How to Install Bilco Door in 3 Easy Steps

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Written by: Mohammad Sameer

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Looking for a way to let more natural light into your basement? Installing a Bilco door is an excellent option. These steel doors allow you to access your basement easily while still maintaining security.

Installing a Bilco door is a big project but can definitely be a DIY job if you’re up for it. In this guide, I’ll walk you step-by-step through the door installation process.

We’ll cover everything you need to know, from preparing the rough opening to installing the door frame and adjusting the hardware. I’ll also provide tips to make the process smoother.

Let’s get started! Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Preparing the rough opening
  • Installing the door frame
  • Hanging the Bilco door
  • Adjusting the hardware
  • Weatherproofing

Follow along with these steps, and you’ll have a fully functioning Bilco door providing natural light and access to your basement. The process takes time and muscle but it’s totally doable if you’re up for a weekend project. Let’s begin!

What is a BILCO Door and Why Install One in Your Basement?

What are Bilco Doors?

If you have a basement in your home, you may have wondered about installing a special type of door called a BILCO door. These heavy-duty doors provide safe and easy access to your basement.

A BILCO door is a basement door that opens outward and sits flush with the ground. The name BILCO comes from the company that first manufactured these types of doors. BILCO doors are made with heavy gauge steel and come with a lock for security.

So why install a BILCO basement door? Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Easy access to your basement – A BILCO door provides straight access to your basement, without having to go through the rest of your home. This makes it easy to carry boxes, furniture, or appliances in and out.
  • Let’s in natural light – Many BILCO doors have a glass panel. This allows natural light into your basement, making it feel brighter and more inviting.
  • Increased security – The durable steel construction and lock on a BILCO door help keep your basement secure. These doors are difficult to force open.
  • Blends into the landscape – When closed, a BILCO door sits flush with the ground, blending right into your home’s landscaping. The doors come with a camouflage design to help them blend in even more.
  • Custom installation – BILCO doors are custom fit to the specific measurements of your home. This ensures a tight seal and seamless installation.

Installing a BILCO door takes careful preparation and measurement. The key steps include:

  • Measure the basement door opening carefully.
  • Pour a concrete collar that your BILCO door will sit on.
  • Fasten the steel door frame securely into the collar.
  • Install the BILCO door into the frame using the provider’s instructions.

With the right process, you can have a fully functioning BILCO basement door installed in your home. This type of door provides safety, security, and easy access to your basement space. Consider adding one if you need a replacement basement door or are finishing a new basement.

Materials and Tools Needed

Before you begin the installation process, it’s essential to gather all the necessary materials and tools. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Tape measure & square
  • Level & chalk line
  • Cordless drill & drill bit
  • Socket wrench set
  • Utility knife
  • Phillips screwdriver & pry bar
  • Hammer & shovel
  • Spade bit & post hole digger
  • Concrete mix & masonry nails
  • Carpenter’s level

How to Install Bilco Doors: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Install Bilco Doors

How to Install a BILCO Basement Door Step-by-Step

Installing a BILCO basement door provides convenient access to your basement while blending into your home’s landscaping. With the right preparation and process, you can install a BILCO door properly yourself. Follow these key steps:

Step 1: Prepare the Opening

The first step is to measure and prepare the basement door opening:

  • Measure carefully – Use a tape measure to measure the height and width of the opening where the BILCO door will be installed. Order a door that fits these exact measurements. BILCO doors come in standard and custom sizes.
  • Remove any existing door or hatch – Use a pry bar and hammer to remove any old basement door or hatch currently in the opening. Dispose of the old door properly.
  • Clean and level the opening – Use a wire brush and shop vacuum to clean out the opening. Remove any dirt or debris. Check that the sill plate is level using a 4-foot level. Grind or use shims to level the sill if needed.

Proper preparation of the basement door opening ensures your new BILCO door will fit right and be installed smoothly.

Step 2: Install the Frame

With the opening ready, it’s time to put in the steel door frame:

  • Assemble the frame – The BILCO door frame comes in pieces. Bolt the jambs and header together using the provided hardware.
  • Mark anchor holes – Place the assembled frame in the opening. Level it and mark the spots for the anchor bolt holes using a pencil.
  • Drill holes – Remove the frame and use a power drill with a carbide tip bit to drill the marked holes. Drill deep enough for the anchor bolts to be flush.
  • Set anchor bolts – Hammer the anchor bolts into the drilled holes. Make sure they are seated fully.
  • Attach frame – Place the frame back into the opening and align it with the anchors. Use the provided nuts and washers to secure the frame firmly to the foundation.

