Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Door Drama: Our Lessons Learned from Hanging Slab Doors


Sometimes the smallest projects can turn into the biggest headaches. I'm starting to think that we jinx ourselves when we say that we can finish a project in an evening. I should just expect that each project will take days of pain and sweat (and sometimes blood and tears).

Earlier this year I had planned on trying a Pinterest trick and updating our doors with some lattice and paint. After looking at the price of supplies and the time it would take to do everything, my husband and I decided it made more sense to order new doors. Lowes was running a special on doors, and we got five new solid core doors for the price of five hollow doors. Score!

Well kinda. That was one win among a bunch of losses. I have five lessons learned from hanging slab doors. The cliff notes version is below...but first is the long winded version of our door drama. 

We got instructions from the store on how to properly measure everything. My husband did the measuring. (I am epically bad at measuring anything. Plan on cutting twice when I'm in charge of measuring) You will need to not only measure the door itself, but you will need to measure the door knob and hinge locations. Once we double checked all our measurements, we were off to the store.
Here's our doors "before." When we first moved in, we added additional trim to the existing trim and painted it white. 

Once we got to the store, the employee helping us was very pleasant but convinced me that we must have measured wrong. Hubby had measured a width of 29 and 3/4, and standard doors are 30. I should have argued with him and stuck with our measurements, but at this point my son was crying, my daughter was screaming and my husband was giving me a look that said "For the love of God lets get the hell out of this store before we get CPS called on us" (I get that look more often than most I fear..especially at Lowes). So, 30 inches wide sounded pretty good at that point.

We waited a few weeks for our new doors to be custom made and after hunting down a truck, finally went to pick the doors up. This is when I should have realized the project wasn't going to go my way. Two of the five doors were damaged from being shipped. The employee helping us couldn't understand why we insisted on re-ordering them. After working with the doors for a week, I can agree that we probably didn't need them shipped back. BECAUSE DOORS NEVER FIT. You can measure that sucker 100 times, and your going to have to make some adjustments. That's the problem with working with a slab door.

So we get our pre primed doors home (sans the damaged ones), and I got to work painting the doors. I have painted a lot of things in my life. Side note, I wonder if I could actually count how many things I have has to be in the hundreds. That includes many different types of doors over the years. However, these doors decided to create some challenges.

When I put the first coat on, I thought I was going to be grey haired with a walker before the paint completely covered the white primer. I followed directions from a blog titled "How to Paint Doors Like a Pro." Maybe their doors were different, but their roller then brush method did not look good. However, by the time I realized every brush stroke was showing, I was pot committed. No way was I going to sand and repaint the doors. So, it's one of those small things that will bother me, but no one else will notice. Thankfully my favorite paint, Olympic One, came through and covered everything in two coats. When we flipped over the door and painted the other side, the saw horse left marks on the door even with fabric to between the door and sawhorse. Not to mention that every time we moved the door, we inevitably nicked the door somewhere. So, don't get to worked up about the paint job because there will be touch ups. Because the doors never fit. :)

Our doors after the first coat.
Our doors after the second coat.

After I finished painting, we went to put the first door on, and realized that the 30 inch wasn't going to work, because our doors are, as we thought, 29 3/4. I read some different things about hitting the jam to try to get some extra space or shaving the jam and door. We thought about it and decided we wanted to do it the "correct" way, and use a table saw to cut off the extra from the hinge side. That meant we would also have to re-route the hinges. But really it was the best way to get everything done and hang correctly. 

While my husband took off with two of the three doors we had painted, I hung the small linen door that was the correct size. However, it can't be that easy. Even the door that was the correct size didn't fit. Do I need to say it again? So, how do you make a door fit? There's a couple of different options. Ideally you want to use a planer to shave off the excess. If you don't have a planer, you can use a heavy duty sandpaper and sander to slowly shave away the excess. 

I could see where the door was rubbing. I used a planer and a sander to smooth everything out.

Another thing to consider, you probably will have to remove some of the length. The height of the flooring makes the length differ. I removed the length on my linen closet door with a circular saw. I had to make sure it was a new blade and I had to take my time cutting the door. I used a strip of masking tape as my guide, which also kept the wood from splitting. 

So while we had to make quite a few adjustments (including even shaving off the doors we cut with the table saw because doors never fit perfectly square), choosing solid core doors ended up being a great thing. Cutting down hollow doors would require much more labor to reattach veiner to the edges that were cut. Having a solid core door make each adjustment a bit more easy. The one down side is solid core doors are much heavier so they can pull on the hinges and require more adjustments as a result. Another thing to consider is the door stop may need to move if the door is deeper than your previous doors. We had to move the stop on two doors. That makes a bit more work since you may need to touch up the paint on the stops/trim since it will flake and crack when you remove the stop. 

The paint cracked where we had to move the door stop forward. Some sanding and new paint cleaned it up.

After all these adjustments and hanging the doors to make sure they hung correctly, I went through and touched up all the paint. I had to repaint the hinge side since it was freshly cut. This was a bit tricky with our white frames. I did accidently touch the trim a few times and had to touch up the trim to get it back to white. 

