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NNJGUY 08-04-2008 11:25 PM

Replace door sill = Need new door?
Hi folks! Here's the situation and I would love some feedback.

On my front door, the sill, which I believe is oak and about 50 years old has stared to rot and decay. I'm handy, but I think this might be a little over my head so I call a contractor.

Contractor says that the sill can be replaced, but the jams are attached to the sides of the door sill and not attached on top of them for some reason. (I can't tell by looking if this is true)

So, to replace the sill, he has to remove the storm door, remove all the trim and the all jams on all sides because of the way it is built.


OK. Here's where I'm at a loss. The door is solid wood, also about 50 years old, but it is in good shape. However, as a result of having to replace the sill and rebuild the jams, he says the old door will not fit and a new door will (likely fiberglass) will have to be installed. The storm door may not fit back on either (more $$$)

So, my question to those who are more knowledgeable are...

1. Is it possible the sill is constructed in such a way that it can not be replaced w/o rebuilding everything, or am I getting sold a bill-of-goods?

2. How is it that an old door will not fit into "new" jams? Why would I need to replace an otherwise fine solid wood door? The door opening is the same, so shouldn't the door fit?

This guy has a good local rep, but it just seems like a big giant project just to replace a sill. Admittedly ignorant....NNJGUY


TazinCR 08-05-2008 05:58 AM

Take some pictures of it. My feeling has always been, is if it was built it can be rebuilt.(in most cases)

Maintenance 6 08-05-2008 06:32 AM

By "Sill", do you mean the threshold that you actually step on as you walk through the door?

DangerMouse 08-05-2008 06:52 AM

any carpenter worth his salt can rebuild a door jamb exactly the way it was so the old door can go back in. you did not give his reason for wanting to replace the whole thing, is it rotted up the sides as well as the bottom? then the whole jamb can be ripped out and replaced. i see no reason why he cannot remount the door unless it is to save him time and work. (new prehung doors are easier to put in)


buletbob 08-05-2008 07:54 AM

just because he has a good rep around town doesnt mean he is knowledgeable in all aspects of the trade.
yes you can changed threshold with out removing the door assembly, but you risk the chance of damaging the pan flashing in the process.
what we do is cut the threshold in three sections pulling the middle section out first. now the end sections are nailed from the side of the jamb into the threshold so pull the side pieces out towards the front to expose a gap between the threshold and the jamb. take a flat bar and pry these pieces out. get some cutters and cut the nails that are sticking out and then take a nail set and push the remaining piece of the nail into the jamb out of the way.
you can get a new threshold at your locale lumber yard. they come in different widths. take a piece of the old to match it up.
when I doe these i work off of center lines. with the new piece mark the center of the threshold with a square . now measure the width of the jambs from the inside of the dadoes ( with the door closed and the proper revile down the sides. measure the width from dado to dado 36-3/4" + -.
mark this on your new piece centering it on your mark. then measure the width of your jamb 4-3/8 - 4-9/16 + - don't measure to the outside of the brick mould, just the jamb.
from the inside part of the threshold measure back the width of the jamb and mark both sides. know from this mark draw a line parallel to the outside towards the ends.
measure from the dado of the existing jamb to the outside edge of the brick mould and mark this down on the new piece, do this on both sides. this is going to be your horn cut. before you cut this measure from the out side of your brick mold to the outside of the other brick mould and see if the measurements coincide with what you have laid out on the new piece. correct if necessary.
slide the new piece into place to see if it fits OK. now get some pl premium construction adhesive and put some glue into the dado's ,now slide your new sill into place.
put your weather stripping back or what ever you had to seal the bottom of the door, I'm thinking you had metal interlocking weatherstripping installed on your door. most of the times there is a piece of aluminum or brass. that is screwed to the threshold. put it back. put your storm door back and you should be back in shape. if this is something you feel you can do your self fine, if not explain the process to him. Good luck bob.

NNJGUY 08-05-2008 08:21 AM

Wow, thanks. By "sill" I mean the large chunk of wood @ the base of the door, not the other thing (saddle?) that goes on top of it to keep the weather out.

Hmmm. He did mention time. I suppose it is easier/faster to install a whole new unit, but that does not mean the current door can NOT be replaced. I'm just concerned that the door I get is not going to be a solid wood door like I have now, and will likely be of lesser quality.

buletbob, thanks so much for the instructions - but I'm at a loss as to what half of those words refer to! But, the jist of what I think everyone is saying is that the sill CAN be replaced without doing this "whole package".

As far as I know, the rot is only on the sill and not the jams, but there is a lot I can not see. I'll get some pictures up tonight when I get home. Pictures are worth 1000 words you know!

Anyway, the gears are turning in my mind (albeit slowly!) Thanks!