The sturdy steel frame provides structural support and acts as the mounting point for your BILCO door.

Step 3: Install the Door

With the frame in place, installing the BILCO door itself is straightforward:

  • Align the door – Sit the BILCO door centred in the frame. Align the pre-drilled holes.
  • Install hinges – Bolt the door hinges into the pre-drilled holes using the provided hardware.
  • Install door closer – Mount the pneumatic closer arm and bracket onto the frame and door. This automatically closes the door.
  • Caulk perimeter – Run a bead of exterior silicone caulk around the door’s frame to seal it.

Follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions for your model of BILCO door as well. With a few simple tools and proper processes, you can install a basement walkout door on your own.

Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand on any part of this how-to guide for installing BILCO doors. I aimed to provide useful step-by-step instructions optimized for search.

Safety Tips for Installing Bilco Doors

When installing Bilco doors, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some safety tips to follow during the installation process:

  1. Always wear protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, when working with power tools or around sharp objects.
  2. Ensure the work area is well-ventilated and free from debris to prevent accidents.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and use a level to ensure the door is installed correctly.
  4. Use shims to level the door if necessary and ensure it is properly sealed and weather-stripped to prevent drafts and water infiltration.
  5. Check that the door opener is working correctly before using it and keep fingers and other body parts away from door hinges and other moving parts.
  6. Be cautious when opening and closing the door to avoid slamming it shut and never force the door if it is jammed.
  7. Keep children and pets away from the door while it is in use and never prop the door open with an object.
  8. Regularly inspect the door to ensure it is in good working condition and follow local building codes during installation.

FAQs: Bilco Door Installation

What are Bilco doors made of?

Bilco doors are primarily made of high-quality, heavy-gauge steel or polyethylene for durability and long-lasting performance. The steel versions are usually coated with a protective layer to prevent corrosion and ensure extended life.

Can Bilco doors be customized?

Yes, Bilco doors can be customized to an extent. Depending on the manufacturer, you can have doors painted in different colours to match your home exterior. You also have the choice between steel and polyethylene doors.

How much does it typically cost to install a Bilco door?

The cost to install a Bilco door varies greatly, depending on the model, material, customization, and your location. On average, you can expect to spend between $1,000 to $2,500. This price includes both the door itself and the installation cost.

How long does it take to install a Bilco door?

The installation of a Bilco door typically takes between 6 to 8 hours if done by a professional. This timeline can vary depending on the complexity of the installation, existing site conditions, and whether any modifications are required.

Can I install a Bilco door myself?

Yes, it’s possible to install a Bilco door yourself, but it requires a good understanding of construction principles, the ability to use a range of power tools, and a significant amount of time. While a DIY installation can save you some money, there are potential risks involved, and any mistakes could lead to water leakage, poor fit, or even structural issues.

How often do Bilco doors need maintenance?

Maintenance of Bilco doors depends on their exposure to the elements and usage. As a general rule, it’s advisable to inspect your door at least once a year. Check for any signs of rust, corrosion, or damage. Steel doors should be periodically painted to prevent rust. The hardware, including hinges and locks, should be lubricated annually to ensure smooth operation. Regular maintenance extends the life of the door and prevents costly repairs in the future.


Installing a BILCO basement door provides convenient access while enhancing security and letting natural light into your basement. By carefully measuring, preparing the opening, installing the sturdy steel frame, and mounting the door itself, you can have a professionally installed look. Follow each step properly, use the right tools, and don’t take shortcuts.

While it takes time and physical work, putting in a BILCO door is a DIY project a motivated homeowner can absolutely take on. The investment of effort pays off every time you open your basement door to grab tools or carry a load of laundry. And you’ll have the satisfaction of having done the installation yourself.

A BILCO door maximizes the usefulness of your basement while blending seamlessly into your home’s landscape. With the tips in this guide, you can install one properly and enjoy the benefits for years to come.

Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this conclusion in any way. I aimed to summarize the key points and benefits of installing a BILCO basement door in a search-optimized manner.

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About Mohammad Sameer

My name is Mohammad Sameer, the founder of SoundproofGears. My hypersensitive hearing turned me into a lifelong seeker of silence. After years of research, I've become an expert on soundproofing techniques and materials. In November 2022 I launched this site to share my knowledge and help others find acoustic sanctuary. About More