Author Topic: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?  (Read 6460 times)

puglogic

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Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« on: November 19, 2015, 08:20:10 AM »
We've got several ugly, beat-up, hollow core interior doors that I'd like to replace with nice solid ones.  (I have a Home Depot gift card)

How hard is this, on a scale of 1 to 10?  The puzzle fan in me says, well, if you get a door and cut it to make sure it's the same dimensions, and then measure exactly where the hinges should go relative to the top/bottom of door and to each other, then it'll work out fine! How can it go wrong  :)

Is that wishful thinking?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 08:22:40 AM by puglogic »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 08:44:34 AM »
A 4, I think. It works exactly like you think it would, but because of the long distances involved you have to measure and cut carefully, because a small error in angle has a big result by the time you get to the bottom from the top.

Fishindude

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 08:49:22 AM »
Just an FYI .... hollow core doors are very lightweight and often have only two hinges, where solid core doors generally have three hinges since they are much heavier.   The jambs also need to be shimmed and anchored to studs behind each hinge location.

Pretty basic carpentry.  If painted, it's easy to conceal any "oops", stained and varnished require better fit and finish work.
Buy one and try it.

Spork

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 09:05:59 AM »
I forget the exact number I hung in my house.  I'm too lazy to count, but I think it's about 25.

It gets easier with each one.  I recommend pre-hung doors.  And see if you have a "Door store" of some kind locally.  They're likely to have more choices than Home Depot type stores and are probably cheaper, too.

My method (but there is clearly more than one right way to do this):
* first make sure the prehung frame is going to fit in the rough opening.  The store I bought mine from delivered all of them a little long (with a HUGE gap between the floor and bottom of the door) so that they could be trimmed to fit.  If you need to trim... trim the left/right jamb.
* If the door doesn't come with some sort of bracing to keep it square to the jamb, nail some little bits of wood diagonally across the frame to keep it square.
* Before you hang it, put the trim on one side.  Set the reveal where you want it and get it all on there perfectly.  I usually put some sort of 1/8 inch shim between the door and frame in several spots all the way around and tape it in place with painter's tape to set the reveal.
* tip it up into the opening and get the hinge side shimmed and plumb.
* shim the other side and get a couple of nails in it to hold it steady
* remove your bracing... check everything for square and get things nailed well.  The gap between the door and the jamb should be exactly the same all the way around.  If not, you'll want to tweak it.
* pull one screw from each hinge and replace it with a nice 2-3 inch long screw so that the door hinge is now screwed into the rough opening.
* put the trim on the other side of the door.

It really helps to have a finish nailer.  And it is even better if you have a finish nailer and a little brad gun for the trim.  BUT... I've done the whole thing with hammers, nails and a nail set.  It can be done.

lthenderson

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 09:31:28 AM »
Doing it the way you describe and getting it to look good is much harder plus like a previous poster said, you will be probably adding a hinge and you will be unable to shim the hinge with all the trim on it.

The easier way is to remove the trim on both sides, buy a prehung door, install it and reuse your old trim. Spork had many good steps listed for doing it that way. There are also probably a million youtube videos demonstrating how to replace doors with prehung doors online if you care to check them out.

GuitarStv

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 09:38:29 AM »
I've replaced a door and installed pre-hung doors.  Pre-hung is absolutely the way to go.  It's surprisingly difficult to chisel the exact right amount of wood out of the door and get everything straight and flush.  Solid doors are kind of a PITA for this too as they're more awkward to muscle around into place and hold while screwing them in.

Pre-hung is pretty damned easy in comparison.

Spork

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 09:42:47 AM »
One more thing on Home Depot.  This is anecdotal and I am sure your mileage may vary... but I digress.

We bought one of our 20-something doors from HD.  It was the fanciest of them all.  The rest were hollow core (but nice hollow core and not the one style every house in town has).  I could list the problems with the HD door, but let's cut to the chase and say: It was crap.  Total and utter crap.  This was a fancy-schmancy $700 solid interior door with fancy stained glass.  There wasn't anything about the door that was square and it looked like it was pre-hung by an alcoholic chimpanzee.

