Sunday, 16 January, 2005

Installing new doors

Ah, the joys of home ownership.  A couple of months ago a small animal apparently got trapped in the garage and scratched the side entry door in an attempt to get out.  We never did determine what kind of animal was in there, but it sure did a number on the door.  In addition to the side entry door, the roll-up door on the back bay had rotted to the point where it was coming apart.  Replacing those two doors was the only required project on my list during my two-plus week vacation.

I've installed exterior doors before.  They're a little more difficult than interior doors, but usually not too much trouble if I take my time and pay attention.  Provided, of course, that the walls are plumb and the rough opening is reasonably square.  I had to install the door twice because I got in a hurry.  I put the thing in, checked that it operated without binding, attached the trim, installed the doorknob, and then noticed that the door wouldn't latch.  I made the mistake of checking that the door frame was level, with the assumption that the slab on which it rests is level.  I know better than that, having installed doors around here before.

I repaired my door installation last Saturday (January 8), although I didn't complete it (see below), and started on the garage door.  I was surprised that I could buy an entire garage door kit, including door, rails, and springs, for under $200 at Lowe's.  Not having ever installed one before, I was concerned that I would need help.  But, being the adventurous type, I opened the package and started reading the instructions.

Installing a garage door isn't really that hard, it just takes a long time.  It took me about an hour to remove the old door, and then about 10 hours total on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to put the door panels together, place them in the opening, attach the rails and springs, and ensure that the door operates smoothly.  One thing that I was very concerned about was working with the springs, as I'd heard that people had been injured or killed working with garage door springs.  As it turns out, there are two types of garage door springs:  a torsion spring and a traditional spring.  The torsion springs are very dangerous, and you should not attempt to install or adjust them yourself.  But the traditional springs are no problem as there is no tension on them while you're installing the door.  As long as you follow the safety procedures in the instructions and install the safety cable, it'd be very difficult to injur yourself with a standard garage door spring.

Installing the standard entry door involved another twist:  the wall was framed such that there was no space for the threshhold.  As a result, it hung over the edge of the slab about three inches.  I had planned to attach some wood to the slab underneath the threshhold to provide support.  I'd seen that done before.  But my concrete contractor neighbor suggested that I pour a small concrete step there.  With his help this afternoon, I built a wood form for the step, drilled some holes in the slab to attach rebar so that the step would be attached to the slab, and mixed two 160-lb bags of concrete for the step.  Given the cold temperatures, I'll probably wait two days before I pull the form off.  After that, I just have to paint the new trim and I'll be done.

The second phase of house remodeling starts next week.  I wonder if this will ever end.