Tag Archives: Door

Let Us Show You the Door (Hardware)

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

Hers.

Question: what’s more suspenseful than a Game of Thrones finale?

Answer: Our barn door project.

I know we’ve left you in the dark for a bit (ok, maybe an eternity) but we’re finally back to log details for how to create the most cost efficient barn door hardware.  I promise it was worth the wait.

So, where were we?  Oh, right.  Our laundry room looked like this.

dscn0750-23-03-01

And then we installed a new washer and dryer.  The new washer stuck out further than the old one thus blocking the door from being open all the way.  Julie goes out of town.  Chris goes on a door rampage and rips it out so we’re left doorless.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Julie returns home to find said doorless laundry room.  Julie freaks out (just a little) and goes on her own rampage to find a solution.

Enter, the barn door.  *Cue the angelic music.  The barn door search is on.  We soon discover the high prices authentic barn doors are fetching.  The search is off.

But then, an idea struck.  We could BUILD a door and by “we” I mean my very talented husband… with some lots of coaxing (and beer).

Voilah, instant barn door (sort of).  Read our DIY guide for the door here.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Now that you’re caught up, let’s finally let you in on the secret of our super affordable barn door hardware.

Not sure why we were surprised after the shocking realization of the outrageous prices of barn doors, but we soon found ourselves in the same dilemma with the hardware.  The going rate for barn door hardware is the equivalent of several pairs of nice, new shoes and I had to somehow justify the new pair of boots that snuck into my shopping cart.  We needed an alternative solution especially since I seem to be cursed with expensive taste.

Seriously, every hardware inspiration I pinned on Pinterest seemed to be the most expensive.  Lucky me.  I was gravitating towards the chunkier hardware with large pulleys that made a big statement.  Don’t these make you swoon?

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

Source: A Tree Lined Street

I found the two below similar options but the price wasn’t exactly on point.

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

Source: Real Sliding Hardware, $353

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

Source: Rustica Hardware, starting at $272

So, I turned to Chris and issued a new challenge- recreating the look of this hardware for a fraction of the price.  Which, I’m pretty sure his male brain instantly translated into “project = cutting metal = sparks flying everywhere = awesome” because I haven’t heard him agree to a project that quickly… ever.

His.

Now, where were we?

Ah. Yes. Hardware.

But first things first: I had to shrink an entrance.

The door we built wasn’t going to be wide enough to fully close, i.e. a gap would always show. Why did we do such a silly thing? Because a door any wider than the one we built wouldn’t have been able to open all the way before hitting the trim for the entrance to the kitchen. So we actually put up more wood around the doorway so we could use a smaller door which, ironically, meant that we had an effectively larger doorway. What?

Anyway, I first had to removed the door stop pieces from the door frame. A lot of people don’t realize these are just wood pieces nailed onto the door frame, so eliminating a door is actually really easy, and all you need is a hammer and chisel. And sandpaper. And maybe putty. And paint.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

Next, I pulled the trim off the outside:

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

See? Now it’s just a flat frame.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

But this still didn’t solve the problem entirely, as I had to reduce the width of the doorway. My solution was to use regular 2×6 lumber. The only problem was that the 2×6 was actually too wide, so I had to rip it down to be the same width as the thickness of the frame.

Recognize that table saw, Pop?

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

If you’re like Julie and just rely on the pictures to figure out what the heck I’m talking about, behold: a narrower doorway.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

Oh and while I was nailing up one side of the trim, the other side I was about to install fell and broke a picture frame. Don’t tell Julie.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

So now I could work on hanging the door. Which would require hardware.

After looking at various hardware configurations, I was beginning to get frustrated. There’s really nothing I could find that I could easily modify into barn door hardware, and I was beginning to think we’d have to suck it up and just buy something.

But then I realized something: there’s nothing complex about barn door hardware. There are no complicated linkages, special fittings, or tight tolerances. It’s just brackets and pulleys. And they’re not even fancy brackets. So I figured if I could find the right raw materials, there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t just make my own.

After pondering the configuration, I arrived at the conclusion that apart from fasteners, I’d only need two things, metal flat stock and pulleys. Now all I had to do was design, measure, cut, support, fasten, paint, and mount everything.

I decided the easy part was going to be the track. It didn’t need to be anything more than a straight piece of flat stock, but the problem was that it needed to be over 60″ long and most hardware stores only sell flat stock in 36″ lengths. Fortunately, though, there’s a small “oddity” hardware store around the corner from us, and they had exactly what I needed (I did get a 36″ piece from Home Depot for the brackets, though).

I suppose I should clarify what I’m talking about. “Flat stock” is basically a flat steel rod. For this application, I selected 1.5″ x .125″ (that’s 1/8…) mild steel. I chose this size because it would be thick enough to make a good track and wide enough to run bolts through. I went with mild steel over stainless steel because it’s cheaper, more malleable, easier to cut, lighter, and since I’d be painting it and it would always be indoors, corrosion won’t be an issue. A tip, though: wear gloves when handling carbon steel. It will get on you.

I now had my track piece, but it was too long. So I cut it using my miter saw with a metal-cutting blade. Apparently I’m also available for plumbing work:

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

The next order of business would be to get it mounted up. Now, since this thing would be supporting the whole door all by its lonesome, it would have to be mounted to the studs in the wall. I figured out where all the studs where and then drilled holes accordingly through the metal.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

Next, I mounted a 1×6 that would double as the top trim of the door frame as well as a bracket of sorts for the track. To ensure it would support everything, I made sure to mount it to the existing door frame as well as the studs.

The real trick here was how to mount the track to the board, but also still away from the board. I found some steel bushings at Home Depot that worked perfectly, so I selected some that were big enough to fit around the lag bolts I was using, and long enough to hold the door away from the wall.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

And now for the obligatory “Greg Test” (coined after my uncle who the family always made stand on hand-built items by my Grandpa to make sure they wouldn’t crumble):

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

You know what they say, if it’s strong enough for pull-ups, it’s strong enough for a door.

OK, so now I had a door and something to hang it on… but never the twain shall meet. Yet.

The brackets were a bit trickier, as they’d require more thought. Basically, you can make your door whatever height you want and hang the track however high you want, but it’s up to the brackets to make up the difference.

