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Old 06-13-2012, 11:56 PM   #1
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Door sill surface leveling


Hi all,

Got a problem I've been trying to wrap my head around for a while now and could really use your suggestion please. We live in an old 120 years old house with an original front door sill still in place. It's worn off somewhat in the middle of the sill from the years of use (pictures attached). There is nothing wrong with the sill basically other than that IMHO.

I'd like to somehow level the top surface of the door sill so that we can get a storm door installed later on and have no gap right below it. It seems like a too small of a job for contractors around here. The best I can get is to have them replace the door sill all together, which I personally rather not do. I'd ideally like to preserve this part of our old house.

So, I was wondering if it's possible to get it leveled, shaved off extra wood on 2 sides perhaps? Any suggestions on tools required and techniques to use? I'd also like to give the shaved off surface a similar look to what's already there, ie add little "veins" here and there. Does that sound like a DIY type of job for a "weekend warrior"?

Any help would be very much appreciated. Thanks so much.
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:26 AM   #2
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Door sill surface leveling


Leave as is.

That is a great character piece and really adds to the look of the home if you ask me.

Personally, I don't even like the idea of putting on a storm door and there are usually a bunch more areas that you can address the efficiency in the home prior to a storm door.

That being said, if you had a storm door, it will be relatively tight at the edges and not so much in the middle. That gap in the middle is not going to dramatically drop the efficiency of the storm door if it is fit pretty tight on the sides and head.

Theoretically, it will not be a well sealed and trapped air space with that gap on the bottom, but if it is tight in the other locations, the air will not circulate that much on the bottom and during the winter months, where you are primarily worried about the storm doors performance, the large column of solar warmed air should still stay in the trapped air space between the door and the storm door.

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Old 06-14-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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Door sill surface leveling


I do agree with "Windows on Wash". You can get a storm door to tight. This is most noted when you release the door to close on it's own. It will close to a certain point then start to close too slow, then it will not latch properly or "snap" into the latched position. Trapped air between the storm door and main door is this problem. Leaving this air gap in the middle would facilitate aeration needed to reduce any mildew problem also.
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
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Door sill surface leveling


The problem with trying to level the sill is the ends. Whatever you do to lower the middle would leave the ends high and then they wouldn't meet the side moldings. The rubber trim at the bottom of a storm door might already be enough to bridge what gap have. Might be worth picking a door weatherstrip to see if it'd work. The kind that's a metal strip with the rubber attached to it, designed to screw onto the face of a wood door. That'd at least let you see what might work.

Otherwise replacing the whole sill is the right solution. You might call it character, but nobody else is ever likely to notice, one way or the other.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:50 PM   #5
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Door sill surface leveling


All are very good comments guys! Some of it had occurred to me as well. I keep bouncing back and force between replace and repair to be honest with you.

About the storm door. House sits on a busy 2 lane street with lots of often idling traffic during the rush hours, not to mention a bus stop a few houses down from us. Considerable noise is my main motivator. I have sound proof storm windows installed on that busy side of the house (made by company called Mon-Ray) and would like to have their storm door installed as well.

FTR, we have an original front door with a mail slot in the middle. I could replace the door and have it adjusted but can't move the mail slot. So, that won't address the main noise problem. So, the storm door seems like the way to go. Installer was concerned that if door sill is not leveled it'd basically negate the soundproofing effort, allowing the sound to "leak" through the gap under the storm door.

And then there is also the trapped hot air between the front door and the storm one. W/o at least some sort of a gap there is nowhere for it to go I take it. I can get it with a coated glass but am not sure it's gonna be enough.

So, that's the scope of my dilemma: how do I soundproof the front door and don't create more problems in the process, preserving historic house as much as possible in the process. Something's gotta give of course, just not sure what exactly.

