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 painted...it 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 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!