home ownership has a steep learning curve. in this past year i’ve learned many important things, like how to set a mouse trap without losing your fingers, who to call when a colony of bees takes up residence in your front porch (dad), and what toronto hydro’s time-of-use rates are all about. but none of those examples come close to the super important, pass-down-to-your-kids things i’ve learned, such as doors exist in multiple sizes, even within your own house, and that just because you find a door on a neighbour’s lawn does not mean it will fit in one of your doorframes just because “our houses must have been built around the same time.”
you may remember this post, a few months back, where i gleefully recounted finding two doors with the “right” type of hole augured out, to fit my glass and brass, which i long ago polished with brass-o in anticipation of finding my hardware a home. the doors looked exactly like the one remaining original door in my house, so pierre lifted them onto our front porch and there they stayed, awaiting transformation. well, it’s a good thing i thought to measure them before busting out the powersander, because they were not the same size as a single door in our house that needed replacing. in fact, as i found out, not a single door in our house was the same size as any other door in our house either. widths vary from a skinny 24.75 inches (master bedroom, who’s surprised) to a wider 30 inches, and heights are all over the place too, between 76 and 79 inches, even on the same floor.
but all hope was not lost, because pierre spied a few more doors, on another neighbour’s lawn, not too long after i’d come to terms with the fact that “standard door sizes” was clearly a concept that i had just made up.
you’re thinking, “ewwwww…” and you’re right; they’re hideous. but they fit! well, one of them did — we only had one doorframe that was the correct size, so we relieved the rougher-looking one of its hardware and put it out for pick-up, and rescued the slightly less awful door (pictured) from what was clearly an abusive home.
okay, moving on.
we started things off with an hour or so of scraping with a cheap paint scraper i’d bought when i was stripping the sewing table and a more expensive one that pierre bought when i sent him to the store for a second scraper so we could gang up on the door. (something else i’ve learned this year: when your husband really doesn’t want to help you do something “super pointless,” let him buy a fancy tool to do it with and he’ll come around.) after we were good and coated in large flaky pieces of paint, pierre taught me how to use the powersander (purchased for this project, see tip above).
it took about an hour to sand both sides of the door using some 60 grit sandpaper. i used some steel wool on the bevels, but we were pretty successful removing paint with the scrapers from those areas, so i was more doing due diligence than really roughing up the surface.
then, on went the paint. i started with behr paint’s toasted marshmallow, which the previous homeowner (paul) helpfully left behind for us when he moved out. it’s the colour of our kitchen, where this door was going, but after one coat i realized white was not going to do enough to hide this door’s imperfections and pierre suggested we try black. it was a pretty drastic departure from the plan, but the idea of a black door with gold hardware in a white frame appealed to the colonialist in me, so i bought i quart of benjamin moore’s black satin in a pearl finish to do the job.
it took two coats of black satin on top of the toasted marshmallow base to get things just right. but the real tough part was installing the door in our kitchen. even though the door itself fitted the frame, the cutaways for the hinges did not match those on the original door. the new door was also originally a swing-left, and we wanted it to swing right. so pierre and i took turns grating cheese for a lasagna and getting violent with an x-act0 knife for the better part of an hour.
i’m so happy with it. it’s also solid wood (our experience with the x-acto knife can attest to that) so not only is it an aesthetic improvement, but it might even be a functional improvement for once, too. we think it might help reduce the draft that comes into the house through our rear addition, which is an uninsulated box that was built so that one would not have to put their boots on and go outside in order to access the basement steps. It lets all the cold air (and bugs) in, and all our expensive hot air out. (aside: we have to put our shoes on to go downstairs anyways because the floor is made of crumbling concrete slabs, and it’s so cold in there that it’s kind of like going outside anyways. but, you know, it’s good to have for when it’s raining and stuff.)
so that’s one door out of four done, and the oversized ones i picked up on milverton are headed to restore on carlaw, in the hopes they will have 26 x 76.25 inch and 24.75 x 76 inch doors in stock and might be into the idea of a swap.