Old Door, New Tricks
Ever had the opportunity to break into your own house? How about with a baseball bat? If not you are missing out on the chance of a lifetime! Long story short, one of the kids locked us out of the house on accident and we had to find a way back in with no keys. After considering our options we decided that the best way would be to break the already cracked front door glass, and what better tool to use than the trusty old Louisville Slugger? After the American pastime action the glass would need to be replaced and “while we were at it” there might as well be some cosmetic improvements too. We are not sure how long this door has been welcoming visitors to the Unconventional Farmhouse all we know is it needed some serious TLC. Loose door handles, sticky locks, and of course the cracked glass where all signs that this entrance had seen better days. There was never a doubt that we would keep the structure itself, with its age and nonconventional size we knew that replacing an exterior door in this house could get pricey, instead we wanted to coax a little more functionality and life out of this solid chunk of history. New glass, fresh paint, and new more modern hardware were all on the list for this old timer.
The great thing about older doors is that they were put together with wood and nails, that’s it that’s the list. This means taking moldings or glass retaining features off can often be accomplished with a hammer and a nail puller or small crow bar. In our case all that needed to be done to replace the glass was to pull out three strips of molding that made up the glass retaining frame.
After removing the pieces needed to replace the glass I moved onto the old hardware. The handles and locks that were on this door were not actually very old, however they were not well installed, and cheaper models, so replacing them would be on the list. removing door hardware is not difficult, it usually involves a few screws and a couple of spins from the electric screw driver, or in my case the manual version.
Once all of the removable parts were…..um…..removed it was time for some elbow grease. I scraped all of the excess paint I could and then went back with sand paper to get as nice of a finish as possible. No secrets here, it’s just hard work.
Once I had the door in the best shape I could it was time to paint.
Before I continue I really need to take the opportunity to stress something that took me a few years to figure out. PRIMER PEOPLE!! Use primer every time!! Primer saves marriages. One coat of primer over paint will cover better than three coats of paint. When you see an add for “one coat paint”, its talking about one coat over primer not over some other random paint. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you are painting over white paint primer makes a huge difference. Paint it designed to be “cleanable”, other stuff it supposed to wipe off, this means other paint as well. Primer is designed to stick to and cover paint and at the same time be painted on.
Once the primer coat was on it was time for paint. Kelli again did her magic and picked a color that was somehow quaint, brave, chic, modern, classic and appealing all at the same time. I love her eye for color and her guts to try anything. She really is good at this stuff. While painting something like a door it is sometimes difficult to keep up with which way the grain of the wood is going. My only answer for this is do the best you can. I had no idea on this door because of the layers and layers of paint over the years.
Two coats did the trick for the door and it was time to move on to the new hardware and reinstall the glass. For the glass I measured the opening and called the local glass cutter. For $25 he cut and delivered the glass the next day. I simply slid it into place and reinstalled the molding to hold the glass.
Hardware was not quite so simple. I actually went through three different sets. The first set of handles and locks were made to fit more modern doors which are much more thick than our decades old model, the second set I picked by myself and it did not meet our designer’s (Kelli’s) criteria, the third set was just right. This was the hardest part of the door refurbish. I have replaced door hardware before but it is always an adventure when trying to retrofit parts to older materials.
Although the door was “done” it was by no means “finished”. It needed a few extra touches to fit in around here. A simple greeting and some texture completed the look.
This was a very rewarding project. I really is fun to come down the stairs in the morning and see that great entryway. Making the effort to completely redo the door also inspired us to put more effort into our front porch area and it has since become our favorite coffee spot in the mornings. All because we got a little frisky with a locked door.