Needless to say: when we got it home and unboxed it -- we took it right back and demanded a refund.

index

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 02:20:10 PM »
I've replaced a door and installed pre-hung doors.  Pre-hung is absolutely the way to go.  It's surprisingly difficult to chisel the exact right amount of wood out of the door and get everything straight and flush.  Solid doors are kind of a PITA for this too as they're more awkward to muscle around into place and hold while screwing them in.

Pre-hung is pretty damned easy in comparison.

Buy a palm router and never worry about chiseling doors again. A chisel takes a while to get the hang of it. You will look like a pro with a palm router in 15 minutes!

johnny847

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 02:52:15 PM »
I recommend pre-hung doors.

If my father were here, he'd tell me this is the way to go. Aligning the door can be a PITA.

Rightflyer

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 04:17:37 PM »
+3 (or whatever we're up to now) on the pre-hung.

If you have basic skills it's a 5/10.

paddedhat

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2015, 04:45:19 PM »
A lot of posters missed the fact that your question was replacing doors themselves, not buying prehung units and tearing out and replacing the door, frame, and trim. So, to answer your specific question, yes it's a lot easier than you think.

I used to work in a custom millwork shop, and we would do a metric shit ton of these every year. The customer would drop off their existing doors and we would take a blank  (just like the ones you buy at the big box store) and route the hinges, move the hinges to the new door, drill the face and edge for a new lockset, and modify the door height, if necessary. The customer would then head home with the new doors and pop them in place.

It's easy. Take the old door off, and leave the hinges in place. Measure from the top edge and record the distance from the top of the door to the top of each hinge. Remove the hinges from the old door and trace them on the new. Now you have to decide how high tech. you want to roll. If it's a totally square hinge, you can do it with a chisel and a utility knife. If the hinge has radius corners, I usually use a trim router with the proper radius bit and route the area freehand. You can also buy router guides that temporarily pin in place with two small nails, ad allow a very precise hinge routing job. Next, you bore for the lockset and latch, then cut a recess for the latch plate.
If you measured exactly, the new door will fit the old opening with little effort. However, you typically need to use a hammer and tap the hinge leafs a bit before they will line up and allow you to install the pin. The wild card here is a door from an old saggy house. Old houses can have doors that have been trimmed into parallelogram shapes over the years, as the houses settle. In that case you often have to trace the old door on to then new blank, and cut the top and bottom to match the out of square shape of the existing opening.  All in all, if you have half decent carpentry skills, this is a pretty easy job.

Spork

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2015, 05:29:31 PM »
The parallelogram was part of what I was worried about in my advice (and I really don't have experience with non-prehung doors.)

I was also worried that one 32 inch door might be 1/4 or 1/8 inches off of another even if it was square... and the old door jamb might not be an exact fit.  (Since paddedhat has done it a few hundred times before, he might tell me that worry is BS.  It was just a thought in the back of my mind.)

And, as previously mentioned, I was worried about the quality of a HD door compared to what you'd buy at a millwork shop.  And that is based on (very limited) previous experience.

Papa bear

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2015, 06:25:00 PM »
Pre hung is much much easier.

I replaced all my doors here with slab doors. Went from hollow flat panel to 6 panel doors.  You have to cut the doors to size (every damn one, height and width at least 1/4) route all the hinges (use a jig and router) and then cut out for the door knob / latch (get a jig again). Where the knob lies on the door, does not match the old strike plate.  Now I had to fill all the old jambs in and chisel out for new strike plates. 

Total pain in the ass.  Should have bought pre hung.  But saved a boatload of money.


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Rural

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2015, 06:25:52 PM »
 My husband hung a solid door today, not a prehung, and not a replacement either since the doorway Had never had a frame before. I gather it was a bit of a pain, but he got it done. However, he is planning on buying prehung for the one remaining empty doorway, and he built this house, so  maybe that would give you an indication of the kind a pain in the ass it can be.  Prehung doors are easy.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2015, 08:40:03 PM »
You can also get a plate the shape of a rounded corner hinge to hammer into the side so you have a line to chisel to if you don't otherwise have use for a router.

paddedhat

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2015, 02:51:44 AM »
 I could list the problems with the HD door, but let's cut to the chase and say: It was crap.  Total and utter crap.

