October 15, 2016 by phicks2012
My original contractor “Shifty Jim” was pretty much only interested in padding the bills, so a lot wasn’t done properly. The church doors I got were painted white — very old, flaking white lead paint — and I had to sand and stain them myself — but the contractor was supposed to have sealed them and the sill and threshold (he didn’t), and the same contractor’s carelessness resulted in half of the door’s decorative ironwork being destroyed.
Time is a destroyer too, but still the doors should have held up better than they did, and not long after they were hung they also stopped closing properly. Weather-stripping failed to address the slight overlap between the doors at the top — though it did handle the minimal gap between the doors lower down where they didn’t quite close tightly — and at the bottoms there was always a gap where the winter winds had to be blocked using bolsters. Still, they were servicable, and unique.
But with time the unsealed finish on the outside of the door began to fade and crack, the paint on the remaining ironwork began to flake away, and the door sill and threshold began to warp and rot — helped along by two housemates who broke the wood moving furniture in and failed to repair it as they promised to do. BIG surprise there!
When this first started getting worse, I looked into having the doors redone by a professional, but OMG!! First of all, when you ask around about “repairing or refinishing” doors, no one understands the concept. They want to sell you new doors, and fail to comprehend that regular doors are just not going to fit. Once they DO get the point, they want to charge you a small fortune to do the work, even though you KNOW that with the proper equipment you could do-it-yourself for next to nothing.
Add up the price of a new sill and threshold, some sandpaper, some epoxy filler, some stainable wood putty, some quality wood stain, some frame paint, and some black gloss Rustoleum spray paint to repaint the ironwork. You wind up with maybe $200 worth of supplies, but you also need a power sander, a wire brush, and a nice tall ladder. It also transpired that we needed mortar mix because the mortar between the granite blocks near the door had apparently been badly mixed and was falling out, but that’s another story, and as far as I know the masons did a good job everywhere else. In any case, add another $200 and you’re still WAY better off at $400 than you are paying someone else around $2K. Do the math.
So, back in August we started the project ourselves, and now it’s finally almost done!! Thank You, Jason!! I bought the materials and and tools, but he did most of the work, and he’s done a great job! The sill and threshold are replaced (and sealed), the frame is repaired and repainted, the doors are sanded (both on the outside and along the top edge where they overlapped), re-stained, and sealed, the ironwork has been cleaned and repainted and remounted (except for the pull-ring/not-a-knocker/knob, and the bottoms of both doors now have door sweeps on the inside to block the previous drafts. The weather-stripping still has to be replaced, and (thanks to my AWESOME friend Mike — who rocks) we’ve got some wonderful black iron keyhole covers and a protective plate to go behind the newly refurbished pull ring to stop people who stubbornly insist upon using the ring as a knocker from doing further damage to the door. We also plan to add a black iron real-knocker and a kick-plate on the outside bottom of both doors, but the crumbling mortar near the door has been replaced, and I also now have shiny (and therefore hopefully noticeable) brass plaque to go behind the new doorbell (engraved with the word “DOORBELL”, and an arrow — for the literate).
The doors already look terrific — better than when the house was new — and they work better too. They’re easier to open and close in general, easier to open from the outside, easier to lock and unlock (with the giant key my locksmith friend James made), and WAY more weather-tight. This winter we won’t have to fret about drafts, and awesome is AWESOME!
Can’t WAIT until it’s done, but in the meanwhile — Sometimes Do-It-Yourself works really well!!!