Of course, this required turning steel flats into… well, I guess they’re basically hooks. But there was still a minor problem: I had a brilliant solution for the brackets, but I really had no clue what I was going to do for rollers. I pondered many solutions with limited success. I thought about porch screen rollers but figured they’re be too weak. I considered A/C pulleys but figured they’d be too bulky. Heck, I almost went with drive belt rollers but they were too expensive.

Then, as if by some twist of fate, I was met with a barn door miracle: https://www.grainger.com/product/AMERICAN-GARAGE-DOOR-Cable-Pulley-5MVF4?functionCode=P2IDP2PCP. They’re technically cable pulleys for a garage door, but they were the perfect size and material for what I needed, with just the right diameter, groove, and even a look Julie liked. And for $7 for the pair, there was no way I could go wrong.

So now that I had all the pieces, I could get to work. After debating multiple designs, I decided that I didn’t want to mess with a ton of metalwork, so I went with a simple hook style, basically an upside-down “J”. The first calculation I needed to know was how far away from the track the pulley needed to be, as this would determine the diameter of the curve. The track was 1.5″ away from the wall, but I actually wanted to door as close to the wall as possible, but also wanted it to hang straight down. After measuring the thickness of the door, I decided it needed to be set back another inch from the track, putting it at 0.5″ away from the wall. And since the bracket would be mounted on the front of the door, I went with a 2″ diameter curve so that when the pulley was in the middle of the arc of the bracket, there would be 1″ of door behind it.

So, how do you measure a 2″ curve when bending steel? Easy. Just bend it around something you know it 2″, like an iron pipe nipple:

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

I should note here that the reason I’m wearing welding gloves is because I tried heating it up with a propane torch so it would bend easier. It didn’t work. MAPP gas might get hot enough to make it nice and bendy but at the time all I had was propane, and it just wasn’t hot enough. So I had to use vise-grips, a hammer, and some good ole-fashioned elbow grease to shape it around the pipe.

Almost there…

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

Once I got it all bent up, I needed to drill holes for the bolt that would act as the “axle” for the rollers. To do this, I just set everything up on some saw horses, measured where I wanted the hole, and drilled through both sides at once to ensure they were even.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

Once all the pieces were made, I just trimmed them down to even lengths and then primed and painted them in our typical oil-rubbed bronze.

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

So now that everything was bent, drilled, trimmed, and painted, it was just a matter of mounting everything up in the proper dimensions, which is really just measuring and doing some basic math.

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

The final order of business was the trim. Remember where I tore the door trim off? Well, I replaced it with some simple 1×6 pieces that I stained to match the door. It’s the same wood that I used for the track support, so utilizing it as door trim gives form to a critical functional piece.

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

DO or DIY | DIY Barn Door Hardware

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

Materials

  • Flat stock- 1.5″x1/8″ mild steel: approximately $20
  • Stainless steel bushings: $5
  • Lag bolts and washers: $10
  • Pulleys: $7
  • 1×6 Lumber (for track support): $3
  • White Primer: $3
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint: $6
  • Door Handle: $1

Total hardware cost: $55, give or take. With LOTS of extra bolts!

And, finally, the finished product!:

After.

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

And again, here’s what the whole enchilada looks like…

DO or DIY | Barn Door Hardware DIY

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

29 Comments

Filed under Laundry Room

When the Wife’s Away, the Hulk Will Play

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Hers.

Here’s the story of what happens when I go out of town for a few days, leaving Chris behind.  When having a spare weekend without the ole ball and chain, some husbands call up their friends for an epic guys’ night, some commandeer the TV for a 24/7 Sports Center marathon (sadly, I know that’s a thing as my brothers would watch the same episode of SC over and over again until they could parrot it back), and some may even decide to go on their own trip to hunt, camp, or some other bug-infested, manly activity that makes wives shudder at the thought.

So, what does my husband do?  Something a tad different.  He turns into the Extreme Home Hulk-Over… aka goes into full demo mode.

Yup, Chris went all super-Hulk on our laundry room.  And he felt the best way to warn me of his work was with the below text.  Husbands, listen up, here’s how not to break the news to your wife that you’ve gone rogue.

photo-1_v2

Yes, it appears that we were about to venture into phase 2 of the laundry room makeover (um, I didn’t quite realize we even needed a phase 2 but apparently I was wrong).  But let’s catch you up a little, shall we?  We revealed our dramatic laundry room makeover nearly a year ago (read more here).  Short version?

We went from this:

To this:

Ah, and of course my dirty little secret stash hidden behind the door.

The door always stayed open for two reasons- 1) to easily unload the dryer which was a front loader and 2) so Chloe, our cat, could easily access her litter box which was in the right-hand corner.  This drove Chris N-U-T-S- he wanted that door closed so it would help contain the machine noise and Chloe’s less-than-stellar smelling litter.  He even proposed we cut out a doggy door so we could close the door and Chloe could still get in.  Um, no, honey, we’re not installing an interior doggy door.  I’m pretty sure that would automatically lump us in with the crazies on Animal Hoarders (no lie, I recently saw an episode that had a doggy door installed between each room of the house so the cats didn’t have to be inconvenienced by walking out of one room, down the hall, into another room… who does that?!).

So the door stayed as-is until… (fast forward to me being out of town) Chris installed our new washer/dryer set and discovered that the new dryer stuck out further and was impossible to access with the door open.

As I’m enjoying my trip and the free limo involved, my phone is being bombarded with DIY SOS’es.  Husbands, daily lesson #2 for you: seriously, don’t mess with your wife’s free limo time.

DownloadedFile

I’ll give you one guess on if you think he left it alone until I got back…

Well, here’s the first thing I saw leaning against the back of our house upon my return.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And this site greeted me in the house.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Sayanora door, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.

Because I know my husband and pretty much knew I’d be coming back to a doorless laundry room, I started digging into a potential solution.  No way was I going to leave the space open.  As cute as our teal cabinets are, I wanted to be able to close off this space.  Chris suggested a bifold door but I’m not the biggest fan of bifolds and I knew it would still drive Chris crazy because I’d still never close it due to Chloe.

