Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Home Improvement Update - New Door

Over the weekend I replaced the front door of my house. The old one was a disaster since day 1 and half the door frame broke off a couple weeks ago, leaving a 1/2" gap for half of the height of the door on one side. Not good for the gas bill. Replacing a door is a pain in the neck no matter how you slice it. The easiest way is with a pre-hung door. This means you buy the door already in the frame, everything's already put together for you. All you have to do is set it in your old rough opening, shim it, seal it, and presto - new door.

In practice, even putting in a pre-hung door is a fairly substantial hassle. When dealing with old houses - especially when the rough opening for your doorway is made of brick - nothing like this goes well.

I didn't have the luxury of a pre-hung door, because being the crazy presevationist that I am - and also a cheap bastard - I wanted to use a vintage door. A new, pre-hung, custom-ordered exterior door is easily two thousand bucks. And unless you get into crazy handmade stuff that could run in the multiple thousands, it probably won't even be as nice as a typical vintage door.

So I had gotten a door I liked a while ago from The Community Forklift which is very cool, and also has an awesome brass lockset and handle, probably a $300 value! All that was mine for the low, low price of $12.50. (It was half-price door day at the Forklift! Woo hoo!). Now it wasn't perfect- missing a pane of glass. I had to rekey the locks. One of the cylinders didn't work - had to buy a new one. At this point, I've spent $22.50 on a lock cylinder, $25 rekeying two cylinders, $20 on two new panes of glass (I got a spare), $14 on the two pieces of glass I destroyed trying to cut a new pane myself (ha ha), $35 on the wood for the door frame, and $7 on a strike plate for the lock. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

So... door itself - $12.50. Other stuff to make door work - $126.50. Still. Even the crappiest pre-hung door at Home Depot is about $200 and this thing is cool.

Oh, and did I mention about 16 hours of labor taking out the old door, cutting the frame, setting the new frame, trimming the new door to size, sanding for an hour to correct the awful job I did with the circular saw, mortising out the hinges and lock strike... and it's still not done. And it's definitely not perfect, although it's nearly there. At least I can lock it now, unlike the first night when I simply ran out of steam around 9 PM. I set a ladder with a toolbox on it in front of the door as my makeshift alarm that night.

I still need to find something for the transom. The original on my house was a wreck and not worth saving. I think I would like to get something with my house number made from stained glass.

I forgot to take pictures... will post them tomorrow! And my front porch is still a mess so I'd like to clean it up before unveiling to the world.

Note: This is post number 197. Three posts away from the 200...


Titania said...

Wow, I got exhausted just reading this... I have always been impressed of how you can do these things, Jamie.

Jezebel said...

I hate all the doors at Home Depot. Even the expensive ones are so boring. Thank you for the info on Forklift - that place is a goldmine! Glad to hear your door troubles are almost over.

Jamie said...

@Titania: Sometimes I think I am crazy! But hey it's a hobby. The last thing I need is a lot of idle time...

@Jezebel: I know they, are awful. I love most vintage things, doors especially, and despite all the cursing and cuts it's totally worth it to me to go to all this trouble. And it does save a lot of money (to the extent that one does the work themselves!!)

Now I have no qualms about using one of those crappy depot doors in the back. They seal well and work well enough - but no way I'm putting one on the front of my house.