Please add your comments if you can. Even if you don't see a solution for this dilemma of mine, your comments do help a lot. Thanks all!
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:27 PM   #6
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Door sill surface leveling


TMI I guess. Let me try it the other way... My ultimate goal is sound proofing the front door facing a busy street in an old 120 years old house with an original door and a mail slot in place. Which way would you guys go if that were you:

1. Install a soundproof storm door.
Issues: must level door sill first; concerned about trapping hot air between the doors as it get some son on that side of the house; door opening will get even narrower as it is, which is *really* narrow.
DYI: I was thinking I could try the door sill leveling but am not 100% sure.

2. Install a new front door.
Issues: will have to be a wooden one per local architectural review board rules; will still have the same mail slot for the sound to make its way through.
DYI: none (for me at least).

3. Cosmetic changes: install a better sealed and more soundproof mail slot; replace door threshold; weather strip it good... And hope that makes a difference, which I doubt.
DYI: all of that.

IMHO #1 is the one I was hopping to be my solution.

I'd appreciate any comments on that. Thanks guys.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:44 PM   #7
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Door sill surface leveling


We have a black painted door on the south wall, with a storm door. It can kill a Christmas Wreath in two days with the heat that bakes in there. So we went with a decorative metal one instead. A previous owner closed off the inside of the mail slot, but left the external flap cover. No idea why. We have an outside mailbox instead. One that's easier for the letter carriers to reach, so we don't get any newbies trying to use the closed slot.

I'd say your simplest route would be to replace the sill or attempt to plane or otherwise 'adjust' the level of the current one. Worst case you make a mess of the current one and still have to put in a new one.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:02 AM   #8
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Door sill surface leveling


Get a heavy thickness storm door or one with laminated glass.

I would level the sill slight in those ares where it it most out of square and split the difference between true level and the sill. That should give you enough of a "air tight" closure to mitigate sound issues.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:20 PM   #9
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Door sill surface leveling


Hi wkearney99,

It's facing south too but gets partial sun most of the year blocked by some tall trees. It does get some sun in the afternoon though and more in the winter when leaves are all gone. I recall seeing some bubbling paint there before. So, I was thinking getting some sort of UV coating on the storm door glass when it comes to that.

I toyed with the idea of removing the mail slot too. Decided not to in order to preserve the original look. My guess is that is why your previous house owner had left the cover intact, ie for the looks.

Good point about the "worst case". Any tools you'd recommend for that, other than chisel, especially when getting close to the sides of the sill?

Hi Windows on Wash,

Yeah, laminated glass is what I had in mind as well. That side of the house has storm windows with laminated glass on already. Made a huge difference.

Thanks for all of your replies!
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:22 AM   #10
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Have you spoken to the company that makes/installs these storm doors? This may be a common problem for them in trying to install sound proof storms in out of square openings. It would seem to me like an adjustable sweep or something of that nature would be an easy solution. Creating a sill that is perfectly level will do no good if the rest of the opening is still out-of-whack... Weatherstripping the entry door would still be a good idea as well and will contribute to both sound mitigation as well as energy efficiency.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by HomeSealed View Post
Have you spoken to the company that makes/installs these storm doors? This may be a common problem for them in trying to install sound proof storms in out of square openings. It would seem to me like an adjustable sweep or something of that nature would be an easy solution.
Yeah, I brought it up with them way back while setting up storm window replacement. They were concerned about chemicals used in the 100+ year old door sill and didn't wanna have anything to do with leveling it. I'll follow up to see if an adjustable sweep could be worked in. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Originally Posted by HomeSealed View Post
Creating a sill that is perfectly level will do no good if the rest of the opening is still out-of-whack... Weatherstripping the entry door would still be a good idea as well and will contribute to both sound mitigation as well as energy efficiency.
Aside from the mail slot being there, I'm conflicted about storm door to be honest with you. On one hand for soundproofing one needs to eliminate all air leaks for the storm door to make a difference. On the other hand making it air tight as much as possible would or could introduce hot air pocket problems with that door being on the southern side, in the shade sometimes but still. I'm wondering if leveling it "some" could be a good compromise. Just thinking...