My doors sanded and cleaned up. Ready for paint.

Our Lessons Learned from Replacing Our Slab Doors

1. Measure carefully and make sure those are the sizes ordered. You may have to advocate for yourself if you have a strange measurement. However, you are ordering custom doors for a reason, and you should make sure they are custom. 

2. Even when you measure correctly, you're going to have to make adjustments if you're house isn't exactly square. Of course, most older homes aren't. 

3. Don't get too worked up about nicks and scrapes as you're installing the door. You can sand out any nicks to the door and you can paint over any scratches. It's going to happen. 

4. You may need to make adjustments not only to the size of the door but also to the hinges, door stop and door knob. 

5. Prepare to take your time to get your door to fit correctly. It's going to be a slow process to get everything to fit carefully.

So, we have three of our interior doors done, and I'm very happy with the way they look. The lesson of door hanging is learned. The process is all about slowly making adjustments and mending any damage you may do along the way. Bring on the other two doors! (and all the basement doors)

My husband installed this door knob. Apparently he wants to lock me in my office to work! 


Sunday, September 27, 2015

DIY Sunday: Tree Stump Side Table

One lovely eye sore in our yard is a big pile of wood that needs to be burned. Since I am on a mission to reuse as much junk in our yard as I can, I took the wood pile as a challenge. I have seen various people on Pinterest use old tree stumps as side tables and decided to give it a go for my front patio.

DIY Tree Stump Side Table


Old Tree Stump (If you don't happen to have a large pile of wood sitting around, this would be a good time to hit Craigslist under the "Free" section)
Chisel and Hammer
Adjustable Furniture Legs
Sponge Brush/Paint Brush
Optional: Chainsaw


1. Remove Bark

Bark is easier to remove when the stump has had time to dry out. If it's a freshly cut stump, you may want to let the stump dry out for a month or so. Using the chisel, remove the bark. If you get to a stubborn section of the bark, use the hammer to get behind the bark. You will want to try to hit the bark from the side rather than straight down. If you strike the chisel from the top straight down, the chisel will scar the trunk. I had a couple of those myself and had to sand those sections over and over again to smooth out. You also need to be careful about using the chisel...don't cut yourself like I did. Yikes! It's sharp!

This is what happens when you go straight from the top. It leaves all sorts of ugly marks.
Go at an angle rather than straight up and down

2. Sand Trunk

Once the bark is removed, you will need to sand the surface of the trunk. This will create quite a bit of saw dust, so make sure you're in a well ventilated area.

3. Optional: Level Out Trunk

You can either level out the trunk before or after you remove the bark. If your trunk is cut very uneven, you may want to take a chainsaw and level out the trunk so it sits more level. I didn't do this with this particular trunk because I was able to level it out with the adjustable furniture legs. We did level out some smaller trunks we used for side tables on the fire pit.

4. Add Legs to the Trunk

Follow the directions on the package. My legs required me to drill a pilot hole and then hammer in the plastic piece to screw the legs in.

5. Polyurethane

Using some polyurethane, coat the trunk liberally. Follow the directions on the can on how to properly coat the trunk. Make sure you do a light sanding between coats, because poly won't stick to a shiny surface. I found this dinted can of poly at my local Lowe's at 80% off retail. It's been quite the steal for various projects. Once the poly dries, you will have quite the show stopper. It's held up great even in the great outdoors.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Dog Friendly Big Summer Blow Out

Whew! It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I went to NYC for work and was "lucky" enough to have strep before I left and a cold after. However, I wasn't sick on my trip so maybe it really was luck. 

I have quite a few projects to share over the next couple of weeks. I'm also finishing up a couple of projects this week. Today I am sharing a really fun party we had for my husband's co-workers a few weeks ago. 

Once we had our yard fenced it and the patio done, my husband wanted to have some people over. He thought that it would be fun to invite his co-workers from the clinic and all their dogs. I thought this idea was both terrifying and great. I could just imagine dog tug-of-war over my new patio cushions. But we are dog people and miss the dog parks in the previous towns we lived in. So, we created our own dog park for the evening.

Surprisingly everything went extremely smooth and guests of both the four and two leg variety seemed to have fun. 

I didn't get too crazy with the DIY projects. I have enough party supplies now that I can go into my stash and find stuff to entertain and decorate. (Which is a nice way of saying I have hoarded too many things)

The first thing I did was whip up some invites. My husband decided it was going to be called the "big summer blow out" based off Frozen. Apparently everyone thinks my husband looks or sounds like the shop owner from Frozen. I did a Google search for coloring pages and used those images for the invite. Then I did some coloring of my own to color each invite in. (I don't have a color printer so this was my solution. And I love to color anyways) 

My go to decoration is a ton of cheap chalkboards. Did you know that the dollar store now has small chalkboards? I added some ribbon to the backs of them so they could hang easily. I have been a fan of chalkboards long before they blew up Pinterest, but they are popular for good reason. You can reuse them and make them unique and fun. I had several "stations" set up through out our yard with different supplies. I also put a sign up in our entry directing people to the restroom, since that has the be the number 1 question guests have in a strange house. 

