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Door Q's & A's

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Purchasing | Installing | Squaring | Sliding Problems | Shims | Replacing
Other Problems

Buying Door that is Halved

Where can I buy interior doors that are split so you can open the top and bottom separately. Or can I cut my existing door to do that.

For doors like that, try your local home supply stores, like home depot or the like.. We have some good lumberyards nearby and a place called "the House of Doors" that carry all kinds of doors.

I wouldn't recommend just cutting one in half. Of course you would need to add a hinge or even move the middle one up or down as well.
Also, unless the door is solid and few are, the split will open up the open core, or split it across a panel. It could be done with the right door, with a rail in the right place. But I am thinking you would like the appearance better if the door was built to be split.

Replacement Cellar Doors

I live in Atlanta. Can you recommend anywhere that would sell a replacement cellar door. The only thing I've seen is from Steel Way that requires me to provide the measurements, and they ship a steel cellar door. Their product looks great, but I am concerned about providing incorrect measurements and not being able to find someone to install a $700 door!

Have you checked your local hardware/building supply stores? Bilco makes steel cellar doors which are sold at building supply stores come in standard sizes and go for between 260 and 300 dollars.

Special Hinges

I want to install French doors that swing both way. What are the name of the hinges I need?

I have a catalogue that calls them "double action" hinges.

Framing a Doorway

We tore out a wall and want to put in a doorway how do we do this?

Is this an interior doorway? I am going to guess it is. I will also guess that the wall was not load bearing. You might already know it was, if it was, by the collapsing floor from above... So... a door way is framed ... gee I wish I could draw you a picture. okay.. the sill or sole plate will stop on either side at the width of the rough opening for the door. The first studs on either side, the jack studs, go only as high as the rough opening of the doorway. On top of those go a double header. Since it is none load bearing a 2x6 header is sufficient. Use two 2x6's with a piece of 1/2 plywood sandwiched between. (that will make it the same thickness as the wall). The header will rest on top of the jack studs. On either side of the jack studs will be full length studs that will go from the sole plate to the top plate. Above the header you should install cripple studs which extend from the header to the top plate.These should be place on 16 in centers lined up with the rest of the wall. (So a piece of drywall will land right on the center).
If I get a picture posted on here tonight I will let you know.

Contact me to place your ad here

Installing Exterior Door

I have a small window (18"x51") which I want to remove and install a 32"x80" jam. the window is exactly 80" from the floor. how big of a opening do I need to cut in order to install this jam?
I want to keep the demolition to a minimum so do I need to remove all the plaster/wood over the window or can I just slide the jam under that part of the window opening. this door will be on the first floor of a two story house.

No.. you are in for a little more than you think. The doors header needs to be supported all the way to the floor. The windows framing will be too small, and will all need to come out. Some support for the floor above is in order while you remove the window and studs and frame in the new opening. The door will have a rough opening size that you need to make the framing dimensions. The header should be double 2x6's (sandwich 1/2 in plywood between to make the total width equal to your wall's) and supported by one stud under each side at the edge and one next to each of those going from sill plate to top plate.

Constructing Pocket Door

I am remodeling my kitchen in my new house. The plans include installing a pocket door separating the laundry from the kitchen. This wall is to be used for hanging cabinets and housing a light switch and an outlet. There seems to be a lack of information on how to construct a pocket door with the kit used to do so. The kit only includes a track, guides and the wheels for the door. How are these pocket door walls constructed and could I just place a 2x2 wall next to it to receive the cabinets?

A pocket doorframe is typically made out of 1"x3" or 1"x4" lumber. This is so the door has enough room to travel into the wall and the wall is still only standard 2x4 thickness. That light of a frame can not support cabinets, (some light shelves maybe) ,and there is no room to install any electrical in the section of wall that the door slides into.

Installing Sliding Closet Doors

Our newly built house (we were the general contractors) has sliding closet doors which we need to finish installing (they are already hanging, we need to install floor bracket and some bracket that attaches to the door). We have berber carpet and I am afraid of cutting the carpet to put the floor bracket down, in case of a run. Also I can not figure out how the bracket attaches to the door? I know it is supposed to act a door stop. I am thinking that my doors need to be switched (?).

If the doors are hanging (and sliding), they don't need any additional hardware. You can either cut a small X in the carpet with a razor knife or just put a drill bit through it when you drill holes for the guides - assuming it's a wood subfloor. If you use the drill bit, some of the fiber will wind up on it, but no harm. Then just screw the screws throughout the carpet and into the subfloor. You might have to put some kind of spacer under the guide depending on how high the bottom of the doors are from the carpet. If it's a concrete subfloor, use a masonry drill bit and put a wall or lead anchor in the hole to attach the screws to.