And then a genius idea struck.  Finally, a way to put all those barn door inspirations I pinned on Pinterest to good use!  This would be the perfect space for a barn door!  It would slide across a track on the exterior so I could leave it open a crack for Chloe to get in and it would be a huge statement piece for that hallway.

Source: The Accent Piece

Source: Design Dump

Ah, such beauty.  We had a plan and were off!

And then I discovered how much barn doors were aaand Chris hit the brakes on the project.  He wasn’t too keen on dropping $500-700 on an old busted up door that he claimed anyone could just build.  “But it’s so full of character!” I argued.  That didn’t get me too far.  It was time to switch tactics.

“Well, hon, if anyone could just build it, why don’t you?”  Bingo.  But I wanted a barn door as genuine as possible (even if it wasn’t originally intended for a barn) and that meant genuine barn wood.  If you haven’t priced out barn wood lately, let me catch you up on how expensive it’s become.  Expensive as in $8.  Don’t make the mistake I did- assuming it was $8 a board.  I grabbed a few and started to check out at our local architectural salvage shop, only to discover that they were $8 per LINEAR FOOT, not per board.  Womp womp.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

We did find an awesome deal on reclaimed cedar planks, however (seen on the far left of the above picture).  Meh, close enough… especially considering it was only $1/foot (which ended up being $8/board).  Not too bad considering they sell new for $15 per board at home improvement stores.

And now for Chris to work his magic and convince me that building a barn door really wasn’t all that tough.  We’ll see, Hulk, we’ll see.

His.

If you read this blog regularly, you know my feelings toward doors: they make me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Sometimes I want to study quantum physics just so I can try to invent a way to eliminate the need for them entirely.

Now, by far the stupidest door in our house was our laundry room door. It was a 30″ door in a 10 sq. ft. room. For the conversion-impaired, that means that the space required for the door to swing open was 25% of the room. 25%! What idiot drew up those plans and thought, “yeah that’s an acceptable thing”? Now I understand that the doorway has to be a particular width in order to be able to fit the laundry machines in, but it’s clearly not a room where a hinged door is a sensible solution.

For a while we were somewhat content to just leave the door open, but our machines operated somewhere just shy of permanent hearing loss noise levels and the cat’s “business” can often be detected three counties away. It wasn’t until my parents gave us their old machines (thanks, Mom and Dad!) that a solution was actually required- the new machines’ plumbing cause them to stick out much further into the room, and since they’re both front-loaders you couldn’t even get them open. So now we had yet another problem with this door, and this time a solution really couldn’t wait but since the decision-maker was out of town, I had no choice but to rip it off the hinges.

Fast forward a few days and we stood in front of the doorway, pondering our newfound dilemma. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how many sensible options the builder had: a pocket door, bifold doors, double doors, etc. But, of course, they went with the option that minimized usable space in the room. And to make matters worse, every reasonable alternative I could think of would require major “modifications” to the wall, and frankly I’d rather have no door than to have to replace a wall.

And then it hit me: a barn door. Julie has been droning on for a few years about how she “dreams of having a barn door someday,” so getting her on board was a cinch. At the time I didn’t know much about barn doors but I had seen a few pictures and they looked simple enough, plus I know that in the old days a farmer would have probably built his own barn and wouldn’t waste much time on perfecting a door, so it couldn’t possibly be that complicated.

And it’s really not.

For the most part, a barn door is just a bunch of square cuts nailed together in specific dimensions. Julie picked out some antique siding that I planned on using as the “background” of the door, but after seeing the prices they wanted for actual antique barn lumber (something like $8 per linear ft…. yeah, right), I convinced Julie I had a much better solution: cedar.

I guess it’s intended for pergolas and fences, but these 2x6x8 boards were the perfect fit for our project, having just the right level of “rawness” to pull off the look we were going for, but were still quality cuts that were easy to work with. And for $8/ea they seemed like a steal:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

The only problem with these is that they can vary pretty wildly in color, and we needed three pieces that not only matched each other, but also matched the antique siding we bought. So I crawled around the lumber section showing Julie board after board trying to find a winner. The kid working there kept asking if we needed help, but frankly I think we’re beyond help with these things.

Approximately one eternity later, we had all the pieces we needed for the project. I cut two of the 2×6 cedar pieces to the overall height of the door, which for this application was 7′ (we had fairly thick trim that we wanted to cover). For the cross pieces, I just cut three pieces of uniform length. I was building a door that was 30″ wide, so the cross pieces were 30″ – 2x the 2×6 width (remember, 6″ is the width of a 2×6 BEFORE it’s milled, so it’s usually closer to 5.5″). Obviously two of the cross pieces went at the top and the bottom, but there was a bit of a debate as to where the middle piece would it go: the geometric middle, or the height at which the handle would go, which was bascially 1/3 the total height of the door. Well, we ultimately agreed that an asymmetrical look was what we really wanted, so the middle piece went at 1/3 the overall height of the door.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

To put everything together, I used two types of brackets, 90* on the backside and straight brackets on the top and bottom:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Why the 90* brackets, you ask? Well, I didn’t want any pieces to sag over time; using a 90* bracket ensures that the downward forces are applied at an angle rather than straight down, reducing the risk of any separation at the seams. The straight brackets at the top and bottom were for added rigidity, especially when moving the door around during construction.

Next, I had to put the siding together across the back of the door to created the “background” for the barn look. The only difficult part of this was that I was actually assembling it atop a pair of sawhorses and everything was technically upside down. I glued everything down with wood glue (which was probably overkill) and then finished it off with my trim nailer:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

So now I had a pretty basic door. The wood was rough so we sanded it down to avoid splinters:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Unfortunately, I wasn’t done quite yet. Julie also wanted a diagonal piece, so I used a cedar 2×3 and traced out the angles across the door sections:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

So, put it all together and what do you get? A barn door! That isn’t from a barn…

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Here’s a breakdown of all the pieces that went into it.

image_8_map

Supply and Cut List:

  • Two 2×6 cedar boards – cut to 7′ long for the sides. Purchased two at $9.97 each.
  • Three 2×6 cedar boards – cut to 19″ long for the top, bottom, and middle. Purchased one board to cut three pieces from at $9.97 each.
  • Two 2×3 cedar boards – used for the crossbeams. Purchased one piece  to cut two pieces from at $3.97 each.
  • Four old cedar siding planks – cut to 7′ long to make up the base of the door. Purchased four planks at $1/linear foot or $8 each.
  • Four right angle brackets – to hold the side boards to the top and bottom boards.
  • Two T-brackets – for center board.
  • Four straight brackets – two for the top board and two for the bottom.
  • Wood glue – already had on-hand.
  • Nails – already had on-hand.
  • Handle. $3.28.

