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Easy Door Upgrade

August 29, 2012

My neighbors wanted to upgrade their door, but didn’t want to spend $1200 (!) on a custom design. They found some prefab moulding frames at the local big box hardware store and bought two of them for only $25 total.  The problem is that the front doors to our apartments are fire-rated metal doors and the instructions called for these things to be nailed to the surface. Obviously they couldn’t do that. They tried some Gorilla glue, but didn’t own any clamps so that didn’t work out very well. Their biggest problem was that they thought they could do it in an hour, and then leave for a vacation, but as you can imagine that didn’t work out well. We’ve all been there, right?

“Ah, this won’t take long…”

I offered to do it for them and asked if I could blog about it as “payment”. They kindly agreed, so here it is.

After some research (read: talked to six or seven Home Depot employees) I decided that a five-minute epoxy would be the best route to ensure that it stayed tight, and that it didn’t wear me out trying to hold it there for hours. Since I was doing it myself, clamping would have been difficult, although I did consider it. I sanded down the door because they had painted latex paint over an oil paint job and it was flaking in parts. Once I cleaned that up I applied the epoxy and held it in place until it set. I love that epoxy and I’ve already fixed a few thing around my house with the leftovers It held like a champ and took only about three minutes to set, once I started pushing. (It takes about two minutes to get it all on the back of the frame, which accounts for the whole five minutes.)

One problem down, a new one to tackle: No matter how hard I pushed, some areas didn’t stay tight to the door. Painters caulk fixed that and it was surprisingly easy to use. Apply a bead and then swipe your finger across the bead and it honestly looks amazing. It was almost impossible to screw up. Believe me – I tried! You can see in the image that I’ve applied and swiped the top of the frame, but not the side. Click to enlarge and you really get a better idea of the difference.

After that dried I applied a primer so that I could use the latex paint that they wanted to use. Two more coats of the latex and we were done.

Voila! A custom looking door at a 98% discount. First impressions matter and I think this is a vast improvement. They’ve decided to add a silver pineapple door knocked which I’m very excited to see later. It’s on order. Here’s the pinnable one, kids:

P.S. A trick I learned from my brother: You can’t  possibly use all that painter’s caulk on one door, but it’s not like it comes with a cap. The easy fix is a nail the same width as the hole inserted into the top. Even if it doesn’t seal it perfectly, when you take the nail out all the dried up stuff comes out with it, and you’re good to go.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2012 1:40 pm

    A nail in the tube of caulk! Duh. Where has this idea been my whole life?

    The door looks fab.

  2. August 29, 2012 3:36 pm

    looks great, wow! What a cheap and easy update!

    • August 29, 2012 4:47 pm

      Thanks. My neighbors are happy and that’s what’s important to me. Fancy doors make good neighbors… wait, that isn’t how the saying goes.

  3. August 29, 2012 8:43 pm

    Wow, very nice good work!

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