Installing New Pre-Hung Exterior Door

I have replaced floor on porch and want to close in to make a laundry room. I purchased a pre-hung door. Do I need to cut away part of the floor for the door sill or does it sit directly on top of the floor? I have not put down floor covering yet or finished framing walls.

You can set it right on the floor. It would typically sit on the subfloor (not the underlayment if you have any) Then the underlayment or hardwood floor etc., would butt right up to it.
Removing oil stains from vinyl front door Recently moved to new home, previous home owner stained vinyl? front door with what appears to be oil based stain. Looks horrible with runs and streaks everywhere. Would like to remove stain and paint door. What product can I use to remove stain, without damaging vinyl door?
Have never heard of a vinyl door. Do you mean just the trim around a window in the door for instance?
Get some methyl hydrate, use a rag and it should just come right off. The vinyl may be discolored but it
should be able to be removed. If the methyl hydrate does not work try paint thinner or varsol.

Door Frames Need Squaring

The doors in my house are out of square with the frames. How do I square up the frames? The house is about 15 years old. The people I have talked to say to shim the frame. Is that a workable solution or not? And if so, how do you do that?

To square the frames, you need to remove the trim boards around the frame. Be careful removing them so they don't have to be replaced. Once they are removed, you should see the shims and blocks used to square the frame originally. The rough openings are always cut bigger, so there will always be some shimming involved. Pry out the bottom or top that needs to be moved out and insert another shim. (small wedge of wood, a cedar shingle works well) If you wish to move a side in, pry it out and remove some of the shim and renail it.

Finally reinstall your trim molding. By the way. It is often better to pull any nails through the back of the wood, rather than hammer them back out of the front. When they are pushed out of the front, they often splinter the wood around the

Adjusting Crooked Doors

I have two interior doors in my home which no longer latch properly. Under examination I discovered that they no longer hang correctly in the door frame. How does one make minor adjustments to correct a crooked door?

For minor adjustments, you can unscrew the hinge from the top or bottom of the door frame and add a shim of a few pieces of paper to bring it up or down in the frame. Adding a little to the bottom will raise the door at the latch, adding to the top will lower the door.

You may also, depending on the latch in the frame, be able to adjust that, up or down a little. Loosen the screws and see if it will up or down enough to get it to work.

Door Frame Not Square

Another quick question about the cottage out in the woods. The main door into the cottage is very difficult to open and close because it sticks on the bottom. The door frame is badly out of square -- there's more than a quarter inch difference from one edge to the other across the top. So naturally the bottom of the door is more than a quarter inch too low on the side opposite the hinges. I know the easy way to handle this is simply to cut a bit off the bottom of the door and leave it at that. But is that a band aid approach, just sticking my head in the sand? Is the movement of the door frame a symptom of a bigger problem? This part of the cottage was built in 1932, and my understanding is that it's been this way for years but it does not appear to be getting worse. (My wife and I have only owned the cottage for a few months, so we don't have any first hand knowledge of how long it's been like this.)
Finally, if this is something we should fix, what's the best way to get the door frame (and perhaps the whole wall) back into square?

Do not even try to get the whole house square. It will cause you more problems them help. The house has settled to where it is so work with it NOT against it. If you try and straighten walls and such you will be popping nails left right and center and you may make matters much much worse.IF the gap on the door is on the knob side at the top then move you hinge in at the top. You will have to chisel out the area to accept it. As well look at the hinge itself. Check the screws and even tighten them. After many many years you may only have one screw that isholding it which may have caused the whole door to DROP. You need to make sure the hinge side is totally secure before you start to plane down the door itself. Also on the knob side check the stike plate and make sure that is not causing a problem. Look at the door really really careful with a bright light on one side to see where it is hitting.

Doors Out of Plumb; How to Fix

What could a good carpenter do? And is there anything at all that can be done for the sloping floor?
Just bought a newly constructed house. One interior bath door & the front door do not fit in the frames. Both fit at bottom frame on side, but stick out about an inch from top of frame. Builder says there is nothing she can do about the problem. Is this true? The bathroom, by the way, has a sloping floor which she also said she wasn't prepared to fix, but the other doors in the bathroom fit okay. Is she telling me the truth? Can't anything be doneto fix these doors?

