Revamping a Salvaged Door

Revamping a Salvaged Door

I went with mostly new stuff on my Lucky Linden build, but I did find an old salvaged door for the main entrance. After you hear how long it took to fix and prep you'll understand why I mostly used new materials. Salvaging is a great way to save money but it will NOT save your time.   


I got the door from an architectural salvage yard in the San Francisco Bay Area. I wanted a particular look, because my design theme for Lucky was bungalow Sears Kit house. I went shopping with my friends Sarah and Joseph from Seeds With Wings tiny house. We started pretty early on the north side of the bay. By 5pm we had hit four architectural salvage yards around the bay and I was striking out. We traveled all the way to the south side of the bay, hitting one last place by the SFO airport. There it was! The perfect door and only an inch too wide. Sarah and Joseph and I were in their little sedan car so there was no way to get it home that night. Since they had also purchased some material from the same place, they were going back the next day in Hoss, their huge orange diesel work truck, and volunteered to get my door as well. 


Already this door has taken two full days of my time, and it isn't even ready to be installed yet. I spent another three days stripping the old paint off it and cutting it down to fit the opening. That was nerve-wracking! But I did ok given all I had to work with was a circular saw. 


Another day I spent building a new frame for the door and cutting the mortise for the hinges. I used these beautiful hinges from a house that was being torn down in Indiana. The owner had given me permission to salvage some stuff out of it and these hinges were too nice to pass up. 


By the time the door actually got hung on the tiny house, I had a full week of work and time invested in it, and it didn't even have a proper doorknob or lock on it yet. I was getting ready to put the house into storage for a while, and I kinda rushed the process of getting the door hung so that the house would be somewhat secure. For almost two years the door just had a basic padlock set, like the kind you might find on a backyard shed. It worked, for the time being. Two years and two states later, the tiny house was nearing completion but I still had work to do on the front door. 


A thing about salvaged and older wooden doors and windows is that they have only single pane glass in them. It's actually a good thing if you are going to revamp it, because the more panes of glass you have the more complicated it gets to Do It Yourself - you'll be more likely to take your door or window to a glass shop to repair if it's multi-pane. One of the panes of glass in my door was cracked. It was just a very slight hairline crack in one corner, but I knew I had to replace that pane of glass before too long. In my rush to get the door installed before putting the tiny house in storage, I had not repaired the glass or even painted it the right color of red. It was supposed to match the windows, but it was a slightly pinker shade of red than the windows and was very noticeable to me. I also needed a decent door knob and hardware on it to replace the padlock set. I took the pins out of the hinges (it's the safest way to remove a door that has already been hung - removing the hinges themselves can lead to the door being reinstalled out of square) and started stripping down the red color. I also removed all the trim holding in the glass. This was a pain because I ended up breaking a couple of the pieces, which I had hoped to save.

I got a new pane of glass for the one that was broken at my local hardware store. All I had to do was take them my glass measurements and they cut me a new pane of glass to fit. I think it cost me about a dollar. Another great thing about old windows and doors: reeeeeally cheap to fix. Because I had broken some of the trim that held in the glass, I had to replace all of the trim. I couldn't find new stuff that would match the old, so I went with thin oak strips called "screen stop" in the trim section of the hardware store. I also got a tube of glazing putty, which you can see in the picture above (it's the white goo in the channels to the left).

Replacing the glass is actually pretty easy. There's a ledge that the glass rests on, and all you do is put a bead of glazing putty in the ledge and smush the glass (gently!) down into it. Then a second bead of putty on top of the glass in the corner, and fit in the trim piece so it also smushes the putty down. You now have a sandwich of glass between wood, with the putty forming a nice (theoretically) air and watertight seal. I say theoretical because sometimes old windows and doors leak air. I think it's part of their charm. The final step is to remove any excess putty that has smushed out from the corner. I used a handy caulking tool I had around, but you could also use a corner of a trowel or a utility knife.

I painted the door the correct red this time by taking a window sash out and having it color matched at the paint store. I was nervous the color matching wouldn't work, but it was smack on. It looks so much better now!

After the painting, I installed the fancy new doorknob and lock that I bought on Amazon. It's a Schlage programmable keyless entry, which I am loving. All I have to do is punch in my code when I walk up to the door; no more keys for me to lose! And it's really easy to add and remove codes. Here she is all finished up:

Why We Went Tiny

Why We Went Tiny

Tiny House Jamboree 2016

Tiny House Jamboree 2016