12.22.2010

Replacing the Basement Entry Door

Before S and I called it quits for a holiday week of no projects we decided tackle one last major project: we replaced our basement entry door.

We ordered the door and replacement basement windows in late November from the Home Depot in anticipation of this winter's basement project. It didn't take us any time to decide on a Jeld-Wen door and windows; we love the windows in our sun room/office and would use Jeld-Wen for any project in a heartbeat. We just wish they loved us as much as we love them; we could certainly use a sponsorship to replace the ailing windows in the rest of the house.

Because the basement entry is a lesser used door in our house, we decided to go for the cost savings of a steel door, rather than a fiberglass door. The con to that decision is that we're told steel doors dent easily. We chose fiberglass for the shed doors for this reason, but decided that we'd be less likely to dent a door we rarely use. We chose to get a door with windows in it since we'd like to eventually make the area by the basement entry into a guest bedroom. I wanted a fully glass door, but it didn't qualify for the 2010 energy tax credit, so we went with windows on the top half.

Apparently custom order doors come in "standard" sizes, which meant that ordering a door 1/4" smaller so it fit into the existing concrete opening with a little play on either side would cost us a few hundred dollars. Our next option was to go a couple inches smaller, which could cause problems when we move and have to move the freezer out of the basement. So we went with the standard size, said a little prayer, and got our a chisel to widen the door open ever so slightly. It worked like a charm and saved us $300. Since we decided to go with an out-swing door to replace the old in-swing, we were able to chisel away concrete on the outside of the 10" deep opening, leaving the old door intact and the cold air out of the basement.

Before we took out the old door we went to the Depot to grab some trim wood. While selecting our wood a stack of two dozen precariously stacked boards from the next shelf over fell from several feet up onto my foot. My foot that was wearing a stupid little ballet flat (I didn't realize I would be picking lumber or I would have worn something more substantial). Big fail for Home Depot, bigger fail when we returned the next day to find the wood re-stacked in a way that it was again leaning forward and to the left, with no guard rails to hold it back.
In the morning while I waited for an x-ray in the radiology department at our local hospital wearing just a sock on my outrageously swollen foot, S took the old door off. By the time I got home from the hospital it was time to fit the new door in place. There's a lack of photos before this point because of said trip to the hospital. Suffice to say, the old door was a disaster with its boarded over window and missing locks (it was secured with several metal bars across the entire door, ghetto style.)

The Jeld-Wen installation instructions told us to use adhesive caulk on the threshold of the door for a concrete application, so we used some variation of liquid nails made specifically for doors and concrete. S oozed on several lines of the goop while I held the door, tilted away from the threshold.
S identified the wires leading out of the old door's header that were actually important (directv, power to the exterior light, etc.) and cut those that were not (old phone wires, cables to nowhere, etc.) It turns out that only three of the dozen or so wires actually went anywhere, which means far less of an eyesore going forward.
We used shims like we had with the sun room/office windows to get the door as level as possible; not an easy task with concrete.
 And then once the door was as level as it was going to get, S used his new hammer drill to drill through the frame under the weatherstripping, and through the concrete. We secured the door with masonry screws and a few masonry nails since we weren't convinced the masonry screws were doing a great job.
As with the windows, we filled in all the gaps around the door with minimal-expanding door and window Great Stuff, which stopped all the airflow coming inside. We started with a door with no threshold and no sweep between it and the concrete floor, so this step made a noticeable difference right away.
S installed the door knob and deadbolt, making sure the latter locked directly into a hole drilled into the concrete for extra security.
We re-secured our door alarm and called the project done for now. We'll have to wait until it's warm again to paint the ready-primed door. Project one of our basement overhaul is complete, now to move on to replacing windows, and hopefully the big project of the winter: a new bathroom.

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