Well, depending upon how bad a framing job was done and depending upon how badly the doors were hung this may be true. But the bottom line is a good carpenter could generally account for these imperfections and have a door close the way it should...
Well, a properly hung door closes flush.But if the framing is not plumb, installing it so that the door closes flush may mean that the jambs will not sit properly in the rough opening and that there will be a gap from the jamb to the drywall which should not be there. In this case, the only thing that can be done is to rip extension jambs to make up any difference so that the molding can be applied as it should.
The bottom line here is that the contractor has not built the way he/she should have. The framing as well as the floors sound like they are out of whack and this should not be. Most states require at minimum a 1 year warranty on new construction. Sounds to me like you have a good legal case against the builder.

Hanging Sliding Closet Doors

We had sliding doors which came off the rails. We bought new rails and screwed them in. We hung the doors but can't get them to hang right to slide past each other. We were told to screw in a secondary screw after the doors were hung but had trouble getting these screws in while the doors were hanging.
Any advice on this process? We have never hung doors like this and are mystified on the physics of how they hang and then slide...

I don't know what the secondary screw is, but make sure the glides attached to the tops of the doors are the correct type for the rails you installed (you only mentioned new rails). If you installed both new rails and glides (they should come together in a kit) make sure you have the forward door glides in the forward rail and the rear door glides in the rear rail - they have different offsets allowing the doors to pass each other. The glides for the front and rear doors are not the same usually. The rear door glides are more offset to position the door further back. The front door glides are less offset to position the door more toward the front. If you don't install them in this manner the doors will not pass each other.

Sliding Closet Doors Off Track

My sliding closet doors came off the track. I cannot seem to get them hung back up. Is there a trick for getting the rollers back on the track? They were working fine until now.

Often you need to hold the door way out into the room.. at an angle. Know what I mean? Placing the top of the door on or against the track, pull the bottom of the door out into the room towards you. Then it should be able to get onto the track.

Putting Pocket Door Back Onto Roller Bracket

I too have a pocket door in a bathroom that has just about fallen off the front "roller bracket". How do I fix this? Do I have to break the wall down to access/remove the door itself and screw the bracket back into the door?

There should be a molding strip of wood around the doorframe on the pocket side. Look up to see which way the track is hung; the door comes off by tilting it away from the direction of the rail. E.g., the rail is "J" shaped so the door tilts J> that way. Run a razor knife down the corner of the molding on the side the door will tilt out on, to cut any paint holding on the wood strip. Then work a chisel behind to slowly take this strip off. It is probably held on by a number of brad nails or staples. Once this strip is off, you should be able to close the door, and swing it out and off.

Interior Door Won't Stay Open

I would like to know how I go about fixing an Interior door that will not remain all the way open , it wants to swing partially closed.

That is usually caused by the door not hanging level in the frame. Try this, if it swings open, then add some shims under the upper hinge. If it swings shut, add them to the lower hinge.

Unscrew the hinge from the jam. If the are three hinges, one in the middle, loosen the middle one.
Then put a two or three pieces of paper behind the hinge and screw it back in. You can then put half the number of pieces behind the middle hinge. Tighten them all up and check the door.

You may need to add a few more. Hopefully you can correct it this way and the door will still fit in the frame and close. You don't need a lot, especially if the door is not far out of level.


Measuring | Jamb/Frame Issues

Replacing Exterior Door: Measurements

I'm looking to replace an exterior door but was told that the existing door had been cut down to fit. What measurements do I take when going to buy the replacement? The frame on the existing door is shot so I'm thinking a pre-hung door would be best.

Measure the rough opening - the space between the studs and from the header to the floor.

Replacing Sliding Closet Doors

I need to replace the missing sliding closet doors in my bedroom. How do you measure for the proper size?

Measure across the opening. If it is 60", then you can get two 32" sliding doors, providing 4" of overlap in the center. The doors come in different widths (e.g. 28", 30", 32") so just make sure they are wide enough to cover the entire opening.

Entry Doors Need New Jam/Frame

Our home is in bad need of a new door jam/door frame. I was wondering the best way to measure and do the job myself. Can I buy a new door jam or do I have to replace the door with it. Also is it a difficult job, or can just about anyone do it?

It would be easiest to replace the door as well.
(you can get a real nice one) I have not seen just the door jams for sale, so that route may be harder just from the standpoint of finding what you need.

If your house is relatively new, the door size is pretty standard. 3 ft or 2 ft 8 inch. Most main front doors are 3 ft. but measure. If the whole opening is about 3 ft, it is a 3 foot door. Note the actual size of the door is less that 3 foot.

