Monday, January 6, 2014

Arch-top Interior Doors

When the homeowner first started talking about arch-top doors, I thought he meant jambs and all, which takes a lot of extra work, wall repairs and repainting. Thankfully he was only talking about the door panels themselves, and the door remains square-cornered as well as the jamb.

But he didn't want just "any" door. They decided on knotty Alder as the type of wood they wanted, because it has a slightly rustic look that they admired. One look at the hallway below shows the dramatic difference they made. First the "before" look, with the old doors and dark trim...

And then the picture after the new doors and trim were installed...

To make this happen, we first had to locate the doors. I found some through my sources, but the homeowner had been looking, also, and found a supplier not far from where he worked, so he bought the doors and delivered them to the job site. First, they had to be stained, so we set up an assembly line in his garage, where we hand stained all the doors and trim with the owner's custom-mixed stain. As you can see from the pictures, it is sort of a sable, or maybe camel color...much lighter than his old trim, and much better looking with the home.

We also had to arrange finishing the doors. Being near winter time when we started this project, it was becoming too cold outside to do anything, and we decided spraying was the best way to go to get the best possible finish. So we made arrangements with a local painting shop to do the spraying in their heated shop, which meant we had to remove the doors from the jambs, load them into our truck and deliver them to the paint shop. In about a week, we picked them up and installed them back in the jambs.

To bring you up to date with previous work, he already had a new master bathroom built as an extension off the back of the house, and that's where the new trim color and style were first used. What we were doing now only extended that same look into the rest of the house, starting with the master bedroom door to the hallway. Here's the inside...

...and the hallway side... (the picture "pixelated" on each side due to something with the flash, so please ignore that part).

From there, we changed out the hall bath door and trim...

...the linen closet door and casing (seen in the second picture above)...and then the rear (third) bedroom...

...and then the second bedroom. Here you can see the dramatic difference in the looks, next to the old closet doors with dark stain.

The interiors of all these rooms were to be completed at a later date, so the base trim, window and closet door casings, and closet doors remained dark at this time. From here, we moved to the hallway and replaced all the base trim and quarter-round to bring it up to date.

Miter joints of any angle should always be tight and even. For our joints, we use a special measuring tool made for crown molding, which measures angles down to half a degree. Even what looks like a normal 90 degree angle may not always be a perfect 90, and our gauge tells us that. Then it's a simple matter of dividing that angle in two, to get the exact angle for each side of the cut, and then setting that on our power miter saw. The end result is joints that fit perfectly.

Wood joinery isn't rocket science. It's simple mathematics that any good trim person should know. Even supposedly complicated things like crown molding angles are easily made using the proper tools, which includes a printed table of angles. Crown molding has a peculiar angle to it, which is 52 degrees off vertical, and not the 45 degrees that most people think it is. There are special compound angles that must be cut to make corners match up, and all of those can be found on printed tables in books or online. It's just a matter of knowing that, and taking the time to find and use them.

Inside corners can have the same problem. A corner that is 88 degrees is not going to fit well if you miter it for 90 degrees. Quarter round sticking out beyond the door casings also presents a minor problem, and will not look right with square ends. Cutting the ends at an angle starting at the face of the casing is best. If cut at 45 with the cut being behind the casing, it won't look right, either.

Miters should fit properly on ALL angles, no matter what or where. Trim should fit tight to the wall, also, and that means using a stud-finder to locate wall studs so you can nail into them at the top of the trim. The base plate inside the wall is often too low to hit with a nail from the top of the trim, especially if the floor has been raised with multiple layers, or in the case of hardwood flooring, so making sure you hit the studs in the wall is the only way to properly secure the top of base trim.

When the job is done right, you will have a job that both you and the homeowner can be proud of, and one that will add value to the home.

Remember, the worst thing a homeowner can do is "settle" for something, when it should be better than it was done. Sloppy work makes the contractor look bad, the home look bad, and detracts from the value of the home. There are a lot of second rate sloppy contractors and handymen out there, whose only concern is getting the job done and getting their money. Their paperwork is sloppy, their proposals written in such vague terms as to be worthless in a court of law, and many are badly or insufficiently trained in what they are supposed to know. And the sad part is they often don't know how much that they don't know!

Some try to take on all kinds of jobs just to keep work coming in, when many of them are not knowledgeable of that type of job, nor the materials to do it. The best thing a homeowner can do is to stick with contractors or handymen who have a specialty, because that is the work that they do all the time, and they have more experience with it.

But this gets into a subject area that we will discuss in depth later, as it has nothing to do with doors, or any certain project at all. Our main goal right now is to present projects. Later on, we will write articles on work ethics, what to look for in a good contractor and how to find them, the art of job costing to arrive at a fair selling price, and many other things for both the homeowner as well as the contractor.

Until then, check out the other posts on this blog, and maybe you'll get some ideas for your own projects, and maybe even solve a problem you have with your home. Stick around. We have a lot more to come in the next few weeks.

And thanks for following along. If you want to be notified of new posts, get on our email list, or our RSS feed. If you have trouble using any of those, let me know in the comments below, and I'll help you. And if you are on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social media sites, and you would like to share what you see, click on the share buttons on the left side of the page or at the bottom of the posts, and help spread the word. 

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