It may seem a trite thing to say that you simply can’t stand the doors in your house but you really have no idea how outdated an old door can make your house look until, well, you’re living with outdated doors. Our interior doors are original to the 70s and can’t look anymore archaic. They’re hollow, flat doors. Oh, and did I mention that what was once a white-painted surface in the 70s had become a 3 week old sour milk coloring? And what do we do with sour milk? Throw it out! At least, that’s the reasoning I used with Chris who complained that replacing doors was a waste of money.
I never really thought twice about doors until being given the task of picking one out to install throughout the house. 6-panel, 4-panel, 2-panel, OH MY! Who knew there were so many variations of the interior door out there! As much as Chris begged and pleaded to go with the least expensive option, I couldn’t resist my urge towards the 2 panel rounded-top. What can I say? It spoke sweet, sweet words to me. Then came the next hurdle. Not only were our existing doors ugly, they were also odd sizes, making it extremely difficult to find suitably-sized replacements. We ended up driving from one home improvement store to the other and back again to find the first three doors that would work. Along with the 32″ and 24″ doors (easier to find), we still need to find an 18″ (nearly impossible). But, we decided to start small and work our way up to that gem.
We excitedly returned home, giddy with the anticipation of a shiny, new door to install… only to find that the doorway wasn’t square. I would’ve loved to be there when the builder was originally installing these doors just to hear that conversation. “Oops guys, we built this doorway crooked… oh well, let’s just go with it.” Genius. So as Chris cursed and muttered and I crossed my fingers while doing a door dance (a slight variation of the rain dance), Chris began the tedious task of shaving off pieces of the door bit-by-bit. I think he ended up installing it and taking it down to re-size three separate times. But, boy, does that door fit like a glove now! It feels like Christmas every time I slightly nudge the door closed and it shuts softly behind me. Okay, I’ll stop door-geeking out on you! But, really, a new door makes a world of difference. Three down, nine more to go.
I. Hate. Doors.
Actually, let me rephrase that. I hate installing doors. If you’ve ever installed a door, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I know exactly what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not simple.
First of all, if you’re installing a pre-hung door, there are four angles to worry about and the angles in the frame have a finite tolerance defined by the permanent angles in the door. What makes the job difficult is that any change in the orientation of the door frame will drastically affect the look, fit, and operation of the door. I did this on an exterior door and it took me two days, and that was with someone experienced helping me.
Now, if you’re installing a door in a pre-existing frame, you have a completely different set of problems, not the least of which is the awkwardness of trying to bolt a door onto a hinge… straight. The problem I had, though, is that sometimes you go through the trouble of mounting the door and when you go to close it… rejected! It’s clearly 1/8 inch wider than the frame. OK, this really baffled me, because the door was exactly 24″ wide, and the opening was exactly 24.5″ wide. I’m not a math whiz, but I am quite sure this means the door should’ve fit. As luck would have it, I now needed a circular saw, which was just the tool I’ve been wanting… so one trip to Home Depot later, I was ready to rip my door.
My first attempt at shaving some width off was a complete failure. I tried using to old door to make a guide, but ended up with a jagged new door, a shredded old door, and a really, REALLY, close call involving my fingers and a blade (about which I never told Julie… but I guess she knows now). Fortunately, I had the sense to start small, so I still had some width to work with. I measured how much I wanted to shave off and marked a line the entire length of the door. I then just took my time and cut it free-hand (you know… man-style) and cleaned it up with a wood plane and sander. Success!
Oh. Wait. I still need to drill out a hole for the door knob and chisel out the hinges. On two more doors. There’s no convenient way to make a door fit, but my inner German dances like it’s Oktoberfest every time a door I installed closes ever so effortlessly. But I still swear I never want to install another door ever again. Good thing there’s only nine left.
The process begins. Good-bye bronze beast of a doorknob!
Attempt number two to fit the door. Maybe not the best hiding spot.
Voilah! The final product!