To remove the old door jam, remove the trim from around the door. Find the places it is screwed and/or nailed in and remove those. Note that often the hinges are secured through the jam into the framing with long screws for support. This may also be true of any dead bolt slots. Pry out the jam and remove the shim boards they used to square it up into the frame. Take a look at how it was in there, because chances are they did it right and you can put the new one in the same way.

The rough opening should be big enough with room to spare around the edges for the new door. Again, use shim boards to square it up and level it, both vertically (in both directions) and horizontally. When you have it squared up, nail and screw it in.

Reinstall the trim, and say.. yes.. I can do it.. but NO, not anyone can.

Removing Interior Door & Frame

We need to put an oversized couch in our basement and it seems removing the interior basement door and frame is the only way it'll fit. Is this difficult to do for people with no skills? Do we just pry the molding off and the take the frame out?

That depends on several things. first the type of jamb, and how much extra room you'll need. if you need little more space some jambs you can simply pry off the small stop that the door rests against when closed however some jambs have the stop molded in, and there is no way to separate it.
The best way to remove an interior door no matter what type is to pry off the molding (casing) from the door jamb and sheetrock on the opposite side the door opens.
Take the door off the hinges. next cut the nails that secure the jamb to the studs (try a saw-zall or a long chisel will work) Next set the nails on the other side that nail the casing to the wall.
When ready push gingerly the jamb toward the side with the trim still attached to the door. This method will make easier to reinstall the door.
However be advised this still will only give you an additional 2 inches to the framing.

Exterior Door Replacing Window

I have a wood frame house with wood siding covered by aluminum siding. I am replacing a window with a pre-hung door 32 X 80 (window was 32 by 50, header above window is 2 2X10's supported by framing, the 2 X 10s extend over an area of about 40 inches -- so it's much wider than the window or door). I'm planning on adding 2X4 vertical studs after I loosely put in the doorframe. Attach the studs to the header and toe jamb and then put in horizontal 2X4's at floor level to fill in the space between the door frame and the vertical framing that is supporting the header.

I have a few questions.
(1) There is a 2X4 that lies horizontally at a little higher level than the wood flooring. This 2X4 is a part of the framing but is not the toe plate (which lies below it, toe plate is probably a 2X6 or 8). Can I safely cut this 2X4 so that the door jamb lies at the same level as the flooring?

(2) When I install the door frame, how much of that aluminum siding do I cut back? I assume that the framing for the top of the window (with it's aluminum channel, etc.) can be left in place. But the sides need to be cut back (I have some J channels of the same color aluminum to finish the cuts with) and I don't know how far to cut. The door I had made up has a small brick molding (which could be removed) and I assume that I have to cut aluminum siding back further than that molding, then should the moiling butt up against that J channel that I finish the cut with. What about the wood siding beneath the aluminum, do I cut that back too? There's flat wood beneath the overlapping wood siding -- it looks like the only way to seal that brick moiling flat up against the house (with no gaps) would be to go all the way back to the underlying wood? Is this correct?

(3) Finally, what do I put down beneath the jamb. I've read about putting down a rubber sheet, with a fold back towards the outside to keep out blowing water. I've also read about using 30 lb. felt paper and roofing cement? What's the best way to do this?

Ok, I'll try...
Q1: The 2x4 is either a diagonal brace member of the wall, or a horizontal firestop. Either way it can be safely removed...
Q2: Difficult to answer. What you are REALLY asking is should you but the brick mold of the new door to the house sheathing or to the wood clapboard.. The answer lies in how you order the door. The ONLY portion of siding that NEEDS to be cut back is the aluminum. If you can temporarily place the preying door, take a pencil and mark the outline of the door brick mold on the alum siding, remove the door, then cut away the alum can add the j cannel to the cut areas (less a little so they and the door fit), then install the door. Q3: Most important flashing is the flashing over the RO. But you should start your flashing either of paper, membrane or other, so that the first part laps under the door and over the bottom of the threshold... Then add the sidepieces so they lap over the bottom flashing, then add the upper flashing so it covers the top area...

Metal Door Frames

Our circa 1950's ranch has its original metal doorframes to the rooms and closets. I want to replace these but don't know how to remove them. Is this relatively straightforward, or should we call in a professional?