Cost Breakdown:

  • Wood: $65
  • Brackets: $5
  • Handle: $3
  • Total: Just under $75

Click here to watch the sparks fly as I twist raw steel into some sweet custom barn door hardware!

After.

And here’s where we tell you how the door debate is now over.  Right?  Not quite.

Here’s the door when Julie passes through.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And here’s the door when Chris passes by.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

It gets quite the workout.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Good thing it looks just as good closed as it does open.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And here’s a reminder of where we started.  Pretty amazing how one door can transform a space so dramatically, huh?

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Stay tuned for the breakdown of the door hardware and track build!

32 Comments

Filed under Laundry Room

We Have An Arch Nemesis

Hers.

And it’s name is: our pantry door.  Chris and I are coming to find that we have bad door luck.  I don’t know what kind of bad door karma we picked up over the years… perhaps from my younger self slamming too many of them in teenage angst or Chris graffiti-ing his college dorm door with Irish drinking phases (he argues that his dorm was getting demolished after that semester anyway so why not pay tribute to our home land of paleness and potatoes).  Whatever it was, the door species has an enemy number one and it is us.

If you remember, our epic battle with doors began with our patio door.  After a year of living with a chewed up door from the previous owner’s dog, we finally bought a new door to replace it.  Turns out, the door didn’t fit.  A father-in-law, many colorful exclamations, and a full weekend later, the matter was finally resolved.  Read more in our post about it here.

Well, the evil door realm went dormant for a few years but, alas, it returned… with a vengeance.

But, let me start at the beginning.

You may remember our pantry renovation where we turned this disorganized, non-functional mess…

img_1857

Into this super functional, beautiful being (read more on the transformation here).

after8

We decided to replace the old pantry door with a new one that matched the rest of the new doors we’ve been installing throughout the house.

All done, right?  Wrong.  So very very wrong.

His.

I. (expletive deleted). Hate. Doors. I mean, I really hate them. We live in North Texas, a region notorious for unstable soil. What this means for us is, no matter how much care I put into expertly fitting our doors to within exact tolerances, the foundation will eventually shift one way or another and the door either won’t close or won’t stay closed. The pantry door, however,was another story. It had it out for me.

Julie was convinced we needed a door that matched all the other interior doors we were installing in the house. The pantry opening was 20″ and the smallest door I could find (without custom ordering something for like a million dollars or whatever) was 24.” “No worries,” I foolishly thought, “I’ll just cut 2″ off each side.” I was in for a bit of a surprise.

As I began cutting into the door I learned something very disheartening: doors are now such low-quality crap that they’re hollow. As in, there’s nothing between the side you open and the side you close. It’s just air. Now, I’m all about cutting costs, building efficiently, and conserving materials, but when my door is barely as sturdy as the box it came in, it tends toward the ridiculous. I’m kind of scared to knock.

Look at this junk:

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

So what did I do? Well,I had three options: order a custom door (I’d have to take out a second mortgage), buy a second door and try to figure something else out (I already wasted money on this one, why would I buy another useless cardboard box?), or do what I do best and pinch my pennies until a solution falls out. So, I took the one solid piece of the door (i.e. the outer frame, which is probably only there so you can mount hinges) and hammered it back in to make my own custom-sized door.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

After a little glue, wood filler, and frustration, I had my own custom door. Is this the most ghetto thing I’ve ever done? Yes. Did it work? Mostly. It was still a tight squeeze so I had to sand it down in a few places.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Once I got it mounted and installed the knob, I had a door that was about 80% functional and, most importantly, looked good closed. For now.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

As it turns out, the thin frame I reinstalled wasn’t quite up to the job of being, what I now realize, the most frequently operated door in the house, not to mention the fact it had a spice rack bolted to the back. Eventually the screws for the hinge managed to work themselves loose and a few had even ripped themselves out. So, effectively, the door fell off. Oops.

Hers.

Well, that didn’t go exactly as planned.  It wasn’t all lost though.  I took this as an opportunity to sneak in more “shabbiness” to our home (shh don’t tell Chris- he thinks shabby translates to junk, ha).  Besides, I had been dreaming of an old rustic-looking pantry door anyway.  None of that standard builder grade stuff here!

Come join me in my drool-fest over these fantasticly shabby doors:

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Source: Houzz via Pinterest

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Source: Two Maisons

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Source: Down to Earth Style

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Source: Cottage Living

So, here’s the part where I tell you I found the perfect shabby contender for our pantry door, right?  Right.  Here you go.  Just look at her.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

She was p-e-r-f-e-c-t.  And the best part?  I found her at a local architectural salvage place so, of course, she cost next to nothing for me to claim her.  Like $1o nothing.  Done and done.  Right?

Wrong.

Sooomeone (*ahem Chris) had to rain on my parade with the ole “I bet it’s lead paint” line.  Sigh, how I hate when the hubby proves me wrong.  Lead paint… pantry…. food… it doesn’t make for the best combo.  And now we mourn.  Goodbye old, poison-infused door.  

Sooo we were nowhere closer to keeping Chloe the cat out of turning our pantry into her personal jungle gym aka finding a pantry door.

To cheer me up, Chris drove us over to a second architectural salvage shop.  I kid you not, I sorted through the door section (which is made up of 400 or so doors) a full three times before I finally gave up and admitted they didn’t have anything that would fit the bill.  Not only that, but this place was significantly more expensive, like $60-100 per door more expensive.  I may be a little naive but isn’t paying $100 for an old beat-up door a little ridiculous, even for me?