The first station was necessary on our acreage: bug  spray and sunscreen. 

The second was for the doggie guests. I picked up a bunch of different toys from the dollar section of our local big box store. The investment was totally worth it because we could just keep whatever wasn't used. My dogs were happy for the influx of toys. They are used to hearing "No, that's not a toy!" We also had two large water dishes set out for the dogs.  

The last station was necessity for having so many dogs. I had a time out with kennels and leashes in case any dogs got unruly. We also got waste bags from the dollar store and tied them to each garbage can. 

For entertainment we pulled out the lawn games we haven't had the chance to use in years (plus my new yard Yahtzee game. Click here for the DIY)

My mother in law has this wash basin that I absolutely love for drinks. I keep trying to steal it for my house, but they use it a fair bit as well. Someday I will succeed and it will be mine. ;) 

One final touch that I decided to do at the last minute was take some Christmas lights I had stored in the garage and hang them from a few trees. I loved the way they look and will plan on doing more the next time we have a party (Housewarming in 2016? When the kitchen remodel is finally done?)

It happen to be a bit chilly that evening so I pulled out some spare blankets that morning. We cut some logs up to be side tables around the fire pit. We also had plenty of s'more supplies on hand. My daughter would have never let us have a fire without s'mores. It's inconceivable!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Show & Tell: Yard Yahtzee & Scorecard Clipboards

Good Evening! 

We are in party prep mode here at Ugly House. My husband is hosting a party for work and that, of course, means I am doing all the work. (Okay, to be fair, we all know I don't hate party planning) I have been trying to get a bunch of little projects done before the party. One of the projects I have been wanting to do for a while is a popular Pinterest idea: outdoor Yahtzee. I love board games and the like, so a bigger outdoor version is even more fun in my opinion. Not going to lie though, outdoor over sized Jenga and Connect Four also look like a blast. 

Remember that free scrap wood pile from our fence? There were a couple of 4x4 scraps, so I didn't even have to pay anything for the project. Everything except the scorecard clipboards were already sitting around the house. Yahtzee!

As you can imagine there really isn't much to this project. First, you cut the wood so it's a 4x4 cube.

Can I just take a minute to write a love letter to my miter saw? I had always been afraid of saws. After all, most of us have a shop teacher and/or classmate that lost an appendage from a saw. My tough-as-nails grandfather-in-law had several tips of his fingers missing from his life in construction and carpentry. The one and only time I tried to use a table saw, the wood kicked back and left a bowling ball size bruise on my chest. 

However, almost all the projects I was pinning involved a saw. So, I searched for a solution to my saw fear. My miter saw had allowed me a ton more freedom for projects (no more waiting on the husband to cut something) and even gave me some confidence to use the other saws in our shop. Except the table saw. No thank you. I like my ample chest intact.

Anyways, back to the dice. After cutting them, I sanded them down smooth and rounded the corners. I could have painted the dice and been done, but I decided to wood burn them so they would last longer. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I am happy with the result. 

The final step was to seal everything with some clear spray.  I didn't have to, but I liked the gloss look.

However there isn't just dice to Yahtzee. I needed a "cup" or in this case, a bucket.  I found a left over white one in the back of our shop. A quick coat of Rust-oleum and it was ready to shine. (Side note, when I was last buying spray paint I stopped some newbie painters from buying competitor's paint. I then proceeded to answer painting questions in the aisle for about 20 minutes. I was happy to have stopped them from wasting so much time and money on that "other" spray paint. Can I start getting paid for all this love I'm showing them? ;)

The last step was the scorecards. There was a couple of different options. There are some really fun printable score cards for yard Yahtzee available online. Most people just print them out and laminate them. I already had a bunch of official score cards so I decided to use those but with a fun twist. 

I had this small clipboard from Target, and it's super cute. If I lived within 30 miles of a Target, I would have gone and bought four more.....and a latte, towels, dishes, shirt and a new pair of shoes. But I don't so I had to make due with something else. I found these clipboards for $1.00 locally. I decided to give them a bit of a face lift.

First, I made a template out of card stock. I have found with odd shaped items like this, it's always a good idea to do a rough template before getting the Mod Podge involved. Then I cut scrapbook paper for both the front and back. 

Finally, I used Mod Podge to stick the paper to the clipboard and sealed everything with a clear spray. Always use clear spray on top of the semi dried Mod Podge, especially when its humid. Otherwise the Mod Podge will take three months to dry. Also, when you have a project like this one (paper on both sides), it's handy to have somewhere to hang the clipboards to dry. I made a mini clothesline with twine and used "S" hooks to hang the clipboards. Paperclips would have worked too.  

I used some twine to attach the pens to the clip boards, and they were ready for use!

So, there you have it. Using left over supplies, I made a fun yard game. See, hubby? Keeping all that random junk around was totally worth it.

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