Thanks again.
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:25 AM   #12
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Door sill surface leveling


Use a portable power planer, hand-held. The knives are on a roller underneath. You'd basically be carving flat rectangular channels side-by-side until you have a smooth, level surface across the face. Essentially dropping the whole slope down to the angle of that in the center. Using a sander alone would probably take forever, make a helluva mess and end up being wavy. You'd also use some sharp wood chisels to get close to the sides where the planer won't quite reach.

Worst case is you make a mess of it and have to replace the whole sill. Which isn't a big deal as it's just a wide plank of wood. You'd use an oscillating saw (fein multitool or more recent imitations from dremel and others).

By 'chemicals' I'm guessing the door guys were thinking about lead paint. Some areas have more restrictive policies than others about how lead paint abatement is supposed to happen.

What's the big concern about the warm air pocket?
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:29 PM   #13
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Use a portable power planer, hand-held. The knives are on a roller underneath. You'd basically be carving flat rectangular channels side-by-side until you have a smooth, level surface across the face. Essentially dropping the whole slope down to the angle of that in the center. Using a sander alone would probably take forever, make a helluva mess and end up being wavy. You'd also use some sharp wood chisels to get close to the sides where the planer won't quite reach.
Thanks for the suggestions. I really appreciate it! I'll look into getting a hand held power planer. I'd imagine it's gonna shave it off flat. I was wondering if there is anything I can use/do to blend it in with the rest of the sill and "age" the cut to introduce little grooves like the ones you see there on the picture?

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By 'chemicals' I'm guessing the door guys were thinking about lead paint.
I recall him saying that they were concerned there could be some arsenic used to treat the original sill. So, they just weren't willing to take a risk on that.

Quote:
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What's the big concern about the warm air pocket?
I've repainted the door about a year ago. I just put the new coat over the old one. A few months later I've noticed a few bubbles 2-3" in diameter on the door. I'm guessing it's either always been there, my not stripping the original paint or using the wrong paint had caused that. Thing is, I'm not sure. So, I'm concerned a bit that adding an air tight storm door is gonna trap some hot air there and hence exasperate the problem.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-30-2012, 09:29 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SM05 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. I really appreciate it! I'll look into getting a hand held power planer. I'd imagine it's gonna shave it off flat. I was wondering if there is anything I can use/do to blend it in with the rest of the sill and "age" the cut to introduce little grooves like the ones you see there on the picture?



I recall him saying that they were concerned there could be some arsenic used to treat the original sill. So, they just weren't willing to take a risk on that.



I've repainted the door about a year ago. I just put the new coat over the old one. A few months later I've noticed a few bubbles 2-3" in diameter on the door. I'm guessing it's either always been there, my not stripping the original paint or using the wrong paint had caused that. Thing is, I'm not sure. So, I'm concerned a bit that adding an air tight storm door is gonna trap some hot air there and hence exasperate the problem.

Thanks again.
If you used the wrong paint then you used the wrong paint. That's a separate problem that has to be figured out regardless of the storm door. You're likely going to have to strip the door to get down to a decent surface for repainting. Using your current situation as a factor for/against the storm door seems like a mistake. Fix the paint, then the door. With wood anything's possible, yes you could hack it up to give it some sort of look. But honestly you have to ask just how much obsessing about it is worth the time. My final bit of advice is if you buy a planer (or rent one) that you try out using it on a separate scrap piece of wood. No sense making your first attempt on the actual sill. Bear in mind the planer will only do sections at a time, not the whole thing. So you're going to be making several passes, over and over. And then likely sanding it smooth. Have a long metal rule, level or something similar to use as a straight edge to see that your planing is staying even.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:29 PM   #15
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Door sill surface leveling


I would not put an air tight glass door on a south facing entry with an old wood door. Particularly if it's a dark color.

Have you pulled interior trim off to insure that any voids are properly filled? A thick heavy solid wood door is not going to pass that much sound anyway. But an empty cavity around it will.

Spray foam the voids with a sound controlling foam and weather strip it well, then put a nice storm on that will trap an air space but don't be insane about it.

If you think about it, an expanding bubble of hot air trapped by the storm has to go somewhere and in the summer, if it can't go outside, it's coming inside, increasing your ac load ( a little)

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