As I made my way to the exit (moping and dragging my feet in disappointment of course), I saw an excited Chris galloping towards me.  I figured he found some old tools or, worse, the expensive set of gas logs he’s tried to talk me into for the last seven visits (what’s wrong with good ole firewood??).  But, instead, he claims to have found the perfect door… in the shutter room.  Whaa?

We rounded the corner to find piles upon piles of old house shutters stacked against each other.  It’s like the TJ Maxx of shutters in there.  Ugh, and I hate sorting.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

I decided to forfeit one clean finger to gingerly push each shutter from the other, one by one until I finally found the perfect candidate.

BOOM.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Helloooo new door.  What was most funny about this find was that finding a door for our oddly shaped pantry opening (20″ wide) had been a nightmare.  Door manufacturers apparently didn’t go that skinny.  This shutter was the perfect width!  All we had to do was trim it down a little on the bottom, which was solid wood so we wouldn’t have the problem we had with the last door which was hollow.  Also, it had all that intricate molding that made those old shabby doors look dull in comparison.  I was even sold on the black paint.  Glossy black doors ARE all the rage now, afterall.  Why not jump on that bandwagon already?

It was originally listed for $60 but, because it was a lone soldier- all the other matching shutters were either gone or didn’t make it to the store, the store discounted it down to $30 for us.  Why, yes, we will pay an additional $20 for a few extra years on our life aka a lead paint-free door.

At this point, I was on a roll.  As we walked up to the counter to pay, we passed by the door accessories room (this salvage shop is so magical).  The heavens parted and there was my antique door plate and antique crystal knob that would complete the look of our pantry door.  Mama needs some bling, mk?

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

A $5 door plate, $7 knob, and $30 door later, we were all set.  There was no stopping us now!

His.

Alright, so we had to scrap the original door idea and were back to square one. By now Julie had decided that she really wanted an antique door, and since door dimensions weren’t really standardized until later in the 20th century, I figured that might not be a bad route to take. If nothing else, older doors are probably solid wood and can be cut to size without any, um, issues. So it was off to the “architectural salvage warehouse,” i.e. overpriced junkyard.

Our first stop was in a part of town that’s… well, it was in the hood. Like, I was surprised no one pulled smash n’ grab for my car radio. Anyway, they had just about every door ever installed in Dallas before 1950, so there was plenty to choose from. One common factor, though, was that they all had the tell-tale signs of lead paint. I don’t possess the equipment, facilities, or expertise to properly remove and dispose of lead paint, and since my health insurance provider and I would prefer to avoid permanent nervous system damage I told Julie there was no way we were getting any of those doors. Sorry ’bout your bad luck…

Now, at this point Julie and I were getting into a fairly expressive argument over how I wanted her to be miserable the rest of her life by choosing my nervous system over her door, and an employee came over to see what all the fuss was about. Julie explained how much she loved toxic doors and I explained how much I love not dying, and the woman did her best to quell my fears. “Oh, you have nothing to worry about,” she said reassuringly, “I’ve been around this stuff for two whole years and I’m fine!” At that moment we both noticed that her hair probably hadn’t been washed since 1997 and she spoke through what can only be described as “meth teeth”… and we began looking for the exit.

Anyway, Julie has already told a mostly accurate story of how we found our actual door, so I’ll skip forward to what we ended up doing with it. It was in pretty sad shape when we got it and definitely needed to be cleaned up and painted, but overall the wood was in good condition except at the very bottom (this is a shot of the back side, which was never painted since it faced the side of a house in its former life as a shutter):

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Once we got it cleaned up and scraped off any stray splinters, we painted it an oil-based flat black. I really hate working with oil-based paint, but they really do lay down the best finishes.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

True to form, Julie’s original color choice didn’t last long, and a day later she decided it looked too much like a chalkboard. So I went out to buy some gloss black.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

Once it was painted, I had to cut it down to size. Remember the bit at the bottom I said was in sad shape? Well, as luck would have it, that’s exactly how much I needed to chop off!

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

The final challenge was finding a latch. We were able to re-use the hinges from the old door, but the molding and accents on the door made it just impossible enough to fit a traditional latch that we were once again scratching our heads. My brilliant solution? A ball catch, typically seen mounted on the frame of a door that presses closed. This basically made our knob a dummy knob, which meant it could be mounted anywhere we wanted.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

After.

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

DO or DIY | Pantry Door Transformation

His.

“It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is, none. None more black.”

Pop quiz- what movie is this from?

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Filed under Kitchen

Our Baby’s One Today!

Hers.

Earlier this week, we realized that today is the blog’s first birthday.  My, how time flies!

We then wondered how one goes about celebrating a blog birthday.  I mean I’ll take any excuse there is to bake a cake but that doesn’t really fit the virtual theme of the blog.

Chris thought we should revisit our favorite projects from the past year.  Not bad, but then I had the problem of selecting one.  I’m 100% more excited about my future project list than I am our past accomplishments and with Chris, vice versa.  When we’ve finished a project, he tends to take a step back, admire our work, and relish in its completion.  With me, it’s a little different.  I take a step back, admire our work, then start narrowing down my future projects list to the next contender, and usually want to start on it immediately.

Thus, we concluded that Chris would focus on his favorite 3 past projects and I would divulge my favorite 3 future projects.  Besides, settling on a blog topic that would (finally) be uniform wouldn’t be our style anyway.

So here we go…

Julie’s Top 3 FUTURE Projects:

1. Doors.

While this may not sound that glamorous, I am OBSESSED with the notion that our doors will one day all be upgraded from the current flat panel, yellowing doors from the 70s to freshly painted white, two panel doors.  Not to mention, a change from the odd, old brass door knobs to new satin nickel ones.

We have already started the process of replacing doors (more on that here).  We’re currently 3 for 13… so yeah, we have a ways to go.  Obviously, this is a more long-term goal but still, the day the last door is replaced is the day I throw the largest celebration the world has ever seen… for a door.

For the doors, we’re going from this (excuse Chris’ creepy head):

To this:

Source: Home Depot, Steves and Sons

And for the door knobs, we’re going from this:

To this:

Source: Home Depot, Kwikset

2. Headboard

I’ve been wanting to build an upholstered headboard for the guest bedroom for quite some time now.  It’s really the only thing that needs to happen before we reveal the room on the blog (patience young grasshopper).  The hold-up has been finding the perfect fabric.

