Will a Pull Up Bar Break My Door Frame?

If you are building a home gym, one of the equipment pieces you are probably looking to include is a door frame pull up bar. But like most people, you are possibly wondering, “Will a pull up bar break my door frame?”

And we certainly understand your concern. After all, door frames don’t always seem too strong to support the workout that comes with this kind of installation.

Well, we have done some research on door frames and doorway pull up bars to help answer your question. Read on.

How Much Weight Can a Doorway Pull Up Bar Hold?

The amount of weight supported by a door frame pull up bar will mostly depend on the design of the product and its quality. However, most door frame pull up bars will have a weight limit of 220 pounds.

If you weigh more than this, then a door frame pull up bar may not be the most recommended exercise equipment for you. It may seem to work just fine in the beginning but after being used regularly for a few months, you may see it start to come down.

For people whose weight is on the heavier side, we recommend installing a wall-mounted pull up bar. This is sturdier and more stable and some brands can support up to 600 pounds.

Can a Pull Up Bar Break Your Door Frame?

Can a Pull Up Bar Break Your Door Frame
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Now that we know how much weight is supported by a door frame pull up bar, let’s address the question that we have all been looking to find an answer to – Will a pull up bar break your door frame?

No, if installed and used correctly, a pull up bar will not break your door frame. Contrary to what many people think, the bulk of the weight of the person hanging from the bar is not usually forced directly on the frame but the pads located on the sides of the bar.

When you pull the bar down, the sides of the bar take most of the pressure off the door frame. If your pull up bar is installed properly, your weight will be distributed evenly on the sides of the bar and will not break your door frame.

The only time a pull up bar will break your frame is if the frame is not in good shape or you are heavier than the frame itself. We have discussed this in detail in the next subtopic.

Watch this video on how to do your pull ups the right way. While the video doesn’t necessarily use a doorway pull up bar, it gives you an idea of how to properly pull yourself up and down so you don’t break your door frame.

Instances When a Pull Up Bar May Break Your Door Frame

There is a good chance that you won’t break your door frame at all. Nonetheless, there are a few things that can increase the risk of this happening including:

1. Poorly Built Frames

Poorly Built Frames

Of course, if you have installed your pull up bar on a poorly built door frame, the risk of you ending up falling on your butt in the middle of a workout with a piece of broken door frame on top of you is much higher.

For example, if your door frame is glued into place instead of being nailed into the wall, you may have trouble setting up a very strong pull up bar.

Older or damaged frames are also something to be on the lookout for. If your house is older, it would be wise to check the door frames before installing your equipment.

Examine them carefully to see if they are mounted properly onto the wall and there are no separation gaps between them and the wall. If the trim is cracked, separated from the wall, or shows any other signs of damages, do not set up your bar.

2. Poor Frame Material

Poor Frame Material

The material used to make your door trim can tell you whether your pull up bar will last up there or not. If your frame is not made from traditional wood, think twice before installing your bar. Wood is durable and sturdy enough to support heavy bodyweight without breaking.

However, keep in mind that these days there are door frames made of vinyl too that look exactly like wood. While these may be built with a texture and grain mimicking that of wood, the material used to make them is primarily PVC and will likely not support your installation. If you have a vinyl door frame, rethink your installation.

3. Misuse of the Pull Up Bar

If you use your pull up bar correctly, you will not have to worry about breaking your door frame. The best way to use a pull up bar is to simply pull yourself up and down in a controlled manner.

Do not wildly swing back and forth, as this can slowly pull your door frame out of place together with the attached pull bar.

4. Installing the Wrong Pull Up Bar

One of the mistakes most people make while buying a door frame pull up bar is going with the reviews rather than with the dimensions of their door.

If a pull up bar is too wide or too narrow, it will surely do a number on your door frame. As such, there are a few things you should put into consideration when buying your doorway pull up bar. Here are the two most important:

  • The width of the door: Before you head out to the store, measure the width of your door; it will help you find a bar that properly fits in your doorway.
  • The depth of the door frame: Check to see that the frame of your door is not thicker than 8 inches.

5. Installing a Product Without Protective Pads

Installing a Product Without Protective Pads

With more and more people looking for pull up bars that don’t damage their door frames, doorway pull up bar manufacturers are now producing bars with protective pads not only to provide a better grip but also to protect the door frame from damages.

To keep your door trim in good shape, make sure your pull up bar has protective padding. While at it though, avoid products with foam padding. These are usually low quality and will not keep your door protected in the longer term. Look for a pull up bar with rubber padding and a flexible design to fit in a wide range of door frames.

How to Know If Your Door Frame Can Support a Pull Up Bar

How to Know If Your Door Frame Can Support a Pull Up Bar

There are a number of ways through which you can test the ability of your door frame to hold a pull up bar. For instance:

Doing the Finger Test

A finger test can help you figure out how much space you have above the frame to support the new installation. Simply place your fingers over the door frame and feel if there is a space wide enough for gripping. Ideally, there should be about 2 inches worth of space.

Looking for Nails and Nailheads

As we stated earlier, you should only install a pull up bar on nailed door frames. Because adhesives are not long-term, glued frames are not durable and may come off or break when a pull up bar is attached to them.

Run your fingers across the surface and edges of the frame to check for nails. If you can see or feel nailheads, then the frame is nailed and should be able to support the pull up bar.

Hanging From the Frame

The top frame of your door is designed to support a specific amount of weight. Hang on it through your fingers for some time and you will know if it can support your weight or not. Try doing some pull ups while at it. If you do not feel any cracking sounds, then it should be good to go.

Don’t wear gloves while doing this, as they may get slippery when they come into contact with the wood. However, once you have installed the pull bar, you can use gloves during the workouts especially if you have sensitive hands; they will keep you from developing calluses. Good gloves can also help in strengthening the grip.

If you have a weighted vest, put it on. This will help increase the testing force so you have an idea of just how much your door frame can hold. Do pull ups with the added weight, making sure to listen to any wobbling sound.

The Takeaway

It’s unlikely that a pull up bar will break your door frame. However, the right preparations must be done before the installation to make sure the equipment is set correctly.

To make sure your pull up bar serves its purpose without damaging the door frame, ensure that the frame itself is in good condition, nailed firmly to the wall, and can actually support your body weight. And once you have installed your bar, avoid misusing it by swinging wildly. Do your pull ups in a controlled manner and you won’t have to worry about breaking your door trim.

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