Restoration & Renewal

Home Repair and Remodeling by Dan Rivard

Preparing a Reclaimed Door for an Existing Opening

When remodeling an old house it’s nice to be able to match the approximate style and character in the existing rooms. Finding an old door at an architectural salvage place like Buffalo ReUse or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore could offer the best selection, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Here are some important things to remember:

  • The height and width of the door you’re replacing or finished opening of the new doorway
  • The species of wood or general tone unless it will be painted
  • The number and style of panels

When I remodeled my bathroom I removed a hollow 1960’s door and replaced it with a solid pine door with the same two panel design used elsewhere in the house.

Knowing I was going to paint the door white, I had a much easier time. I just needed the right size and type of door, and any existing defects could be repaired. I filled in the old lockset with a two part filler made by Elmers. I have never seen the exact product again, but it was great for this large area because I was able to fill it all at once, it didn’t shrink, and bonded to the wood perfectly.

I filled the existing hinge plate recesses by gluing strips of wood, called a dutchman, into the recess. When the glue was dry, I sanded it flush. Minor blemishes were filled with wood putty and I finished the door with oil based primer and Benjamin Moore water based topcoat.

I flipped the door around so that what was it’s hinge side is now going to be the handle side. This way all my new hardware will be mounted in previously intact areas of the wood door.

For this project I used the existing door jamb, and its hinges to hang my newly prepped reclaimed door where another hollow core door had been.

I placed the door in the opening tight against the stop trim as it would be when hung, lifted up off the ground on about 3/8 inch shims. I marked the location where the hinges hit the door with a pencil to get the height and placement. With the door back on its side, I removed the hinge pins and the door side of the hinge plates. I traced the exact location of the hinges on the edge of the door, factoring in the correct depth and placement between my markings.

With the help of custom matched trim my reclaimed door makes this updated bathroom, which was added in the 1960’s look like it was always part of the 1920 house.





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