Odd size door replacement


Hi, my 1923 house has a 31" X 6' door that accesses the stairway to the basement. It has a large window and is only 1 3/8" thick. I want to put in a good, solid wood door, but I have a French Cottage style house, and a plain door would not look good. (btw, the current door is hollow plastic). I don't want a six panel door because the wood is so thin on the panels. So I have 2 alternatives: Get a solid door and try to make it decorative somehow...OR Build my own door. Any ideas? Thanks, Chas
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Not sure why you feel the wood is so thin on the panels. They float within a 1 3/8" frame and there's quite a bit enough wood mass there for the panels to be substantial. Have you actually looked at 6 panel doors and decided that you don't like what you see? If so, then you're likely facing one of the two alternative you list below... neither of which is a bad alternative.

I'm all for building your own if you can't find something ready made that satisfies you. It's much more rewarding than decorating a solid door. Assuming of course, that you have the tools. Ahhhhh! "Look Hun! I can build the door we need, once I get this new..."
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-Mike-
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You might be able to find an architectural salvage yard with something appropriate in style and close in size. I've acquired many well made components with very nice wood in good shape at very low cost. With a small investment in trimming out and refinishing, you could wind up with something very nice.
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Chas wrote:
<<So I have 2 alternatives: Get a solid door and try to make it decorative somehow...OR Build my own door. Any ideas?>>
Building your own door isn't that hard. The challenge for you if you don't do this kind of work will be trying to fit the finished product into the old frame. You will build your door square (all right angles) and then have to trim it to a frame that is no doubt out of square and out of plumb. Probably out of level, too.
If you build your door, I would strongly suggest that you take the time to find some honest to Pete kiln dried wood. Buy the lumber yard crap that looks good will give you green wood that is sawn in such a way (mostly flat) that will guarantee twisting and warping.
I think Martin is on to something with the salvage yard if you can find something nice at a reasonable cost. However, the salvage yard by me gets more for a door than I think I should pay since every one he has needs scraping, sanding, painting, and has already been trimmed, planed, etc.
Good luck!
Robert
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Thanks Gang, I was an Industrial Arts Teacher and my Dad was a cabinetmaker/carpenter, so making a door, tho' an adventure, is within my ability. Trouble is finding decent dry, straight wood, thick enough for the job. I will definitely check the salvage yards! Chas

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I had to buy a 31" (non-standard door) half a dozen years ago. I looked for a solid pine door at 32" to cut down on one or both sides to 31". Especially 6-panel. Th only one I could find was a 6-panel solid pine - but it had Glass panels, not wood. I ended up custom ordering a birch hollow core door for more. Instead of $35 for a 30" or 32" birch it was $110. I can't remember if I knew to check HD then. I now wish I had made more of an effort because in the last month I've seen a 6-panel solid pine with solid wood panels at HD. I didn't look, but I'm sure they had 32". It is ~$100 CDN. There are other big chain stores here, and some just large stores. I will be buying more doors from HD soon. I haven't asked which are custom orderable. I just bought a custom order size 3-pane sliding glass door from HD. Some stores will have Birch, Mahonany, some stores will be able to custom order sizes. Check it all.
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And remember when trimming to take half off one side and half off the other, or the door is going to look really odd.
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Trouble is I need about 70". Will that leave enough of the door for strength? Chas

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You're asking about height, I presume. No way to tell without seeing the door, but you're getting into an iffy area when you remove 10" total from the top and bottom. I think if I cut that much off the height, I'd find some way to install angle iron top and bottom, preferably in a manner that made it decorative as well as strong.
Most I've ever sliced off in height is about 5", and that made me nervous (in six panel oak doors, where the replacement cost would have REALLY made me whimper).
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I agree. What prompted the idea was that I measured my front entry door, a 4 panel, 4 light solid raised panel door. From the floor to the base of the windows was about 70" high. Maybe I can locate a raised panel door that has a similar layout, and just cut the whole top off, leaving a symetrical, smaller door? Chas
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You are probably going to have to buy one custom made or make your own. Doors are designed as coherent units. If you take away the top of a door, you take away one set of mortise and tenon joints (in good quality doors) that provide the strength for that upper panel, and, by extension, on down the door. The more you remove, the weaker the door.
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That makes sense. I could always add a 1/2 plywood panel to the inside.
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