It would depend on how much you are willing to tackle right? To remove them, take a good look up and down their length. They will be attached with screws (or nails) into the walls rough opening. If they are, screws (likely with metal) unscrew them all. Then little by little pry the frame away from the walls, it should come off. If you find a particularly stubborn area, look for another screw you may have missed. I should add that you would need to remove any molding from both sides of the doorframe first if there is any.

Door Jam Removal

What is the easiest way to remove an old door jam to replace with a pre-hung door.

Remove door casing both sides as well as hinges so the long screws in them don't come back to haunt you. If low end of casing is at floor level or higher, place your pry bar in the small space between the jamb and the stud. Pound the bar in if you must then pry the low end of that jamb toward the other. In effect, tear it away. Do the same to the other side. If the top piece has not come off with one of the sides by then, pry it out too. If the low end of the jamb is "sunk" below floor level then saw a foot or so off the jamb before prying.

Oops! Locked-Out Door Disaster

For our family fiasco today, I locked myself, my husband, 4 yr. old, and 4 month old out of the house as we were leaving to head to our big family dinner! We had all our stuff & 2 vehicles and no keys! So, rather jokingly I told my husband to kick in the door - well, I turned around and the next thing you know, viola', the door was opened albeit sans frame! So - to make a long story short the front door frame is splintered, just like in the cop movies, and my husband & I are debating the best way to proceed. The door was no longer plumb nor level as you could see light around the door when it was shut. The townhouse is an eyesore fixerupper we have been puttering around with - what the previous owners did to the door is beyond us (very strange paint job)-> anyway I am thinking that we tear the, now very destroyed, frame out and start over - my husband would rather do a patch job because he does not want to replace the whole door at this time + Any pointers? Can we reframe the door and rehang the really ugly, but sturdy old steel door > and can we do this while bolstering the uneven opening (the post-settling-after-effects!)

We are relatively handy refinish furniture, replace toilet parts, replace/install lighting, fixtures, fans.. though I have never done a door!

Boy, if you have him THAT trained, you'd better be careful what you tell him to do from now on. As long as he didn't warp the door, sure, you can buy all the separate parts you need to re-hang it.

Patio door

How do you remove a sliding glass patio door so we can replace the screen? It's an old aluminum door.

You normally do not remove the door to remove the screen. You normally just lift the screen upward (from the outside) then tilt the bottom toward you and it comes out of the track.

If it does not, look for adjustment screws on the side an the top and bottom which raise and lower the rollers. or look for similar on the inside of the screen. Then repeat the first procedure above.

Interior Doors & Trim

My inside doors & trim are all dark stained. Can I just paint right over or is there something else I need to do 1st?

If they are also coated with polyurethane or other varnish, then first scuff them up with fine sand paper first. But yes, you can paint right over that.

Leaky Doors

I have a problem in my 4 year old house. I have a couple of doors that are leaking. I am really having trouble figuring out exactly where the water is coming from, but it seems to seep in near the bottom of the doors. It may be dripping down the side of the door and down to the foot of the door, but I just can't tell. It started as a minor problem, but in the past 24 hours with over 2 inches in rain, our carpet is now soaked. Any suggestions for things to look for around doors?

You don't say what sort of siding you have.. But I would look around the door on the outside.. check the trim and flashing or J channels or drip edges.. make sure the door is sealed all the way around the jam.

Also.. check above the door. Check around any window above the door.. and farther on up to where the wall and roof meet and even in the attic. Water can be making its way down the inside of the wall and coming out at the door. Also.. how much of a step up is there to the door.. The door isn't level with the landing outside is it?

Squeaky Hinges

Several of the interior doors on our new home squeak . How do I fix them ??

A couple drops of 3 in 1 oil on the hinge will do the trick. Work the door back and forth a few times to get it into all the parts. I have also used silicone spray ...., which works very well, but doesn't last as long as the oil.

Repairing Holes Left by Deadbolts on Interior Doors

We have an older house. Someone put deadbolts on all of the interior bedroom doors. I know, it sounds weird. There were no keys, so I removed the deadbolts. Now I have to repair the holes in the doors, and the cut outs on the wood trim. What is the best way to go about doing this?

You will most likely have to either replace the doors or replace the skins on the doors with new. You can buy thin mahogany sheeting that is the same as hollow core door skins. It sounds like your house was a rooming house with rented rooms.

If you can not use the same holes as where the dead bolts where in then you can really only repair by replacing. The only other method I can think of is some mesh and wood filler but then again that is a LARGE hole. Then you can paint the door to hide the patch as best you can.

Click here for our Wood Movement Article
Click here for our Door Tips Article

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