Updating that 1970’s door

As we look forward to four months of cold weather, short days, and general dreariness, this might be a good time to pour yourself another spiked eggnog, grab a spot on the sofa, and evaluate your home’s décor.

Where to start will always be a challenge, so let’s begin with the interior doors, a home component that usually gets done once, then forgotten. Interior doors are also fixtures that were often done relatively cheaply, and even more so if your home was one of a series of cookie cutter-styled units built back in the big housing development years of the 1970s.

So, with your feet up, and already half in the bag by 11 a.m. during this blissful holiday week, what are we looking at?

Are the doors essentially plain mahogany slabs, either clear-coated, stained, or perhaps over time have been painted white, with that slight hint of woodgrain peering through?

Or, are they of the six-panel, white, woodgrain variety— a pattern that has been serving homebuilders for years, and a style I remember fondly from my years in the building supply business as a summer student (in other words, it’s been a while).

As you continue to scan the room, is the style and colour scheme of your living room somewhat reminiscent of the Brady Bunch TV series? Is there a bright orange beanbag chair in the corner? When you tumble out of the sofa, is your fall broken by shag carpeting? And, are you still kicking yourself for having lost money by having invested in sea monkeys? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then it’s time to have Scotty beam you out of the 70s.

Again, starting with the interior doors, you’ll essentially have two options. One, you can replace the door slabs only, or two, new slabs can be ordered pre-hung in their own frames. Only replacing the slab may seem like the simplest solution, and it might be, with this strategy causing less collateral damage, due to the wall, existing jamb, and casing, remaining basically untouched.

However, ‘door only’ replacement will in fact require a more heightened skillset. Fitting a perfectly new, rectangular door in a space that’s 50 years old, and probably not so square, will be a frustrating task, most likely requiring the use of an electric planer and belt-sander in order to form this door into the desired shape.

Plus, if it’s your goal to save the existing hinges, the task of having to mortise the hinge placement on your new slab is never an easy cut. Then there’s the job of having to cut the hole for the door knob, a relatively easy procedure, unless you screw it up of course, leaving you with another item to toss in next spring’s lawn sale.

Regarding the hinge placement on a new slab door, do-it-yourselfers will be pleased to know there now exists a no-mortise hinge, or no-space hinge, which saves the installer having to painstakingly cut out the required hinge depth on a new jamb. Instead, the no-mortise hinge allows the installer to simply flush-mount the hinge on both the door and the jamb, saving a lot of time and headache.

Pre-hung doors require four basic tools, them being a cordless drill, a chop saw (to miter the casings), a pneumatic nail gun (or simply a hammer), a level, and one pre-hung door installation hardware kit per unit.

With the old frame removed, the levelling of your pre-hung unit will be extremely straightforward, requiring the installer to simply confirm things are level before screwing the jamb in position.

What style of door should homeowners be considering?

Look to choose a door with a smooth finish, having two-to-five raised panels, with simple bevelling.

What else?

Be sure to measure the width, height, and door thickness, of your existing slab before ordering. Back in the day, 78-inch doors, as opposed to today’s 80-inch high slabs, were quite common.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

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