Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Evolution of a Door: The Misadventures of a Would-be DIY'er

Madison Avenue thinks it knows what presents women wish for. They tell us through commercials all the time. What love token should you give a lady? Give her diamonds. Give her shoes. Give her a new car.  Well, Madison Avenue never heard of me.

I wanted a new front door.
Door, the First

In all fairness, I've wanted one for the past 27 years. Our little house came with a rather standard, wooden door; one that let in the weather, but kept out the light. Can't say I liked it much. Matter of fact, I hated the thing. But, with one thing and another, the door never got replaced when we were a double-income family.  Now that we're living on one, what were the chances my front door could change?

You'd be surprised.

Not that it was easy.  First off entry doors aren't cheap, at least entry doors that have lots of glass.  Go ahead, google "3/4 lite entry door". and you'll see what I'm talking about.  I'll wait.

Scary, isn't it?

Well, I started scouring.  Craig's List, LetGo, Facebook selling, you name it.  And I finally found this beauty at a price we could afford.  Only one small issue.  Can you guess what it was?

Yup.  We had to install it ourselves.

Now, you wouldn't call us natural DIY-ers.  Actually, we're probably closer to DDIY-ers (Don't Do It Yourself).  But if I wanted a new door, this was the only option.  So, after Googling, You-Tubeing and streaming all the home improvement video I could find, I figured we were ready.

See what happens when you leave a
wife alone with a hammer?
The first part, (obviously) was removing the old door's trim, molding, and frame, then the door, itself. That's when I discovered my husband's favorite DIY hack.  See, he doesn't like doing this stuff so, whenever we ran into a problem, he went to the store. Always. And while he was gone, I'd get so impatient waiting for him, I work out the solution myself.  By noon, he'd been to the hardware store 3 times, and I had the door out of the frame.

The next part was the doozy because, it turns out, doors are like Goldilocks. For them to open and close in their frames, their plumb, level, and balance must be j-u-u-u-ust right. Close is not good enough, as we learned. We got the framed door into the spot, shoved in skinny wedges of wood called shims to keep it straight, and nailed everything into place. It looked great from the outside, but the damn thing wouldn't open or close without a fight. And, once shut, it wouldn't sit flat in the frame. My sis called about that time, asking how the project was going.  I said, "It's not really functioning as a door right now, but the light is beautiful."  My husband swore and said he had to go back to the store. And I sat down to study the problem. 
Is it the house or 
the door that's tilted?

Turns out that doors function on reverse psychology.  If you need them to come up in the top left corner, you have to adjust the bottom, right part.  And vice versa.  I also learned there are two kinds of skims: some go between the door frame and walls and others go between the hinge and frame.  It's a tricky business.  So, by tightening and nudging, making tiny adjustments, adding and pulling out shims, the door eventually straightened itself into the frame.  Finally, I was ready for hardware, just as my husband pulled back into the driveway.

In order to save money, I planned to remove the old handle and lock and transfer them to the new door, but the hardware had other ideas.  A tiny screw went flying while I unloosened the old handle and I haven't seen it since.  One of those teensy, one-of-a-kind screws, of course.  Now I had to go to the hardware store, to buy a new handle and lock. These cost half as much as the new door but I must admit they look nice.

All told, it took almost a whole week to finish up (and the spray-on foam insulation made a mess) but the new door is magnificent.  It looks like it was made for the house.  And Sis, continuing in her role as Best Sibling Ever sent two flanking planters as an early Christmas gift, either for me or the Door, I'm not really sure which.  The sawdust is cleaned up, our pulled muscles have healed, and almost all the tools are back in place.  And the light shining through is magnificent.

So be careful what you wish for if you want a new door. Diamonds might be an easier, cheaper gift. But, then again, nothing in Zales's catalog has this way of saying, "Welcome Home."