A few weeks ago, as I was wandering around West Elm, I found it.  THE fabric.  Here it is on an ottoman.  The fabric’s called Rosette in platinum.

It spoke to me.  It said, “Julie, if you don’t buy up three yards of me right now, you’re an idiot.”  Done.  I rushed to find a sales associate to ring me up.  Little did I know, my heart was about to be severed in half.  She said the two little words that sent shockwaves through my shop-a-holic self: “Sold. Out.”

Noooooooooooooo.

Her only words of encouragement were, “well, we still have it in Blue Stone” (seen below).

A word of advice to all sales associates: a different available color does not immediately rectify everything.  *Sigh.

So then I contacted West Elm to see if they would be restocking inventory in the platinum color.

No.

So then I asked if they could supply the manufacturer’s name so I could order directly through them.

No.

So, now I’m back at square one.

3. Wood Floors

I have been yearning for the day that my new wood floors will enter into my life.  It’s not only a cosmetic change, it’s a necessary change.  And here’s why:

Reason One.  Our kitchen floors are NASTY.  Not because they’re not clean.  We sweep, we swiffer, we scrub, but to no avail. What we originally thought was tile (later we discovered it to be linoleum) was once a bright white color… in the 70s.  Over time, the color has yellowed and the years of constant foot traffic have worn down the surface to be a breeding ground for permanent stains.

Reason Two.  We currently have six different floors in our house.  Red brick-patterned tile in the office and powder room, white(ish) linoleum in the laundry room and kitchen, oak laminate in the dining room, 18″ beige tile in the living room, hallway, and guest bathroom, gray twist carpet in the bedrooms, and a wood-look tile in the master bathroom.  Yup, six.  And that seems like a lot for a three bedroom house.  If we at least laid down wood in the kitchen and dining room that would slim the list down to five (I would probably use the same wood-look tile from the master bathroom in the laundry room so the linoleum would be completely gone).  So, still a lot of floor options but, hey, it’s still one less.

Reason Three.

            

Right image: Mayflower Sundance Handscraped Hardwood from Lumber Liquidators

Left image: Virginia Mill Works Engineered Potomac Plank Handscraped Hardwood from Lumber Liquidators.

Enough said.

So, Chris, what’s up first?

His.

For the record, I never thought the linoleum in the kitchen was tile. Ever.

Anyway, I was shocked to find out the blog was only a year old… maybe because I’ve been doing these projects for so much longer (you didn’t think it was written in real-time, did you?).  So, I’ve decided to recap my favorite projects thus far.

Chris’ Top 3 PAST Projects:

1) Half-bath

Honestly, this project wasn’t really a big deal, but it was the first project we did, besides painting a few rooms. What’s more is that we did it together, on a really low budget. It was a fun, productive way to spend time together and the payoff was HUGE (the old bathroom was hideous, in case you don’t remember, read about that transformation here). We were elated with a feeling of accomplishment, and we eagerly showed it off to everyone who entered our home.

This project turned out to be a double-edged sword, though, as it resulted in Julie being bitten by what us car guys call “the mod bug.”  Effortlessly transforming a powder room had betrayed my handyman skills, and Julie’s eyes were filled with renovation greed.  I was doomed to a weekend life of labor.

Before.

    

After.

   

2) Master bedroom

I’ve cheated a little bit with this one, as it’s really an ongoing project. But it’s probably one of the most important ones- it’s the last room I see before I go to sleep, and the first one I see when I wake up. It’s quiet, relaxing, and private. It’s also constantly changing- painting, repainting, curtains, chairs, lights, etc. It’s also the site of the project where I PUT A NAIL THROUGH MY FINGER (read the gruesome tale here).

Normally, I hate Julie’s habitual indecision, but I have to admit that I don’t mind too much here. We’ve created a really great piece of the house that’s just for us, and I really enjoy spending time there, even if half of it has been painting.

Before.

Attempt One.

After.

3) Front door

This may be our (read: my) latest project, but it’s probably one of the ones I’m most proud of because it took a considerable amount of skill… and a sickening amount of mind-numbing labor.  Staining and finishing wood is something of a dying art, and I’ve been dabbling in it for a few years.  I think I finally managed to find the right combination of chemicals, methods, and personal touch to get the results I’ve been looking for (read the full story here).

I also felt like Hercules after mounting a solid wood door by myself.  Twice.

Before.

After.

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Filed under Site Housekeeping

Shut the Front Door

Hers.

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to use that title, although it’s, perhaps, a line that’s a little overused now (to the point that I heard a spin-off line in which a woman exclaimed, “close the front door!”).  Hm, not quite the same effect.

Moving on… our front door was in sad shape.  The stain had worn down to nearly the raw wood and the rough North Texas weather had started taking its toll on it.  In my excitement over starting the project, I failed to take before pictures but managed to scrounge up this picture from Halloween.

So, although the spider and it’s enormous web are probably the most exciting thing you’ve laid eyes on lately, the door is not.  I imagined if the door was alive, it would sigh a lot and look downtrodden like Eeyore, not exactly what we were going for in terms of curb appeal.

See the resemblance?  We needed to inject this baby with some happy pills-  that’s right, it was time to get our stain on.

So while Chris will walk through the steps of refacing a stained door in his post, I would like to take this chance to exclaim to the world how awesome my husband is!  If this outburst of affection seems random, it is.  This is me STILL groveling my way out of making him stain the door Dark Walnut then proceeding to hate the color and make him refinish it in a different stain.  Oops.

I continue to remind Chris that with a first house comes first-time projects comes trial and error.  Well, it’s not my fault that this house has been a full series of trial and errors… mostly when it comes down to selecting a color.  Chris jokes that the entire house has been repainted twice and I’m starting on the third round.  Which is NOT true.  The living room, guest bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room have all only been painted ONCE (although I may want to repaint 3 of those 5 rooms already).  Hey, live and learn, right?

Round One.  We used Minwax Dark Walnut stain from Home Depot which we used on a pair of shelves we built in our bathroom.  It looks amazing in the bathroom- a rich, dark walnut color that really compliments the rest of the bathroom.

