Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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Home Page. Finish Carpentry 101 DoorsI want to cover this category in depth, because many homeowners are wary of installing doors simply because they are not familiar with the process. Installing doors is easy, as is a lot of the stuff I cover on this site after you learn the basic steps. The problem with doors is that they have to be functional or they will drive you nuts, whereas a piece of crown can go up with a tube of caulk stuffed in it and no ones the wiser. Doors must be installed properly to function without sticking, creaking, moving around, etc.

I've put in a ton of doors in my career and over the years I've learned ways to do it fast and functional. A partner of mine and I once installed 150 doors in an apartment complex in just over a day and a half. They were done correctly as well. That's a lot of doors in a day and a half. The point here is that when you learn the the correct steps to installing doors they can be done fast and functional and are really easy to do. On the other hand nothing in carpentry work drives me more nuts than a door that is put in wrong. Trust me I've seen countless doors installed wrong by jacklegs that claimed to be good carpenters either through laziness or just not really know how to do it even though they said they did. It drives me nuts. I've run a lot of trim crews, and I was constantly having to manage the installation of the doors because as soon as I turned around, they would be slapped in wrong and the builder would chew me out because they were installed wrong. It's one of the most basic finish carpentry jobs that must be done when trimming out a house. When a builder walks on his job and inspects the trim crews work, one of the first things he checks is whether the doors are done properly, because he knows that if they aren't that a few weeks down the road they will be sticking or will be out of level so bad that they make the walls look terrible, etc. They simply must be done correctly. Once you learn how, it is like riding a bicycle; you will always remember it

Let's start with the basic anatomy of a door. Simply put, a door is a box or frame that a slab (actual door) is hinged upon and swings right or left. The swing of a door is critical when installing it. I'll expand on that later in this chapter. The box in which the slab swings is called the door jambs, so you will have two side jambs and a top section of jamb.

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There are two main types of residential doors the homeowner needs to be familiar with: a sold jamb door and a split jamb door. A split jamb door is probably what most DIY'ers will end up with, because they are what Home Depot and Lowes carry for the most part. They are cheaper in price and quality, but they do have some advantages for the novice installer. They are called split jambs because the jamb is actually in two pieces. You install one side which typically already has your casing or trim already nailed on. Then you shim it between jamb and framing, and simply plug the other side of jamb on, which obviously is the other side of the two rooms. It will have the casing on it as well and then you nail it all off and you are done. Keep in mind this is just an overview of the door types themselves. I will go over the details of installation below.

Prehung doors come in a variety of sizes. This seems like a simple statement but when you want to buy them and they ask you what size you want, things go fuzzy quick. Most homes have a few basic sizes of doors, and they are labeled in size in a confusing way. For example, if you go to buy a door, most likely you will by buying what is called a 2-0 door, a 2-4 door, a 2-6 door, a 2-8 door or a 3-0 door, etc. I'm getting' a headache describing this. These terms simply mean that a 2-0 door is a 24-inch door, a 2-4 door would be 24 inches plus 4 inches. I know, I know, why not call it a 28-inch door? Maddening, isn't it? Along this line of logic, a 2-6 door would be 30 inches. Uhh, you get the idea. I don't know why this is, but I wasn't invited to the meeting where these things were hammered out. Most framers will frame a door opening 2 to 2.5 inches bigger than the door being installed, so, for example, if your door hole (pardon my French) is 32 inches wide you would need a 2-6 door or you can just pay somebody to go get it and have a martini.

This extra room the framers give you is so you can level the door and shim it. There are not many things more infuriating that trying to put a door in a hole that is framed too tight. If the hole is too tight, don't try to just cram the door in the hole with no room. It might work for a while, but it will not stand the test of time. If your house settles at all, and they all do, the door will stick eventually. It's better to have an opening that is too big than too small. That reminds me of a joke... uh, never mind. The height of the door will be listed as a 6-8 door or an 8-foot door. 6-8 meaning 6 feet, 8 inches high. I know, it's brilliant, isn't it? So if you have a 32-inch opening and went to Home Depot, you would simply tell them you need a 2-6/6-8 prehung split-jamb door. Then watch the guy from the plumbing section get on the radio and call for help. Eventually after two exhilarating hours, you will be the proud owner of a shiny new 30-inch by 80-inch door. Let the fun begin!

More to come...
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