Monday, August 03, 2009

Installing steel doors

One of the first big projects for the workshop is to replace the rear double doors which exit to the back yard.

Currently they are interior grade doors (which are typically hollow and made of thick cardboard) so there is little surprise that they are flimsy and rotting.

For better durability, insulation, and security from zombie invasion, I am installing a pair of steel doors.

I got a prehung set to make life easy. First needed to pop the trim off the old door on the inside. Next I removed the pegboard on the inside and tossed it. This gives me a look at the framing and any adjustments/correction I need to make, mainly to get the rough opening to spec for the new door.

Whoever framed the workshop neglected to use a 1/2 plywood spacer on the header above the door. So I glued/nailed a plywood spacer to the front to bring this up to spec and to give a consistent nail base.

The header is also not perfectly level but not really that big of a deal, the rough opening should allow me to plumb the door.

Now I need to demo the old door and frame. First I detached the hinges and remove both doors.

The frame is nailed into studs so I used my saber saw to cut through the nails.

Then the trim pieces that bridge the gap between the old doorframe and siding are removed.

I left the top at first but later had to remove it too. The frame was broken into chunks and removed as well.

The threshold was unscrewed and removed.

To anchor the threshold the installer had drilled holes in the concrete, tapped in dowels, and used them as anchors. Not exactly a long term solution.

I removed the dowels which were expectantly rotted through a combination of drilling with an old jobber drill and setting a screw and pulling them out with pliers.

I marked anchor holes with a permanent marker on the floor in case I wanted to reuse them later.

Old door totally gone.

I added some strips of plywood/boards to the top of the header and to the side to bring the rough opening to the correct dimension. Got it pretty close.

What I failed to realize was while entire rough opening is racked slightly out of square. The made my first attempt at installing the door fail. The doors would not close properly, and rubbed against each other. We couldn't shim at some spots because there was no room.

So eventually we pulled the door off, and widened the opening horizontally. This fixed all the problems, and only minor shimming was required.

We plumbed the outer door and screwed it into place.

Much nicer door, that is for sure.

My wife re-keyed the knob and deadbolt cylinders to match our house key. She is practically an expert at this now. She also installed the door hardware. I had to mortise the precut spots with my chisel because they were not large enough for our deadbolt.

The next step was hardening the door from physical attack. A door is only as strong as its weakest part. For most doors this is the jamb - you can tell by looking at any door that has ever been kicked in, the jamb usually splinters where the strike plate is.
I accomplished this by purchasing decent door hardware - the strike plate is a two-part unit with large brass screws 3.5" long which go through a hardened steel backer. Then the strike plate attaches to that. Should offer better security than just a simple strike plate.

Another source of weakness is how the door jamb interfaces with the rough frame. When you install a door there is almost always a gap here. Inserting strips of wood to fill this gap (particularly at the hinges), then securing the strips with long deck screws, will strengthen it considerably. Its important to use nails as well, as they offer higher shear strength than screws.

The last thing to do is measure and cut the new trim molding for the outside. The brickmold that came pre-attached to the door wasn't going to work, so I popped it off. I was able to reuse the original left and right trim pieces by ripping them narrower on my tablesaw. I did give them a good coat of paint on the back and bottom edge, which should make them last longer.

The top peice however, needed to be wider. So I went down to lowes and picked up a 1x8 peice of pine and cut it to size. I have this two coats of paint on the front, and one on the back, to seal things up.

All the peices are secured to the jamb with my air brad nailer. I absolutely love this thing, and I will be getting a framing nailer soon to complement it.

Some caulking for the siding/trim interface, a little paint, and its done. Pic coming soon.

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