Rough Openings

In the construction of any home, there are a number of openings that are framed or cut into the walls, floors and ceilings of the building in order to make a room for certain things such as windows, doors, stairways and even medicine cabinets and toilet paper holders. In construction, these areas in the framing are known as rough openings, and placement and size are very important.

Door Rough Opening

In order for something to fit into the wall and fit securely, the opening for it needs to be the right size. Too small, and it won’t fit into it; too large, and you either won’t be able to fasten the item into place, or you’ll have large gaps around it that will make it difficult to trim it out.

The size of the rough opening depends on what is going in it. Some standards and practices go into some of the openings, and some need to have a little more attention when framing.

When framing a pre-hung door, the standard is to make the rough opening two inches wider and two inches higher than the size of the door. So if you were framing for a 36-inch door, the rough opening would be 38 inches wide. Most residential doors are six feet eight inches high, which is 80 inches, so the standard rough opening height is 82 inches.

The same would apply to bi-fold doors that have a wood frame around the inside of the opening. A four-foot wide (48-inch) set of bi-fold doors with a wood frame would require an opening that was 4’2” in width (50 inches), and the height would again be 82 inches. For bi-fold doors that will be going into a drywall opening, the rough opening width should be equal to the width of the door. Now the standard for framing the height of the door is by adding ¾ to the overall height.

Bypass doors (doors that slide past one another on a track) with a wood frame, the rough opening is the overall width of the doors plus one inch, and the height would be 82 inches. If the bypass doors are going to be installed on drywall opening, you need make the rough opening one inch less than the width of the doors. This allows for the drywall and creates an overlap for the doors where they meet. The track may vary somewhat so the height of the opening typically 80 ¾ inches to 81 ¾ inches.

Pocket doors recess into a frame inside the wall. When framing a rough opening for a pocket door, the standard is to frame the door twice its size so you can fit the door and the recess into the opening. So, for a two-foot eight-inch (32-inch) pocket door and frame, the rough opening should be five-foot six-inches (66 inches). To allow enough room for the track portion of the door, you typically want to frame the door at 84 inches

Sizing a Rough Opening for a Window

As with doors, making sure that the windows rough opening is the correct size is very important. Imagine standing on a ladder with a window, setting the window in the rough opening and finding out that the opening is too small. Then you have to take the windows out, walk it down the ladder, it’s a pain. Determining the size of the rough opening depends on the window itself. Usually when building a new house, plans for the windows area already in place. You can get the window plans form the windows manufacture and build them correspondingly.

Usually wood windows, which consist of the window sash inside of a wooden frame, similar to the construction of a door, will require a rough opening that is two inches wider and taller than the size of the window.

For vinyl and aluminum windows, most manufacturers instruct that the rough opening should be the same size as the window. The manufacturer undersizes all these windows slightly to make sure that the windows fit.

These are just some general guidelines to help you in the process. Make sure to check with the manufacture to guarantee a proper installation and fit.