Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How To: Re-hang an Interior Door

Part of the big bathroom remodel involved removing the door (so we could pull up and replace the old tile).  The new tile (and really, the new subfloor) raised the height of the floor, so the door needed to be shortened before it could be put back up.  Here's my take on how we did that (not necessarily to be confused with how to do it the right way...the end result is the same, though!).

First, be sure you like your hinges.  We changed out the metal of our fixtures, towel and shower curtain rods, even our swithplates, so it made sense to swap out the 1970's brass door hinges for satin nickel.  This was a relatively easy swap, though it helps to take an old hinge (or at least a picture of it) with you to the store.  There are several shapes/sizes of interior door hinge to choose from.

Then, measure your door.  I did this by measuring the door frame in two places:  first, the distance from the bottom of the lower hinge to the floor, and second, from the bottom of the door latch hole (totally not the official name...) to the floor.  In theory, when you transfer those measurements to the door, you can draw a straight line across and trim the door at that line for a custom fit.

Third, cut your door.  We actually tried to just sand the door down.  We're working with ancient hollow-core doors and I didn't want to damage the hard wood spacer in the bottom of the door.  This didn't work.  Eventually, the jig saw had to come out.  When you cut a door, particularly this kind, you should definitely tape the door to keep it from splintering.  I did the first few times (see below for details on how many times...), but got lazy (frustrated? impatient?) towards the end and splintering occurred.  Luckily, what I added didn't come close to the splintering already going on with this door (remember, it's old and we've no idea what the PO did to it), and we're planning to eventually replace it anyhow, so I didn't really mind too much.

 Next, hang your door.  I am sure there is a "right" way to do this, but I'm not blogging about the "right" way to do this project--I'm blogging about the way we did it.  It worked for us, so that must count for something.  First, I attached the hinges to the door frame (using the holes from the previous hinges).  Then, I attached the top hinge to the door, again using the previous holes.  Finally, I attempted to attach the bottom hinge to the door.  This is when I discovered that sanding the bottom was not sufficient and would need to bring out the saw.  (Then the door sat un-hinged for a couple months.  When J or I needed to use the room privately, we just lifted into place ourselves.  Workable for us, but not really for our guests...) 

After two more attempts (Attempt One:  Sanding not enough; Attempt Two:  Cutting almost works, but erring on the side of caution not at all necessary; Attempt Three:  Just right), I was ready to screw the lower hinge onto the door.  This is when I discovered that the "pre-drilled" holes in the hollow-core door were no longer usable.  A quick phone call to my mom and I discovered how to fix that--toothpicks!  Just break a couple in half, add a touch of wood glue and hammer them into the hole.  Works like a charm, and the screw gripped well! 

Then I shut the door and realized that of the two seperate sets of "pre-drilled" holes in the door frame, I'd picked the wrong set.  Off came the door again, and I shifted the hinge over to the other set of holes.  I put the door back up and discovered that I'd just changed the angle of the door.  I attempted to sand it down using a piece of sand paper wrapped around a super-thin piece of the door spacer (from a previous cut in Attempt Two).  While this worked a little, it just wasn't enough.  Attempt Four was complete (complete Fail), and the door came down for another small slice off the bottom.  While it was mostly okay, the door caught about 3/4 of the way through it's swing.  This is about the time I realized the floor wasn't level (not our fault, and it explains why the cut on the bottom of the door before I started looked a little funny.  Thank you, again, PO).

Attempt Five:  Since I was able to open the door all the way to the point of sticking (and since I was more than a little irritated that this "quick" job had taken me two hours), I did the best thing I could think to do--I quit worrying about how close the door was to the floor.  I grabbed a magazine (Men's Health, I believe) and used it as a straight edge.  I laid the magazine flat on the floor and drew a line across the door just at the thickness of the magazine.  I pulled the door down one last time, cut the door on the line, and hung it back up.  Is the distance between the door and the floor big?  Yes, on one side of the door, when it is closed, there is a noticable gap.  Does the door swing open and closed without scratching my floor?  Yes.  Is that more important than a part-time gap?  Absolutely!

I'm linking up with Beth's How-To party over at The Stories of A to Z today.  Head over there for some fabulous tutorials!


Becky said...

Wait! Are telling me there is an actual door attached to the actual frame in your upstairs bathroom??????????? Awesome. ;)

JE Melton said...

Haha! I almost texted you to come see it when I got it up last week! :)

Anonymous said...


Never forget the rule of "the learning curve". The first time you do anything takes four times as long as it should. Hanging doors is no different than anything else. Next time, it'll only take three tries. Then 1 or 2. Then, the fourth (interior) door you do, you'll be a "pro". In the meantime, enjoy the process. It's called "learning".


Becky said...

you should have 'cause i don't think i've believe it til i see it!