The funny thing about installing baseboards is…
- … it takes a long, long time.
- … it’s not so bad at first, but those “small jobs” escalate. Quickly.
- … you realize that to finish the job fully and completely, you’ll need to trim around every door. And then you realize that you need all new doors. Of course!
So, we found ourselves with a door situation on our hands. There are a lot of doors in this house, but there are five that are open to the two main rooms (upstairs and down) that would need immediate replacement – that is, if we wanted to finish our baseboards job properly (and we do!):
At first, we wanted to replace these doors simply because they were hollow, filthy (even after a scrub down) and just didn’t feel nice (and since we’ve been busting our asses on so many details in this home, what’s five more?). Thinking happy thoughts, we even thought we might be able to salvage a few of them, but after really noodling on that idea for a while, we realized that wasn’t going to happen.
For starters, we’d need a door – period! – for our bedroom. (Remember when it was a kitchen?) The doors on the first floor – which again, are hollow – were trimmed down, leaving the bottoms exposed and warped. At one point, I went to open the second guest room (where I had been storing art supplies before the workroom came to be), and the door fell right off its hinges! The second floor bathroom has an original solid door, but it’s very likely that it’s covered in lead based paint – and to be quite honest, I don’t want to go through that again. (There was a similar door off of the workroom that we took off completely, and both of these doors will be donated.)
Jambs are crumbling, screw holes have been stripped over time, and everything is at least 5 degrees crooked. In some cases, the doors are straight up sideways (I’m exaggerating, but still). Not a single door actually closes properly, and most of them had large gaps at the tops and bottoms.
All this to say, we decided to not just replace the doors, but the jambs as well. We had to; this, of course, brings up the cost of each door, but it would be worth it to have a smooth, functioning swing. After taking our measurements (and learning the intricacies of right-hand vs. left-hand swings), we ordered our five solid core oak doors with an arch detail that’ll mimic the other arches around our home (can you tell we’re arch obsessed?). Our second floor bathroom has a really narrow 26″ wide door, and we opted to order a 28″ wide door – mostly due to cost (since one that’s 26″ wide is considered a special order), but also because we figured we could widen the rough opening. And now, of course, we’re wondering if we made a mistake there. We will see. Side note: Even though the existing door heights varied, we ordered all 80″h doors, knowing we could make our openings taller and/or cut down our solid doors an inch if needed.
We also upgraded to oil rubbed bronze hinges for a little detail that feels a step up from the standard nickel – because if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right! As for the knobs, well, we’re not there – yet.
Once we had all the doors in our home, we started another round of demo – tearing out the existing frames, enlarging the openings that made sense and fighting with crumbling plaster.
And then we realized – oh, boy – after all of our careful measuring, we never considered the depth of the actual jamb. Below on the left, you can see that the depth of our rough door opening is around 6″, whereas the depth of our jamb is just 4 1/2″:
In some cases (especially on the second floor, which seemed to lack updates over the decades), we had a rough opening of 6 1/2″+, due to drywall and lath on both sides of the original 2x4s – which, by the way, are quite literally 2″ by 4″ (as opposed to modern day 2x4s):
Scott’s quick Googling helped to subside our panicked moment after he found a couple of (simple enough) tutorials on extending the jambs; with the help of inexpensive pine, we’d essentially need to trim our openings to make up for the depth of our new door jambs – which we’re sure will be really fun! (Aah! Ha!) We’re trying to keep an upbeat attitude about it all, but the doors have us feeling a little overwhelmed, and our goal of finishing up all the baseboards by the end of May is looking… grim? Yes, definitely grim.
So far, we have installed one door with the help of a friend (thank you, thank you, thank you, Dave!). A small victory!
There’s not one 90 degree angle in this home to make the job easy – not that we were expecting easy, but let’s just say that we were overly optimistic diving in. So! We’re not sure when they’ll all be installed, but now that they’re here, we’ll be installing them one by one. And when we get stressed about the big, bad door mess we have going on (while we’re installing baseboards and wishing we were patio-fixing), we say, it’s just doors! In the end, it’s not so serious.
But let’s just hope that not all of them will be as difficult as the first one. (Knock on wood – fast!)