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Pre-Hung vs. Slab Door: What’s the Difference?

Pre-Hung vs. Slab Door: What’s the Difference?

Whether you look for a new entrance or a replacement door for a room, you can choose between two basic types, with or without a door frame. So, before you make an order, you need to know the difference between the pre-hung vs. slab door.

Both choices have their pros and cons. While the slab door is just a rectangle-shaped piece of wood (or some other material), the pre-hung door is a complete package with a frame ready for installing. That is why manufacturers recommend the pre-hung door as a better option. However, the slab door is a better choice in some cases. Let’s see.

What Is the Slab Door?

What Is the Slab Door

The slab door is actually a door itself without a door frame or additional parts. Usually, it doesn’t come with the cutouts for hinges, which makes the DIY installation tricky. In most cases, these doors are not exclusively a single piece.

Nowadays, many models have two or more panels, plus you can combine materials, such as wood and glass. The great thing is that the simplicity of this door makes it an ideal option for all custom variations. You can pick out from many, modern or traditional stab doors styles and models, and quickly find the perfect match for your home.

What Is the Pre-hung Door?

What Is the Pre-hung Door

Unlikely the stab door, the pre-hung type comes entirely or partially assembled. When you buy it, you will get the door frame, jambs, and hinges. Sometimes, the door unit contains the door sill and the weather-stripping as well, depending on the purpose of the door.

Keep in mind that the exterior pre-hung door will come with particular additional parts, which the interior door doesn’t need. However, you will get everything you need in both cases so that the installation process can take merely 15 minutes. Even though you are not highly skillful, you probably won’t need more than half an hour to finish the job.

Nowadays, most of the newly built houses have this model. Since they come with the frame, all you need is the opening in the wall, and you can mount your new door without trouble. These models usually come in standard sizes, but you can still choose among numerous patterns and materials.

The Slab Door Advantages

The Slab Door Advantages

While the slab door may not be your first choice, this model has many qualities. Buying a door without additional parts can be a big plus. The superiority of this choice to the pre-hung door is, above all, that it gives you flexibility in choosing the design, price, and size.

  • Budget – If the tight fund is one of the primary factors to consider when buying a door, the slab door is the right choice. This model is far more affordable than the pre-hung door, which can be essential when deciding to change a few of them at once. In fact, the difference in price can be several hundred dollars.
  • Time – You should choose the slab door only if you have enough time and patience to set it from scratch. Whether the door frame has already existed or you want to install a new one, with this model, you can take your time and design the final door unit the way it suits you.
  • Material – If you live in an elegant vintage house, which charm you want to preserve, the installation of the pre-hung door is often out of the question. However, you can choose reclaimed wood for the slab door. This way, you can reuse the old barn door as the sliding bathroom door, for example.
  • DIY – Setting up the slab door takes more time, but it is not as heavy as the pre-hung type. One person can lift it because this model doesn’t have the frame or hardware. That means you can install it by yourself with a little effort if you are skillful enough.

The Slab Door Disadvantages

The Slab Door Disadvantages

If you consider buying the slab door, you need to know that it has drawbacks despite its qualities and attractive price.

  • Installation – The most common problem with this type of door is installing, which requires a lot of time and skills. This door type has no frame, jambs, or precut mortises. That means you need to start from scratch. If you are not an experienced carpenter, you can have problems to make a frame and cut the mortises.
  • Labor cost – In most cases, you need to hire a professional to install your new door and pay additionally for the labor cost. However, if an existing door frame is adequately maintained, the price can be lower.

The Pre-hung Door Advantages

The Pre-hung Door Advantages

Nowadays, pre-hung doors are the standard choice for most modern homes because of the many benefits this type provides.

  • Time – One of the primary pros of this model is saving your time. You can order it online and choose the material, color, and the look of the handle without much effort. Moreover, the manufacturer ships the door on your address in a matter of days. Once the package comes, you can install the door in a short time.
  • Installation – The mounting of the pre-hung door is quite simple, and even the most unskilled person can adjust it right. Since the hinges are already attached to the door frame in most cases, you don’t need to place the joints by yourself.
  • Entrance – The pre-hung door is an excellent solution for the exterior door. It comes with the weather-stripping foam and the door sill, which provides adequate airflow and moist protection.

The Pre-hung Door Disadvantages

The Pre-hung Door Disadvantages

Despite their excellent features, the pre-hung doors have several disadvantages that can lead you to reconsider buying them. Let’s see.

  • Price – When you compare it to the slab door, the pre-hung type is much more expensive. It is because it already has the frame and ironware. However, if the existing door frame is in good shape, you can decide to save a significant amount of money and acquire the slab door.
  • Weight – The common customer complaint you can hear is that the pre-hung door is too heavy. Even if you go for a light model with a hollow core, this model is approximately 50 to 100 pounds (22.5 to 45 kg) heavy.  Therefore, lifting and mounting them single-handed is almost impossible.
  • Installation – Unfortunately, you should give up the idea of installing the pre-hung door without help. Even though you don’t need to be a skillful handyman to finish this job, you will need at least one more person to help you fit and properly adjust this door type.
  • Malfunctioning – Since the pre-hung door is weighty and sizable, the improper installation can lead to failure of the unit function, and you won’t be able to swing it without getting it stuck. Plus, if you don’t level the door correctly, it can damage the wall.

Make the Right Choice

It is probably not easy for you to decide between the pre-hung and the slab door. The choice will depend on whether there is a door frame and in what condition it is. It is also not the same if you need to renovate the whole house or you want to replace only one door.

If the door frame is preserved and you replace one door with another, the slab door is the logical investment. The same goes even if you have an authentic vintage house that the pre-hung door doesn’t fit aesthetically.

On the other hand, when the old door frame is damaged and rotten, the only solution is to take the old door out and install the pre-hung model. This unit is also the smart choice when you want to install the exterior door that offers quality weather protection.

The choice between the pre-hung door and the slab door also depends on whether you want to install the door yourself or hire a professional to do the job. It is crucial to hire someone reliable with enough experience to mount the door and place the hinges correctly.

On the other hand, you can decide to make the door installation a DIY project. In such a case, it is wiser to buy the pre-hung door because the mounting doesn’t require any particular skill. However, don’t forget that this model is quite massive, and you need help to lift and adjust it to the wall opening.

Finally, if you renovate an entire house and don’t have much time, the pre-hung door can speed up the work. The installation of this type will take much shorter than mounting the slab door. So, you can finish the complete remodeling more efficiently by choosing the pre-hung model.


Both pre-hung and slab door have their pluses and minuses. Your final decision will depend on the door purpose, the budget you have, and the style and design you prefer. In such a case, the pre-hung model has a slight advantage because it is simpler and faster to install. Nowadays, the pre-hung door seems to be more prevalent in modern homes than the slab one.