On the front door, however, it was WAY too dark.  It lost all of its rich walnut color and instead looked like an uneven coat of black.  And while I am obsessed with black-painted doors right now, it wasn’t the look I was going for.  See?

Needless to say, a redo was in store.  I let Chris have some time to recover from the first round before we started on the second round.  What I originally thought was going to be 2 weeks became 2 months.  Finally, I couldn’t take the agony of an ugly front door any longer.  The time had come.

Round Two.  This time we used Minwax Early American stain from Home Depot.

Don’t be fooled by the picture of the stain on Home Depot’s website.  The stain has more red in it than the picture shows.  The results are fantastic!  Our sad, depressed door went from sad Eeyore to an even more sad black hole, to a beautiful, rich, welcoming entrance.  The color really compliments our oil-rubbed bronze door handle as well.

Isn’t she a beaut?  Now it’s time to do the inside!

Oh, but first I’ll let Chris have his turn to whine about detail each step of the process.

His.

I absolutely love Texas, but I have to admit that the summers really are the worst.  I grew up in South Texas where it’s hot and humid, and now I live in North Texas where it’s hot and dry… and it’s affected the way I think. For example, I took a few courses in materials science in college and when we discussed the various properties, all I could think was “yeah, but how does it stand up to the Texas heat?” It’s a climate that influences every decision you make- what kind of car you buy, what color clothes you wear, even which direction your house faces- which also why you learn how to refinish a front door.

If you’re smart, enjoy the outdoors, and live in Texas, you’ll make sure your backyard is shaded in the afternoon, which means your front door gets the worst of the summer sun. I refinished my parents’ front door a few years ago, but the door was only a few years old and really just needed a fresh coat of urethane; maybe half a day later, I had it back on the hinges looking as good as new. My door, however, was another story: it had been neglected for decades, and it looked like 100 miles of bad road. Something needed to be done but this being Texas, I’d only have a small window in which to do it.

Ah, springtime in Texas: the most beautiful time in the most beautiful place (most of you probably consider this time of year to be late winter). Also, the time when you’d better get all of your outdoor projects out of the way, because in 2 months you’ll be stuck inside until Thanksgiving. I had an excellent Saturday planned: hit the trails on my mountain bike with a friend for a few hours, recover with a few beers, and then back home to begin my summer lawn prep (if you want a green lawn in the summer here, you better start no later than March). Well, I was half right: I was greeted by Julie who announced that I was “just in time to help with the front door,” which meant that she had the camera ready to take pictures of me redoing the door by myself.

I got to work removing all the hardware. I got the handle and deadbolts off and popped the pins out of the hinges. Once I had the door free, I set it down (outer side facing upward) on two sawhorses. I got a chemical stripper that I brushed on to pull the old varnish off. Using a paint scraper, I worked my way down through the varnish and lightly sanded the wood to get a smooth finish. Since Julie and I decided we liked a dark walnut stain, there was no need to go any further. I applied the new stain as evenly as possibly and it was dark. Like, black. At this point, I was running out of daylight and hesitantly applied one coat of urethane to prevent further deterioration of the wood, knowing I’d just have to strip it off later. What a waste of time!

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was running out of nice weather. I decided it was time to re-refinish the front door, but this time I was going to do it right. I got up early (for a Saturday, anyway), set the door up, popped in my headphones, and fired up the sander. Again.

Prepping.

The first order of business was to strip off the varnish using Jasco Premium Paint and Epoxy Remover from Home Depot. Surprisingly, this is pretty easy. I applied a chemical stripper that brushes on as a gel (or non-Newtonian fluid, if you prefer). I let it sit for a few minutes before using a paint scraper to turn the old varnish into little piles of goop that I sucked up with a shop-vac before smoothing it over with a sander.

Some tight corners required a sanding block.

Now, let me show you where the two projects differ:

The first time I applied the stain, I didn’t want to go too dark. I tried brushing it on and wiping it off, but this turned out really uneven because it relies on a uniform amount of stain and soak time before wiping in order to be even, and it’s really difficult. So now it was uneven… and still too dark.

After the stain.

After the varnish.

REDO

After removing the varnish again, I had to strip off the old stain. I didn’t have to do this the first time around since we were going with a darker stain (and the wood was so faded, anyway), and I didn’t want to do it this time around… because it’s a LOT of work. I started sanding with 60-grit sandpaper, and when I wore that out I moved up to 80-grit, then 120, then 150… and finally 220. About three hours later, I had clean wood with no “dark walnut” junk on it. And my head was rattling from that stupid sander.

This time I decided to use wood conditioner (Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner from Home Depot), which supposedly makes the stain go on more evenly or something. Given how terrible the last round looked, I was willing to spend a few bucks and give it a whirl. It definitely came out more even, but I also used a slightly different method of applying the stain itself.

Finally, it was time for the new stain. I was a little nervous at this point because I really didn’t want to do this again, but I also didn’t want a door that looked like it was refinished by a rookie. I decided to stain one section of wood at a time, hoping that the joints would hide any unevenness. I also decided that this was a naturally lighter stain, so letting it soak longer would give it a really rich color. Not wiping it off at all would allow for a more even finish.

After the stain.

Applying the varnish.

The finished product.

After letting everything dry and doing a few touch-ups, I was finally satisfied with the finish. There are a few places where different types of wood were used and therefore absorbed the stain differently, but there’s really nothing I could do about that, so I’m not too worried.

Two coats of satin urethane later, I was hanging it back up and reinstalling the hardware. We had one brass deadbolt, but some faux oil rubbed bronze spray paint solved that dilemma. And the finished product:

The best part of this project is that Julie can’t saturate it with pictures of the cat. Right?

Hers.

It seems our little Chloe the cat is becoming quite the celeb.  Did you spot her cameo in one of the above shots? If you missed her, never fear, you know I took a dozen close-ups of her supervising us from the window.

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Filed under Before & After, Front Yard

Doorbuster of a Deal

Hers.

