Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

July 28, 2012

Installing the Front Door – Part II

Filed under: Front door — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:29 pm

Hanging this door is not fun or easy – but it is challenging! If I had known the density of white oak, I would have made this door 1-1/2″ thick instead of 1-3/4″. However, given the number of times the door has “gone on” and “come off” Ethan and I have become quite the door-hanging team.

For about the past week, living in our house has been like living in a tent – opening and closing a zipper! Fortunately, the cost of losing cooling is lower than the cost of losing heat.

I wanted to try to hang the door in the workshop, but because the door was so heavy I was afraid that the frame would be distorted and any fitting would be for naught once the frame was installed in the house. So when it actually came time to fit the frame we tried to make sure it was as square and plumb as possible. [Actually not possible when the door is not in the frame].

Next, because the hinges I am using are 120 years old, I had to make some adjustments to the mortises I made for the hinges. Specifically, I had to cut correspondingly deeper insets for each (higher) hinge so the door would hang square. Also, the door frame was made of pine (cut on our property) that is not very dense and to truly seat the screws in the hinges I had to add a hardwood filler. This also significantly strengthened the door frame. You can see both the hinge mortise and filler in this photo.

Once we had the door hung square we found that the door frame was slightly twisted. This was after we had shimmed and screwed the frame to the opening and foamed the gaps for insulation. The door frame was off by about 1/8″ so I remove the screws on one side, cut the bond of the foam, and then hooked up the truck to the door frame with tie-down straps.

Ethan carefully ratcheted the tie-down until the door was plumb to the door frame. Here is the result with the door hung square and plumb.

The next step was to rout the grooves and rabbets for the weatherstripping and to finish the door. This meant (once again) removing it from the frame, taking it out to the shop for a final shaping and sanding, and then moving it back into the house to apply the finish. This took most of the week (you can only finish one side per day, and it took three coats per side.

Once the door was finished (Early American stain with 3 coats of exterior polyurethane) I applied the 17N bronze weatherstripping to the door. The November 1999 issue (No. 126) of Fine Homebuilding has an excellent article on how to install this material.

Here’s a photo of the weatherstripping as it comes near the lockset mortise.

Now I had to (again, with Ethan’s help) hang the door and first install the strike plate.

Once that was installed I installed the interlocking weatherstripping above and below the strikeplate and a piece of spring bronze across the strikeplate. The next step was installing the weatherstripping along the hinge side of the door. This weatherstripping is nailed to the door jamb and as the door is closed it mates with a groove just behind the hinges of the door.

It took me ALL day to fit the door. But now it closes with a solid “thunk” with little effort (but don’t get your finger in the way!). Here’s a photo of the lockset installed in the door.

Next is to complete the trim around the transom and sidelites, installing exterior trim, installing interior trim, and final coats of paint.  That will be Part III.

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