Replace narrow side door

During kitchen remodel decades ago, due to space requirements, I had to have a narrow (24") exterior door installed. Now I have to replace it (bottom is rotted; inside yecchy stuff exposed). $$ is very tight.
Narrowest available at HD is 32".
1. Should I buy solid core and have it cut to size? If so, should I have the 8" cut from the hinge side or the knob side, or does it make any difference?
2. Or is there a way to buy a "blank" and have it cut to size? Do "blanks" exist?
3. "Masonite" is priced higher than other solid core doors. Why? Is it worth the extra cost?
4. Is pre-bored (for locks and knobs) worth the extra cost vs. having handyman do it?
5. Ditto for window and cat door.
Grateful for any input and referral to sources!
Hypatia
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Artful Dodger wrote:

I $$ are indeed very tight, I'd suggest first going to local salvage freight or similar places and scrounge through their supply of used/overstock/seconds/etc. instead. Quite likely to find just what you need for $10 or so.
If you do go have to start w/ a wider door for some reason you want to trim evenly from both sides rather than all from one.
The last questions are pretty much self-evident -- if have to trim and place in existing opening, it's unlikely the prebored holes will be in the right place. Certainly if have to trim to narrower unless it's 2" or less you definitely won't want to take all from one side so the lockset holes will be at the wrong setback from the edge.
Cost questions all depend on what a handyman charges vis a vis the store premium is and can't tell that from here... :)
Another cheep-but-cheery solution w/ the handyman depending on just what type of damage you have could be to simply cut off the bad section and replace it w/ a solid, new piece. A little filler, sanding, a coat of paint and nobody but you and the (reasonably competent) handyman will ever notice...
--
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I think it would be alot cheaper and easier to repair it
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Artful Dodger wrote:

have been to usually have a decent selection of ripout doors at very cheap prices- cheap enough that if your handyman screws up cutting one down (if they don't have a narrow one), no big loss. Or like the other guy said, a door and window surplus outlet can be found in most medium to large cities. Big box stores like HD only carry the middle part of the bell curve, the sizes that most people want. If you want something weird, they will special order, but it will cost you.
-- aem sends...
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Could you post a photo? To minimize $'s spent, I'd vote with the others who suggested repair rather than replace. Is DIY an option?
cheers Bob
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Yes, I will post a photo. Am not used to doing this, so can you recommend a Web site for posting the photo.
I am also rethinking the necessity of replacing the whole door.
Would avoid dealing with door closing/locking hardware openings.
I agree that cutting off and replacing the bottom portion is an option.
As you will see when I post the photo, another possibility might be filling the deteriorated section -- only a few inches in height - with some kind of caulk or (other?) filler, then screwing on a wide brass kick plate. I don't know if/where these are available, but I think such a plate would help protect against rain, etc.
Only downside is that a new cat door would have to be cut.
Somebody asked about DIY . It is an option for cutting down the door and gluing on a new section. Also an option for the brass kick plate.
Not sure about the cat door DIY; may need a helper.
Very appreciative about all the creative & helpful replies so far.
Reminder: Where do I post the photo?
Tx
Hypatia

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steel doors can be made to order in any width check home depot.
They arent expensive I looked at this for our side door its like 28 inches but we opted to replace the front door instead
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I use http://imageshack.us/ It is free and easy to use. -- I don't understand why they make gourmet cat foods. I have known many cats in my life and none of them were gourmets. They were all gourmands!
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Daniel, will you marry me! You and I must be the only two language freaks left who know the difference. Plus ca change...
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OK, I finally took 2 pix of the full door and damaged portion. Posted at:
http://i684.photobucket.com/albums/vv209/FragileOne/sidedoor2jpg.jpg and
http://i684.photobucket.com/albums/vv209/FragileOne/sidedoorjpg.jpg
I'm leaning more to filling in the damaged part with (what???) and covering the site with a metal kickplate. Have seen them advertised as low as $28.00. This method would save taking out and replacing cat door.
You kind experts have b een holding my hand so far; much thanks. After viewing the photos, what do you think?
Hypatia

