We're replacing all the doors in an older home and as in many older
houses the floors (and therefore the doorframes) have settled a bit -
the doorframes are no longer plumb and some of the old doors no longer
close without binding or fall open on their own. We've hired a
carpenter to install the doors and when I asked him how he was going to
do it, he said that he would "trim" the doors to fit the skewed
openings. This dosen't sound right to me. Is there a way to re-plumb
existing frames? What is the correct way of hanging doors in this
situation? Also, the new doors are 1 3/4 MDF and are quite heavy.
What type of hinges do we need? 3 Ball bearing 4" hinges per door???
Any advice is appreiciated.
In many cases you can buy the door and door jam preassembled for a few
dollars more than the door alone. In most instances that expense is offset
by the savings in labor to mount and fit a new door in an odd opening.
I would have the carpenter rehang the jams if possible. What he is
proposing is a crappy way to cover a problem.
I um fixed the door at my dads house. Pulled the trim, cut the nails
between the 2x's and door jam, plumbed everything up and the door open and
closed beautifully. Then I proceeded to air nail the trim back on and
nailed the door in the permanently closed position. Prior to that I had
probably helped install 20+ prehung doors with no problems but because my
father was watching.....
Can be a crappy way to do it, depending how badly the jambs are out of
square- but that's a big maybe. For one thing, it's often possible to
replumb the jambs- just about every door has 1/4-3/4" (depending on
the original installer) of play on the inside under the casing with
shims that were used to install it in the first place. Pull off the
casing, carefully remove the nails, and readjust the shims, and you're
good to go. It's a little work, but it's not disassembling the jambs,
as was suggested by another post.
The other big consideration is that older jambs were made out of wood.
Newer prehungs are made out of particle board. I've got maple jambs
in my house that are well over 60 years old, and they're still going
strong- I can't imagine that a thinly veneered particle board jamb
will be still hanging in your place after that amount of time. They
get a lot of action, being constantly opened and closed, and the old
ones were able to take it. The newer ones are going to wear out- some
quickly, others more slowly, depending on how nice the people in your
home are when they open and close them. Can't even count how many
fairly new pre-hung door jambs I've seen with stripped out or missing
strike plates and chipped edges because of the shoddy materials.
I guess the thing I'm trying to get at here is that your carpenter may
not be trying to stiff you- he might be looking out for you. A lot of
guys take pride in their work, and he may just feel that the old jambs
are worth a heck of a lot more than anything you're going to get
today- and odds are if he's confident with mortising hinges and
trimming the door to fit, that's the case. A hack would tell you that
you *have* to get a prehung door, because that's all they've done
Suppose it depends on the style. I've found that on average a solid
core birch flush door blank is about $50 less than a prehung
prefinished hollowcore one with kind of plastic looking veneer. The
hollowcore blanks are almost $70 less.
Really? As far as I've seen, they're all particle board in my neck of
the woods. The exterior ones do have some wood in them, but even
there, the brick moulding is usually archetectural foam. Might have
something to do with Menard's death grip on the area, but the ones
from UBC don't seem to be much different.
Gotta be geographical ... I buy lots of doors and rarely see anything but
paint grade, finger jointed, wood jambs (mostly white pine and fir, or some
non-descript "white" wood) for the average pre-hung variety.
Here, almost all of the prehungs we get are on some kind of
veneer-over-particle board jamb. We use mostly oak or maple and they
normally get stained.
We can still get solid jambs (some commercial codes require them) but
it's an upcharge.
there is no one right way. as a way to save money or to save historic
trim, refitting the door in the existing hole is appropriate. it isn't
practical to plumb up an existing jamb as you would have to
yes, you can replace the jamb and all. that is certainly done. it
will have to be retrimmed, and unless you spend a lot on doors, the
jambs have sort of a modern look and are usually particleboard. it
will definitely be more expensive.>
My 2 cents (probably not worth much more than that)...
Tell him it's OK as long as he trims no more than 1/4" from square on the
vertical and 1/8" on the horizontal edges.
More than that would be visiblly skewed and should require removing the
existing door frame and re-squaring it.
Assuming that you want to save the existing casings and base and don't
want to re-paint walls around every opening, he may actually be doing
you a favor.
To re-hang a door in an existing (out of square jamb) and mortise and
drill to match is labor intensive and any finish carpenter would much
prefer to hang new doors and new jambs. However in a lot of cases
(including those mentioned above) a homeowner may choose not to use
new jambs and trim. That choice should be yours and costs will be
directly related to that choice.
You can re-hang existing jambs by removing the trim, cutting the jambs
loose and basically starting over with the old jamb and re-installing
the old casings. Again, after re-installing you will have more nail
holes to fill and will probably need to re-paint the walls adjacent to
the re-installed casing because when it is installed square and plumb
paint lines will show. The paint problem will be the same whether
re-installing old jambs and casings or installing all new. The only
way to avoid the paint problem is to leave the casing alone or replace
the old casing with larger new casing to cover the paint lines. This
solution also requires that you cut the base shorter where it will hit
the new ( larger) casing. Also, if while removing old casings what
happens when he breaks a piece? Is the old casing still available?
Are you prepared to re-stain new casing to match assuming it is
Is re-hanging new doors in the old (out of square) openings
the best way? No.
Could it be more cost effective than the alternatives? Yes.
IMO, the best way (again assuming you want to save the old material
and not use new) would be to uninstall the casing and jambs and pull
all the nails to get them ready to be re-installed. Then mortise for
the hinges and bore the doors and re-hang and re-trim them. You could
do the un-install yourself if you wanted to save money and assume the
risk of breakage. There's no reason to pay your carpenter to do
demolition and pull nails. Oh...and don't forget, someone still gets
to paint around every opening.
The "correct way" is how much you want to spend. To replace/re-square old
jambs will likely increase your cost by three or four times, or more by the
time you get finished painting and cleaning up the mess,
There is nothing unusual in what your carpenter is suggesting ... or else
the electric plane would not have been such a big seller around these parts,
what with all these old crawlspace foundations.
I agree with the fellas above saying the correct way is what you can
afford and what look you want.
Last year I replaced several doors (hollow core) in my house with
wooden 5 panel doors that I salvaged from another home destined for
destruction. I had to "modify" them a bit to fit my openings. After a
little judicious application of a hand plane and one or two cuts to get
the length corrected they looked great.
Time is another consideration, if you rip out and redo the frames the
time spent on doing the job, prepping it for paint, then painting could
add up in a hurry for every door.
Just my 2 pennies worth...
Actually, this may be an excellent time to straighten the frame a bit-
screw-jack here and there, gradually, to get things back into proper
relative position. Then some framing to hold it there.
Damn sure better than later, if some old sagging stuff lets go.
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