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Old 12-12-2010, 10:46 AM   #1
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


House is 82 years old. First floor is masonry walls with an outer layer of brick an inner layer of terra cote blocks and plaster to finish the inside wall. The front and side doors were decrepit single panel wood with three lights at the top. Faded varnish. 1/4" plywood panels made up the insulation. The side storm door had succumbed to a storm years before.

We had looked at doors before. The wife wanted an oval light. But the doors we would see in the store were $1,500. <choke> So I was walking through the local Home Depot last summer and spotted a deal they were having on steel doors units with oval lights for $179. Now that's my price range. I had planned on doing the side door first to make all my mistakes and put the front door in after some experience. But the oval door was for the front which now was going to be done first. More on that later.

I measured and measured and measured and decided that while the new door itself was slightly larger than the old door, the door jamb was ever so slightly smaller. This would mean no enlargement of the opening would be necessary.

As soon as the first piece of molding came off, I knew everything I had seen on the DIY shows was wrong. These doors were installed by standing them up and building the wall around it. As courses of the terra cote blocks came up, the mason would put a wooden plank between courses and nail the door frame into it as an anchor. Then they put a 4x4 header over the whole thing to finish the opening.

The door unit itself required some modification. The jam had to be 1" deeper and the brick molding required 1/2" trimmed off the edge to fit in the opening in the brick layer.

Tearing out the old front door pretty much scared me stupid. The more I saw of the insides of the masonry wall, the more I was certain the whole thing would simply collapse without the reinforcement of the door frame. Also I was working out where the whole world could see. I so much prefer making my mistakes in private.

The door squeezed into the opening with a some convincing from my little friend, Mr. Hammer. Some shimming under the threshold (part of the door unit) squared it up. Sound simple? Try about four hours of measure, tap, measure, tap back. Screws through the frame tied into the anchor in the wall. Then I sealed the whole frame in place with four cans of Great Stuff. This makes for about 7 square feet of urethane holding the door in place. Then the inside molding competes the installation. Wood anchors in the wall, the urethane foam, and the wall sandwiched between the brick molding and the inside molding. I don't think it will go anywhere anytime soon.

The threshold of the door opening is concrete poured above the foundation wall. Unlike modern houses where the opening is at subfloor level, on my house the opening is at the finished floor level. This makes the door threshold somewhat high which isn't so much of a problem on the inside, but created almost an inch gap on the outside as the concrete threshold slopes down there. So what we decided to do was tile the steps. On the front, this was only a single step up from the porch and fairly straightforward. On the side is three steps that had to be built up with concrete before they could be tiled to even out the rises.

Two Andersen storm doors, wood filler, sanding (the molding, not the doors), paint and voile.

I had originally planned to do the side door first to learn on and then do the front. But I ran into some snags on the side. Apparently, the master mason did the front wall. The apprentice did the side. The front door opening was as straight, true, and square as you could ask for. The side door opening was not. Subtle little variations that made it hard to put the door in. I ended up taking another 1/2" off the brick molding on the side, leaving me with a substantial gap to deal with. I didn't think the caulk I'd used on the front would work in such a large gap so I mortared it. We'll see how that works over time.

Total job for two insulated steel doors with storm doors installed was right around $1,000 and at my usual glacial work pace, about three months from buying the first door to finishing the painting. But as I write this, it's about 26 degrees outside with blowing snow and none of it's blowing in the doorway. So that's a wrap.

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Old 12-20-2010, 11:56 PM   #2
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


I sure would like to see some pictures.

"Screws through the frame tied into the anchor in the wall. Then I sealed the whole frame in place with four cans of Great Stuff. This makes for about 7 square feet of urethane holding the door in place. Then the inside molding competes the installation. Wood anchors in the wall, the urethane foam, and the wall sandwiched between the brick molding and the inside molding. I don't think it will go anywhere anytime soon."

If you set the frame and then foam it. Not heavy because it can swell and distort the jam. You can set the screws and anchors after it sets. Makes it much easier. I set my doors with only foam but they were not steel. Anchors never seem to be exactly where you want them to be, esp when you tighten things up. Go for foam and wait a few hours. Just my 2 cents, dorf dude...

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Old 12-23-2010, 12:55 AM   #3
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Couldn't post pictures before because Mr. Job's ^%#$@*! iPhone wouldn't communicate with Mr. Gate's *@#%*@# Windows Vista. But that's a different home project.