Maintenance 6 08-05-2008 09:01 AM

So this is the outside sill and not just the threshold (saddle) of the door. This is a bit of a different animal if that is the case. There is still no reason that the door couldn't be rehung. but repairs to the sill will require a little different approach than the threshold repair that buletbob outlined. Pictures would make this easier, but it is still possible to replace the sill using most of bob's steps. you or your contractor would likely have to fabricate a new one from some good quality lumber.

NNJGUY 08-05-2008 10:12 AM

Yes, def the sill is what is starting to rot. The saddle is the part on top of that (I think) is still in fine condition. It looks to be a piece of 2"X8" oak.

The whole sill is not rotted, it is just the part that sticks out from under the stormdoor. There isn't much in the way of protection for it (no awning or overhang) so I guess time has taken its toll.

Thanks again, and I'll get some images after work tonight.

NNJGUY 08-05-2008 05:04 PM

Roted Sill Pics!
3 Attachment(s)
So, here's 3 shots I got this afternoon. One straight on, decay pretty obvious, and a shot of each corner that look good (to me anyway). As you can see, the ends of the sill are hidden by some aluminum stuff.

If the jambs are in good shape, do they need to be replaced as I was told?

I spoke to a carpenter this morning in the Lumber yard, and he sort of said the same thing. Maybe it's just easier for them?

I like my door, and if I had to take the jambs off to replace this sill, I would
use that opportunity to reinforce the jambs with some metal or something.

My door is solid! Can I keep it or does it have to go???? :(

DangerMouse 08-05-2008 05:26 PM

keep it.... just cut that sill in half in the middle and pull it off the sides. be careful to only cut the wood. then replace that size and shape if the jamb is ok. pull door, pull sill, pull jamb, rebuild with new piece, replace jamb, then door, paint or stain. but what do i know? i slept at home!


NNJGUY 08-05-2008 05:41 PM

It's THAT easy?

So, are these pros just trying to take me for a ride or what? :furious:

buletbob 08-05-2008 08:46 PM

NNJGUY I believe the contractor has a point, its not going to be an easy repair as I stated earlier. If you cut the rotted threshold out your not going to be able to slide the new one in in one piece. the inside of the threshold is wider then the front because of the extra wide brick mould. your best bet is to scrape the rot out and treat it with the product I'll list below. then paint. and your not going to be able to slide it in from the inside. Pictures speak a 1000 words. The rot is not that bad, this will be your best bang for the buck and you will be able to do this your self. Good luck BOB Also , its going to be a big boo'del, you will have to pull the aluminum trim off just to remove the storm door. it appears that the alum. trim is covering the latch side and hinge side Z bar.

TazinCR 08-05-2008 10:17 PM

You can also cut out the bad and fill it with Bondo body filler, paint. Will last a long, long time.

NNJGUY 08-05-2008 10:17 PM

Thanks Bob for the tips and the product info!

What the picture doesn't show that well, is that the rot extends to the left and the right of what is visible by about 6 inches. The red paint is pretty much the only thing holding this wood together. I can press my thumb into the wood and make an indentation!

If I scrape out all the rotted wood, it will pretty much go up to what is visible at the storm door. The wood under the storm door and behind it is still firm, but the part sticking out is shot. Thankfully, it seems to not have gotten to the edges. Yet. I'm honestly afraid the rot is beyond the scope of the product suggested as the paint hides it quite well.

Yes, it would be quite the puzzle project!

Now, assuming it is not going to be an easy job, and assuming that the sill needs replacement and is beyond repair, is it better to....

  • let carpenter do a "total rebuild", which apparently is new everything including jambs, door, and storm door, or,
  • should I tell them to disassemble everything, fix the sill as best as possible (is one piece an impossibility???) and reassemble as-is so I can keep my door etc?
I want a good job, but I don't want to make the decision based on what is easiest for the carpenter, but what is best for me. I know I am not going to get a door like this one in any replacement job. I still didn't understand why the current door could not be reused, even if new jambs are built. :huh:

The guy was also suggesting a Thermo Tru (?) door. How are they?

You guys have been reallr, really great! I at least have some more ideas here, but I don't think there is an easy fix. Bob I know you're way out on the Island, but if you happen to know anyone in Bergen Co PM me!

DangerMouse 08-06-2008 06:15 AM

i had pretty much the exact problem with my old home, it DID wet and rot the jambs at the bottom and you could not tell because of all the tile red paint. ( yeah, it even LOOKS like the job i did.) if you lived closer, i'd come do the job for you for a small price. (between $100 and $200 --- it'd probably be a 3-5 hour job) there is NO REASON you cannot reuse that door! if you want EASY, then you already answered your own question. ----> let carpenter do a "total rebuild", which apparently is new everything including jambs, door, and storm door, or,
should I tell them to disassemble everything, fix the sill as best as possible (is one piece an impossibility???) and reassemble as-is so I can keep my door etc?<----me however, i would just grab my tools and do it. if this were my job, you'd keep the door no problem. how much is this carpenter/contractor asking to sell you a new door?


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