ensure it’s done correctly.

Prehung Door

Prehung doors don’t require you to measure and install any of the hardware yourself. The only material you’ll need to install is the doorknob. 

Because they come with all their hardware attached plus a frame, they’re much heavier than slab doors. Installing one will require you to be careful and take your time so you don’t ruin the door corners. Also, handling the door too much before installation can place stress on the frame and cause it to bend.Because of all of these factors, you’ll need someone to help you lift and install a prehung door. If you don’t have any help handy, hiring a pro may be your best bet.

Person’s hand installing a door
Elena Gurova/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Prehung vs. Slab Doors: Which Is Best for Your Home?

Prehung and slab doors are both excellent options for replacing your interior doors. However, they each solve different household needs:

For Remodeling With Frames

A slab door doesn’t come with anything besides the door itself. So, it’s suitable for your home if you’re remodeling with existing frames or if you’re not interested in changing them.

For Remodeling Without Frames

A prehung door is the entire door system that comes with a frame. So, it’s best for you if you:

  • Have an existing door frame with a damaged structure

  • Want to replace your existing door frame

  • Have no frame

For Remodeling on a Budget

If you have a smaller budget for your home renovation, then a slab door might be the better option. 

One way you can further save money with a door slab is by reusing your existing hardware. If the hardware is in good condition and you only want to change its appearance slightly, consider painting it yourself or at least giving it a good shine.

For an Updated Appearance

If you’re most concerned with updating your home, your personal preferences will determine what door type is the best option. 

If you’re just looking to update your entire door system, then prehung doors might be right for you. While they do come ready to install, you can customize the panel design, color, core and surface type, and more before they reach your home. 

However, keep in mind that your customization options might be limited to what the supplier has available.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in customizing each door in your home without any limitations, then slab doors give you the flexibility you need.

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