Sunday, November 6, 2011

a new threshhold

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rebuilding the door frame and installing a NEW (sigh) door

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Opening some doors

I've been busy with paying work for the last couple of months.  We have been plugging away at cleaning out the debris left by the previous owners.  At times it felt like an archeological investigation.  We found some Cadillac hubcaps in the garage, some motorcycle parts (and a set of new spark plugs that will fit my truck).

But this weekend we took on a needed project:  the doors for the house.  They were left unlocked when the house was abandoned, and had not been maintained well over the years.  The front entry door was a wood 6-panel, painted white, with veneer coming off at the bottom and the substrate under the veneer disintegrating.  The back door was wood with fifteen glass panes.  It had swelled from the moisture coming up the basement steps and could not be closed; I had put a hasp and padlock on it to keep it almost closed.  In addition, since this back door faces west (the direction our weather comes from) the wood sill at the bottom was rotting away, and the lower door trim with it.

For reasons of energy efficiency and security, this is one area where we did buy new stuff.  I bought insulated steel pre-hung doors from Lowe's.  They are bored for both doorknob and deadbolt, and have a steel plate on the wall side of the door frame to reinforce that area; the deadbolt goes through a hole in the steel plate, besides the strike plate supplied with the lock on the door side of the frame.  If someone tries to kick in the door, the plate is the full width of the frame, and can hold the door even if the wood of the frame splits.

On a house this age, I was not sure how much I would have to do to replace the doors.  On some older houses, I have seen rough openings that were made tight to the door frame, rather than oversized and shimmed to fit.  I have seen some where the opening was half an inch or so too short for a modern door unit, and had to cut the space I needed out of the header (the crosspiece at the top of the opening, usually a pair of two-by-fours set in upright between the studs).  I've even had one where I had to take the pre-hung door apart, cut a few inches off the bottom, then take the threshhold off the frame, cut the frame down and put it back together.

This time was not as bad as it could have been.  These door openings had been framed both wide and high.  I ended up adding some wood on each side to fill in the space so that I could shim the doors plumb, then used 3-1/2" screws, countersunk, to hold the door to the framing; a pair of screws at each hinge, then pairs on the opposite side to match.  Once the doors were in, I installed new doorknobs and deadbolts, then re-worked the outside trim between the door frame and the brick exterior.  Inside trim will wait until we are done with the interior wall finish.

Copperhead's turn...
It is really heart breaking to have to replace beautiful old doors with cold, hard, ugly, white steel doors. Redneck worries about someone breaking in, bad weather causing even more damage to the floors and one day the door just falling off it's hinges - rightly so.  Someone stole the storm door off the front - probably got a little from the salvage yard to keep up his habits, so the door was unprotected for a long time. I had visions of making something out of it. Maybe cut the top off and do something one day but it fell apart and Redneck had to pick up little pieces from the yard once he took it out. The back door is in a little better shape - kind of cool with 15 glass panes. I bet it would be fun to put pictures behind the glass. Redneck, it is nice to actually have a key to open those doors - beats having to unscrew them every time.

We've been sorting out trash, electronics, house hold chemicals, stuff Goodwill might like and stuff to re-purpose or reuse later on. I have no idea what to make out of a set of old Caddy hub caps... Maybe CL? There were brake shoes and spark plugs and all sorts of automotive chemicals all mixed together in piles in the garage. We've hauled some stuff to the recycle place and other stuff has gone in the homeless shelter (aka: a big garbage rationing can supplied by the city) We are so privileged - we get to put out one full garbage can of stuff every week. Supposedly tomorrow we can put out extra stuff - we'll see if they actually take it or leave it to be picked up and put in the can next week - I really don't get it - all of it goes to the same place sooner or later.