Friday, September 25, 2015

Salvaged Front Door Project Part 5 - Installing The New Jamb And Door

The front door project is pretty much wrapped up now, and I just need to post the last few entries about it. I could post everything in one post, but there are nearly 40 photos, so I'm splitting it up in 2 parts (Part 5 and Part 6). Another third entry (Part 7) will show the installation of traditional bronze weatherstripping (only partially completed as of this writing).

As you know, the salvaged antique door has been stripped, repaired, lightly stained, and varnished, and I've built a new jamb for the door. Before installing the door, however, let's take a last look at the door that's been on the house since I bought it back in 2010.

Originally I had thought of keeping the existing (new) door jamb and simply changing the door for an antique one, but in the end, that was a stupid idea. In the meantime, I had trimmed-out the door (several years ago) but I didn't cut and install the top crown since I wasn't sure if this door would stay, and I have very limited supplies of the door crown mouldings. I'm glad I waited.

The interior of the old door is still fairly nice (keeping in mind that I still hate modern steel doors).

View from the living room (green) and from the office (grey).

The exterior of the door, however, has always looked like shit. The mouldings are not properly installed, there's a gap at the top, and I've never liked the look of the ribbed metal threshold.

There are also extra screw holes around the lock area that I never bothered to try and patch.

NOTE: The gap at the top just shows black tar paper, but it's solid wood behind this. There's no "hole" or draftiness from here, it just looks bad.

Demo started with removing all the mouldings. The plinth blocks will be reused, but the vertical boards will be too short now (I can maybe reuse them upstairs on a normal height interior door).

You can see that this newer door was installed against one original side of the door frame, and that the original door had only two 3" hinges.

The door was removed, and the jamb was unscrewed. The jamb slid out of the opening with a bit of persuasion.

You can see that the original height of the door was taller (filled with 2x4 scraps).

All the wood scrap fillers, the remains of the old door jamb, and the spray foam was scraped off. Here you can see the base of the door all cleaned up. You can see the edge of the foundation, a 2x4 bottom stud, and the edges of the barn board (diagonal) subfloor. The grey boards with a bit of a peach edge are part of the porch. And yes I'm still looking forward to getting rid of all that hideous grey tile!

This view is a bit cool to see. This shows the construction of the house. Interior drywall, cardboard/paper, tongue and groove (inside), 2x4 framing, more tongue and groove (outside), black tar paper sheeting, and finally the original cedar wood siding - which isn't visible in this photo but you can see it in the one above (followed by later additions on the rest of the house exterior).

Something that is a bit hard to make out in the other photo is that the bottom 2x4 over the foundation had been hand-cut to form a slope (like a wooden window sill) and I assume that the original door jamb's base had a slope in it. Mine didn't (if I had known I could easily have made it with a slope!) so I had to patch this area to make it square again. I did this with an "L" shaped section of wood in 2 pieces. A 1/2" thick length nailed at the front, then a new board over the whole thing.

I also had a bit too much side-to-side play in the opening, so I filled part of it by nailing some pieces of 1/2" plywood around the opening.

Once the opening was ready, the jamb was installed mainly only on the hinge side. This is important because I had to hang the door FIRST, and then adjust the jamb to clear the door around the 3 other sides. I don't even know if the door is perfectly rectangular, so I couldn't just install everything "level and square" in case it wouldn't work out. It was also much easier to just tweak everything else on the 3 other sides of the door with the door hanging in place.

I found evidence of an old door bell location that is almost at the same place as the new one! The new doorbell will be just about 2" higher than the original was.

Lots of fiddling around had to be done to get the door to sit as nicely as possible. In the end, it's NOT perfect, but it is pretty close, and it looks great, opens and closes properly (OMG! I'm not used to that!) and I'm very happy with it!

What a huge difference already! Next: mouldings!


  1. I'm always so impressed with your craftsmanship. That door is stunning!!!!

  2. Hi JC, Great job!! What did you do for weatherstripping?

  3. Metal and steel doors definitely aren't for everyone, and I replaced mine long ago with something a little more style. You've definitely got a great eye for home improvement and interior design, the new door looks a lot better and is sure to add value to your home. Certainly seems like it was worth the time and effort.