I have suffered through this situation also.  For decades now, big millwork shops use machines that nearly automate the process of building a pre-hung door. You load a "leg" of the door jamb, and the door blank in, and the hinges are automatically routed, and installed. Now, if you have a total F-up of a machine operator, or management that couldn't care, You can end up with nearly useless prehung doors. Unfortunately, the problem isn't limited to the big box stores. When I order trim packages for new homes, I specifically instruct my local supplier that they cannot order my doors from one nearby millwork house, since they are clowns that couldn't care what they assemble. When you are only buying one or two at a time, I would take the time to open them up in the store, and see if they are done correctly. Do the hinges fit well? Are the stops installed neatly, is the lockset bore well done, and in the right location?  The one thing I absolutely avoid is door jambs on interior doors that have molded in stops. These are made with the jamb and stop as one piece. The stop cannot be pried loose and readjusted. For older homes with out of square opening, this step can be critical.

The parallelogram was part of what I was worried about in my advice (and I really don't have experience with non-prehung doors.)

It can be an issue, but it's just a matter of using the existing door as a pattern to cut the new one. Lay the old one on top, trace the top and/or bottom edge on the new door and cut.

I was also worried that one 32 inch door might be 1/4 or 1/8 inches off of another even if it was square... and the old door jamb might not be an exact fit. 

This I never encountered. Or to be more specific, it is unlikely that you would have a door at home that is larger that the new blank. Having to plane an edge, or taper an edge to match an existing opening, is however, pretty typical.

I understand why a prehung might be a lot more desirable for many, but it's important to see the whole picture. If you are talking about a 1970s unremarkable tract house, and the jamb, or trim need replacement, a prehung can be the way to go. If you are dealing with a nice 1920s craftsman cottage, a new prehung can be a disaster. Not only would you need to disturb old, and occasionally unreplaceable trim, but there is a good chance that the wall thickness or rough opening could be different from modern standards. When you start having to order custom sizes and wall thicknesses, it can get ugly. When I was in the business, a lot of the doors we did were six panel pine, and were used to upgrade newer homes. Often the house was in good shape, with nice trim and perfectly functional, but ugly Luan or Birch doors. Replacing doors was a fairly easy, and cost effective move. Tearing existing trim and prehungs out would of been expensive, and made little sense.

Seeking the Brass Ring

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2015, 04:26:32 AM »
Anyone tried to re-skin a door?  I've got a bunch of doors in one of my rentals that need help and I'm thinking of trying this.  It may save a lot of time with removing and re-attaching trim that 's been painted 10,000 times.

paddedhat

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Re: Interior Doors - Degree of Difficulty?
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2015, 07:19:57 AM »
Anyone tried to re-skin a door?  I've got a bunch of doors in one of my rentals that need help and I'm thinking of trying this.  It may save a lot of time with removing and re-attaching trim that 's been painted 10,000 times.
Interesting question. Here's what I would do. Find a supplier of a decent grade of 1/8" Luan.  Cut the luan slightly oversized for the door. This stuff if so thin that it can be cut pretty well with a utility knife. Use a 4" foam roller to apply yellow glue to the existing door. Attach new skin to door with an 1/4" crown air stapler using 3/4" staples. Two tricks here. First if you shoot the staples parallel with the grain of the luan, they will nearly disappear. Second, the air pressure has to be just right, too much and the staples will go past the skin, too little and they are a bitch to set. I usually set the hih ones with a small straight blade screwdriver. Once the glue sets, use a laminate trimmer bit in a router to neatly trim the luan to the exact dimensions of the door. The only thing left to do is move the hinges on the frame. Pull the hinges, drive glue soaked slivers of wood into the existing screw holes to fill them. I typically whittle these plugs from a scrap of framing lumber. After they dry, chisel them flush. Now the final step is to use a small scrap of luan as a gauge, and remount the hinge, 1/8" out from it's original location. This is required, since the door is now thicker than original. 

This all seems like a hell of a lot of work, eh? But it you want it done right, that's what is involved. IMHO, it's exponentially easier, faster and cheaper to install a new door in the opening.