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This damage is consistent with water dripping from the roof during storms or water sprinklers hitting the door. The bottom of the door is the last to dry out, so it rots first. It looks like the bottom of the jambs may have been repaired in the past, too.
You can order doors in any size you want, usually in increments of two inches. A 24" door is unusual, but not unavailable.
The name for a blank door is "slab". You might have better luck searching with that term.
You'll need an exterior grade door. Exterior doors are solid-core, as opposed to "hollow-core" interior doors. The outer skin can be wood, metal, or fiberglass. Wood doors can be cut to any size on site. Metal and fiberglass doors have to be made the final size at the factory.
Any handyman can cut down a slab door _a little_ to fit the opening, then install the window and cat door. If I were doing it, it would take an hour or two to install and paint, so my bill would be around $75. I don't know what handymen earn in your area, so that price may be totally off for you.
Solid-core doors have solid wood around the edges, and softer particle board in the middle. You can trim the edge by an inch or so, but no more.
You could repair the existing door and cover the damage, but that will only delay a total replacement.
The smallest kickplate I've seen is 6" tall. You'll have to have one notched to go around the cat door.
Recommendations: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. Install a rain gutter or a diverter strip above the door, or adjust the sprinkler heads.
2. A metal or fiberglass door will last longer in this location if you can't fix the water problem, but cost more initially.
3. You'll have to special-order a replacement door no matter what. No one will stock such an unusual size.
4. If I were to patch the damage, I would: * Cut out all the damaged wood. * Fill the holes with Bondo. * Sand everything smooth, then sand the rest of the door. * Put a coat of oil-based primer over the whole door. * Put another coat of primer over the repaired area. Bondo absorbs water, so you want it well sealed. * Sand everything smooth again. * Caulk all the joints. * Put on two coats of a good exterior paint. * Cover the bottom with a kickplate, caulking the edges and screw holes. * Put the cat door back in and caulk it. * Remember to put up that gutter or diverter strip.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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"SteveBell" wrote

I'll add some ideas now that I have seen the pics, based on this.

Yes, that and possibly pet damage if there is a dog involved (scratching just enough to damage the water proof coating and then the water had a path to enter). She mentions a cat (less likely to decide to use an exterior door as a scratching post) but I added dog notes in my reply.

I think it's Lowes where I saw them last. They may be more commonly needed where I am so stocked. I had no trouble finding a 24 inch exterior screen door.

If she goes for replacement, and can find one with a pet door of suitable size, I think a metal one would be worth the cost. Reason being water is hitting 'somehow' and replacing with another wood one won't fix that, just go like the other in time. Google wasnt helpful though to find one. It may well be out of her ability to afford.

If I think of cheapest possible patch job for now I come up with a few other ideas as well.
1) There's bound to be some place local that can 'cut to fit' either a metal piece or a plexiglass piece. Plexiglass is NOT optimal as it's common to have seal failures so the wood rots behind it, but you see it here all the time when folks have large dogs that damage doors at the entry of the pet door. It scratches but is cheap to replace. HD will cut to measure (including pet door). She'd have to cosmetically fix the door up with your suggested methods or it's gonna look real ugly if she just puts the plate up and caulks around well. - Steel, brass or cut tin works too. Same issues as the plexiglass when it comes to the seal, but she can do a more minimal repair job since you can't see through it. Some of the tin types are so thin, you can cut them yourself with heavy gauge scissors. Here, there is a craft store that sells such. That thinner tin will prevent water but a good sized dog would shred it in fairly short order. (It's not paper-thin stuff but I don't know enough to decribe it better other than some folks use this here and have fancy patterns dimpled into it). -An auto-body-repair place can probably provide a cut steel piece to measure and even powder coat it to look 'pretty'. Weight and strength of hinges come into play with that solution as well as the seal.
2) Super cheap solution. It's a hack yes, but it will work. Treated plywood, 1/2 or more thick. Cut hole for pet door out. Do preservation work on existing door then nail it on and run some exterior trim above it and caulk well. Her exterior door does not appear to be a true solid core so this thicker addition may solve some issues for a good bit of time. - For looks, since it will NOT match, I would make it a contrast 'feature'. It will still look like a hack but will look like less of one if she repaints paints the top part the 'red' she seems to have now, then paints the plywood and the stair rails in some contrasting color that matches up. Maybe the what seems to be cement stairs too should be painted that lower color (my choice would be a dark red-brown oil base that she can also use on the steps). - This *will* hold up to a large dog's pawing with the understanding that they will damage the paint so it will have to be resealed and painted. -One local fellow used this solution and has a large dog who created a door issue much like her's looks like (yes, she mentions cats but you never know who's reading!). In his case, he was pawing a cheaper door apart because there was an inner screen door (wierd but true) so that let the owner know he wanted back in. He decided this was a good time to add another thing to help him out. He got some sort of sandpaper like stuff (dunno what it's backed with other than it can handle getting wet) and put that up where the dog paws. Say's he almost never needs to trim his dog's nails now (grin, no they don't get too short from it, just helps a bit apparently).
PS: Yes, the local fellow with the inner screen door is illogical. He wants the pet door so he doesnt lose as much heat in winter to open the door, but loses far more over the year due to the pet door. He wants the screen door to prevent bugs in summer. Sweet fellow but not the sharpest stick in the pile truth be told.
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