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Old 04-16-2013, 11:13 PM   #1
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


The front entrance to our rental property needs work. The doors are loose. We were initially told by two contractors that the doors were beyond repair so we assumed replacement was our only option. I contacted a carpenter based on a referral and he actually thinks a restoration is a real option because the doors need some work, but they are "solid" and don't have any rot. Plus, considering that these may be the original white oak doors on a 100 year old building, he thinks it makes more sense to save the doors than to replace them with modern doors because they "don't make them like this anymore."

I'm torn. We've gotten a quote of $1500-2000 for the materials if we're looking to replace. I'm guessing labor will cost another $750. This carpenter wants $2000 to refurbish the current doors to their original quality.

On the one hand, there's something to be said about preserving the look of the doors. On the other hand, it'd be nice to install something new if the price is in the same general ballpark.

This is the front entrance so I really want to make the right decision on this one. I'd appreciate any and all opinions.
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Last edited by Earlybird; 04-16-2013 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:21 AM   #2
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


Buy it outright, install it and be done, on a predictable schedule. Or pull them, leave the opening gaping, truck it off to the 'carpenter', wait for them to get around to fixing it, discover more problems, increase the price and eventually get it reinstalled. If you don't have the time available to leave the doorway opened up while the doors are fixed then you really would be better served replacing them outright.

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Old 04-17-2013, 07:38 AM   #3
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Were I you, I would replace those doors with a set of steel doors with insulated glass that swings out. Doors that swing in are a terrible fire hazard, and I am surprised you can even have them in a rental by code.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


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Were I you, I would replace those doors with a set of steel doors with insulated glass that swings out. Doors that swing in are a terrible fire hazard, and I am surprised you can even have them in a rental by code.

Are you serious????

As to the OP, I would just re do the existing doors. The opening by appearance will require some work to make new doors fit. Just re do them and be done with it.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:15 AM   #5
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


I'd restore them...those doors have served well for the last hundred years and easily could have another hundred in them.

If you're not in love with the white I'd bring them back to stain grade to show off what you really have there.

Beautiful stone work btw.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:53 AM   #6
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Are you serious????

As to the OP, I would just re do the existing doors. The opening by appearance will require some work to make new doors fit. Just re do them and be done with it.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?

The National Fire Protection Association develops its own model code, which is designed to prevent loss of life and property due to fire. Like the IBC and IRC, NFPA code is not law in and of itself but is typically adapted into local ordinances. Exterior doors play an important role in NFPA code because they serve as a means of egress. According to NFPA, all exterior doors must swing out and must be equipped with a panic hardware device, such as a push bar, if occupancy exceeds 50 people. Both residential and commercial exterior doors require single-operation egress, which means that a person should be able to unlock and open the door using only a single action. This code also sets the number and location of exterior doors required based on building design, function and number of occupants.

OK, you probably don't have 50 people. Get called to task as a landlord in a lawsuit wherein there are a few dead people that died on the inside of a building up against a door that would not open in a panic stiuation, and lets see who wins, the grieving family that initiated the lawsuit, or the landlord. There is no question in my mind who would win this one in a jury trial.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:39 AM   #7
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If occupancy exceeds FIFTY people.

Scare tactics don't help, especially when they're ludicrously extreme.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:47 AM   #8
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ARE YOU SERIOUS?

The National Fire Protection Association develops its own model code, which is designed to prevent loss of life and property due to fire. Like the IBC and IRC, NFPA code is not law in and of itself but is typically adapted into local ordinances. Exterior doors play an important role in NFPA code because they serve as a means of egress. According to NFPA, all exterior doors must swing out and must be equipped with a panic hardware device, such as a push bar, if occupancy exceeds 50 people. Both residential and commercial exterior doors require single-operation egress, which means that a person should be able to unlock and open the door using only a single action. This code also sets the number and location of exterior doors required based on building design, function and number of occupants.

OK, you probably don't have 50 people. Get called to task as a landlord in a lawsuit wherein there are a few dead people that died on the inside of a building up against a door that would not open in a panic stiuation, and lets see who wins, the grieving family that initiated the lawsuit, or the landlord. There is no question in my mind who would win this one in a jury trial.
So you have out-swing doors with panic bars on your own residence, or you're just being hypocritical???
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:39 PM   #9
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


Yikes...the previous quote was just an estimate. We got the final quote for new doors and it'll actually cost $3248 for stained materials and about $2000 for painted doors, frames and transom. We never liked the painted doors so we really wanted stained doors. The price difference is really pushing us towards the refurbish option, though I just need to get more comfortable with the idea that the carpenter can do what he claims. He came recommended by a contractor I trust, but the doors appear to be in rough condition and previous people told us they were beyond repair. Thanks for the opinions so far!
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:36 PM   #10
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So you have out-swing doors with panic bars on your own residence, or you're just being hypocritical???
No, my front door swings in on my Ranch House you are right, I'm being too cautious. I guess if you own it, and you burn yourself up, you have no one to blame but yourself. Sorry. I thought it was a rental property.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:05 AM   #11
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


I like the idea of keeping the original doors. My guess is your cost will be a little more than he quoted but probably not by much. Old doors tell a story and if he can get them back to great condition then it adds value to the property.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:27 AM   #12
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No, my front door swings in on my Ranch House you are right, I'm being too cautious. I guess if you own it, and you burn yourself up, you have no one to blame but yourself. Sorry. I thought it was a rental property.
Ingress is just as important as egress in a fire situation. It would be hard to argue that an in-swing door isn't easier and faster for a firefighter to gain access than an out-swing.

I own a 6 unit building. We had a fire there last summer. Guess who opened the door to the unit while the fire was burning? Not the tenant that was passed out in his bedroom, but the local FD........
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Old 04-19-2013, 08:41 AM   #13
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


First-Check with your local (it would be nice to have your location also) as to IF these doors must meet any new codes as to egress, whether they can continue to swing in or must swing out. That in itself will dictate if you can re-furbish these doors or have to replace them. Second- I own/operate a "HandyMan" business and have re-stored doors such as these often. I am one of those older people who had rather re-store them than to replace them depending on their current condition. From the photo these are re-storable to me. The pricing you quoted is unreasonable to me, in this area, also. I would never take these doors off-site, all work would be performed on-site. Depending on whether or not I had to rebuild the framing as to whether the doors would be put back into place each day. IF the doors are to be left off overnight--then an adequate temporary door would be in order. Not to say anyone is mis-leading you on work and pricing but see if you can find a real HandyMan in your area with experience with working on older doors, maybe an old coot such as myself. One other issue--check with your local code officials to see if you may fall into a "Historic" category IF this building/doors are at least one-hundred (100) years old. Around here the local government has Federal monies to give you for re-storing a historic building or parts of it such as entrance doors. I know from experience this is done around here.
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:13 AM   #14
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


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Ingress is just as important as egress in a fire situation. It would be hard to argue that an in-swing door isn't easier and faster for a firefighter to gain access than an out-swing.

I own a 6 unit building. We had a fire there last summer. Guess who opened the door to the unit while the fire was burning? Not the tenant that was passed out in his bedroom, but the local FD........
Firefighters have axes. Doors don't matter, or walls for that matter. I wouldn't make that as the excuse, one way or the other. The next thing you wander into is handicap accessibility as two narrow doors are problematic. Just how far down the rabbit hole do you expect this guy to go?
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:25 AM   #15
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Need advice about front door (replace vs repair)


Personally, I would have the doors repaired. They look great.
Depending on your location, maybe try to have a thermopane glass fit in at the same time.

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