These pictures are a combo of the front and side doors. Here's the front door in its 82 year old glory.

complete with old newspaper.

This is the side door opening after removing the door and jam.

The door opening includes a steel angle header for the bricks and a 4x4 header under the terracotta blocks. More detail of the wall construction here.

Note the lack of insulation. One layer of brick, and air gap (dang little mortar between the brick and block layer), a block layer, then plaster. Fortunately, St. Louis isn't a big earthquake zone.

The door jams requires some modification because the block section was an inch deeper than a normal 4" frame wall. Also the brick molding had to be trimmed to fit inside the opening in the bricks.


I made sure to cover the doors before applying the urethane foam anchoring. Urethane is very sticky and I didn't want it mucking up the door finish. Even with the front door completely covered (side door pictured) and the floor protected, a big wad of foam rolled off the top, stuck a little to the paper, swung to the side, managing to land on the carpet just off the paper on the floor. But rather than smear it around trying to clean it up, I let it harden in place and then cut the blob off the carpet with a knife.

Note the shims wedged between the door and the jam to keep the jam from being deformed and pressing against the door. The strip at the top were to stabilize the door from falling out while it was still loose. The painter's tape along the sides mark where the wood anchors are in the wall.

While the doors were removed, I ran new bell wire for doorbells. Also I added a combo lock. This has prevented a number of embarrassing lock outs since I put it in. Not sure how I got by without it for 20+ years.


The finished side steps.


and the finished side door.

This storm door has the roll up screen in the top half. A nice feature that got used as soon as the door was installed.

I think I may redo the finished pictures in daylight.









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Old 12-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #4
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Final results

Front door before:


Front door after:

(anybody want a cat?)

Side door in daylight:
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:59 PM   #5
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Nice job! The jobs always work out to be more than expected, but isn't it worth it in the end.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:52 AM   #6
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I just went through a very similar process. My house was built in 1953, when the masons built the walls they apparently didnt care how clean the opening was. The opening required quite a bit of cleaning up after i removed the old door but the end result was very nice.


Before



After

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Old 12-31-2010, 06:43 PM   #7
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


As Mr Burns from the Simpsons would say, "E-e-xcellent."

Amazing what a new door can do for a house. It's almost like it's the first thing your eye focuses on.

I would say from the sticker in the first picture, you're doing windows, too. I still have to get to that part.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:54 AM   #8
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Yes the windows are a SLOW process. ive gottten 2 done and have about 27 left to go.

Due to the house being all brick and there is no framing to sit the window in have have to build one for each window. I am using pvc board instead of wood so that i dont have to worry about painting or having it rot down the road. Also all the new trim around the door is pvc. It makes for a very clean look.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:08 PM   #9
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1982shawn View Post
Yes the windows are a SLOW process. ive gottten 2 done and have about 27 left to go.

Due to the house being all brick and there is no framing to sit the window in have have to build one for each window. I am using pvc board instead of wood so that i dont have to worry about painting or having it rot down the road. Also all the new trim around the door is pvc. It makes for a very clean look.
You could always use some pressure treated wood to construct a frame from. Better to flash between dis-similar materials, i.e. wood/masonry, wood/metal etc.
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Old 02-12-2011, 01:58 PM   #10
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1982shawn View Post
Is your door bell mounted on the wood frame? I know my house was built in 1977 and the doorbell is mounted on the wood frame, I really think it's tacky, and want to know how to install one in the brick.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:07 PM   #11
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In the old door it was minted in the brick. The new one is mounted in the wood, ill write a description and post a picture later this weekend.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:10 PM   #12
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Awesome, I just like the look of what mwpiper did.

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Old 02-13-2011, 03:14 PM   #13
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Thanks!

But I was able to bury the bell wire in the mortar because the door jam was removed. I chiseled out the mortar from the door bell around the corner to the doorway, pulled the wire into the wall and fed it down through big voids in the masonry to feed into the basement, then dyed some mortar and covered the bellwire. If the door jam is not removed, you're going to have to find some other path from the face of the brick to inside the house.
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Dinggus View Post
Is your door bell mounted on the wood frame? I know my house was built in 1977 and the doorbell is mounted on the wood frame, I really think it's tacky, and want to know how to install one in the brick.
They make wireless door bells. That would be much easier.
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:21 PM   #15
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Replacing Doors in masonry wall


They sell prehung doors without brickmold that you would trim yourself when you have a thickness to compensate.

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