As our realtor walked us through what would soon be our first official house, only one thing made us stop dead in our tracks… and not in a good way.  We had just wrapped up looking at the backyard, turned back towards the house, began walking to the patio door and stopped.  The patio door looked like it had been attacked by gremlins trying to claw their way into the house.  What sort of beast would do such a thing to an innocent door??  Well, you can rest easy.  The world isn’t overrun with gremlins.  Just misbehaved dogs.  The owner’s dog had chewed halfway through the door over the years.  Good thing they moved out when they did because that door didn’t have much of a chance left.

Upon placing our offer on the house, we were told that the owners acknowledged the door had to be replaced and would take care of it before we moved in.  Being the penny-pinchers we were, we saw an opportunity to knock off some of the price.  We negotiated back saying- no worries, take another $1000 off the asking price and we’ll replace it ourselves.  No biggie.*

What’s the asterisk for you may be wondering?  Because, as this point, I would like to note that it seemed like a lot of work to replace an exterior door but Chris reassured me a zillion times saying he could fix it in less than a day.  It was nothing they couldn’t handle.  Nothing to worry about.  So I didn’t.  The sellers were happy.  We were happy.  Alls well that ends well.  Right?  Wrong.

I figured I’d only have to wait a month or two to rid myself of the hideous near-death door.  Chris kept saying, all I need is another set of hands and I can take care of it.  So, in enters my family.  That’s an extra FOUR sets of hands of help.  That Saturday, while Chris is at work, I excitedly venture off to a builders surplus hardware store with my dad for a heck of a door deal.  With two doorknobs, one door, and several minutes of convincing the cashier that I am NOT my Dad’s trophy wife but his daughter, we happily returned home to present our treasures to the rest of the group.

Now, my husband doesn’t anger easily.  It’s why we work so well together.  He’s the Type B to my Type A.  It takes a lot to get him riled up… like when his wife goes out and buys a door without him.  Oh, and she’s already started painting it so he can’t return it.  Yikes.  Not a fun day to be Julie.

Well, he got over it… eventually.  Until an hour later he figured out that the door frame wasn’t exactly a perfect rectangle and that I had purchased a steel door instead of a wood door.  I thought I had been smart with this purchase decision since steel would better insulate the house and be a studier door… it also is impossible to mold into a different shape meaning our un-rectangular door frame would make the project un-doable.  Yikes.  Not a fun day to be Julie.

So, I gave Chris a few months to figure it out.  He came to the conclusion that he couldn’t do it himself.  So, I did what every wife would do.  I called a professional.  Perhaps another error in my ways was scheduling the handyman to come while Chris was at work.  All I knew to do was to show him the door I bought then show him the door frame.  I prayed that would be enough.  It wasn’t.  He scratched his head for a full 45 minutes then told me I had two options.  Option 1) Pay him $900 and give him a full weekend and he could replace it for me using the door I purchased.  Umm no thanks.  Option 2) Buy a different door, this time made out of wood.  Definitely not… that would mean fessing my mistake to Chris.  Fat chance.  So I went with Option 3.  Told him thanks but no thanks, we’d figure it out ourselves.

Several months later, Chris convinces his dad to help him finally take on the door project.  Chris reassured me that with his dad’s help and Uncle Tom’s advice, they’d knock it out in no time.

2 DAYS later, and several pounds of dog hair vacuumed from the perimeter of the door frame (gross!), we had a shiny, new, partly-painted door installed.  Chris and I still fondly look over at our patio door and wonder if the $1000 knocked off the purchase price was really worth all that… and then remember the Gremlin-like markings and decide yes, indeed it was.

His.

Let me clear a few things up. When we were negotiating the details when buying the house, I said I could replace the door… I never said anything about how long it would take me. To be honest, I didn’t want to do it- I had attempted to install a door once before, and it was such a beating that we gave up. Doors are surprisingly tricky to install, and I wanted no part of it. Oh, and I definitely did NOT tell Julie it was OK to buy a door.

Doors are a finicky beast, and just about the most frustrating thing to install. Everything has to be exact… and when I say exact, I mean within 2-3 millimeters, or else the door won’t close. The more exact you are, the better your door will open and close. That said, I knew the exact dimensions the door needed to be, so when Julie announced she and her parents were going to the builder’s supply store I reiterated that I wanted to see the doors for myself so I can make sure they fit. So imagine my surprise when I got home from work on day to find Julie painting away on a now un-returnable door… that wasn’t the dimensions I gave her. I had heard it hundreds of times growing up but somehow I just couldn’t resist saying it: “That’s exactly what I told you not to do.”

As always, Julie tried to reason her mistake under the rug. She had to get the door because it was “super on-sale” and she had to paint it right away because it was a “yucky color.” She also seemed to think that there was no cause for alarm because, don’t worry, her parents were here to help us install it. Now, I like my in-laws, but they’re not DIYers, and this wasn’t a job for beginners. And let’s not forget that it was over 100* outside at the time.

I reluctantly propped our shiny new door against the wall in the garage and waited for cooler weather, and for my parents to come visit. Finally, February rolled around and we caught a break- my parents were in town and we had two days of absolutely beautiful weather, so my dad and I got to work. If you’ve never seen how a door is mounted, it’s really not much more than a few nails. We pried off the trim and I showed my dad how much fun a sawzall is, buzzing through the nails like butter. Within minutes, the old door was off, and now the fun could begin.

The new door went up, and of course didn’t fit. The problem was that there was too much space between the house and the door frame, so it would be almost impossible to mount the door in a way that the trim would cover the gaps. We shimmed and adjusted, and reshimmed and readjusted, and repeated… a lot. First, the door wouldn’t open, then it wouldn’t close, then it wouldn’t sit right, etc. The worst part is that the whole time you’re doing this, the door has to stay closed, so we had to go in and out through a window… because that doesn’t make me feel like white trash or anything.

We must have made a few million tiny adjustments all around that door before finally making desperate phone calls to anyone we knew who owned a hammer. Finally, a fellow family DIYer came through (good ole Uncle Tom) and told us the trick is to mount the hinged side on the door and frame to the house, and then shim the other side. A few hours later (time mostly spent vacuuming dog hair out of the crevices), we had a door that closes so effortlessly the cat can do it… but usually she just sits behind it and waits to get whacked when it opens.

And now for the photographic evidence.

       

  

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Filed under Living Room, Renovation

Dare to Door

Hers.

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.

His.

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!

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