• Pete

How to Build a New Interior Door

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we took on our first major house renovation: cutting a new doorway between the 'bonus' room and the dining room.

Our first house was built in 1880, and had two additions and been converted back and forth between a duplex and a single family home at least once over its 135 year life. One of the additions was a room off the kitchen - isolated from the rest of the house with the only access through the kitchen. It's a big room, and would be valuable entertainment space if it was more accessible. So, our solution was to cut a new doorway between the 'bonus' room and the dining room.

No Turning Back

Once we decided to take this on, we had the opportunity to meet the previous owners, whom had lived here for more than 30 years. Miracle of miracles, we learned there used to be a doorway in this exact spot! When we opened up the wall, we definitely found the replaced studs, they're easy to pick out since they're not older than time. The original exterior wall was framed with rough cut 2x6's with another inch of original tongue and groove sheathing on the outside.

This was one of the original exterior walls of the house. Carlyn got to channel her inner 'Flip or Flop' and take a hammer to the drywall. By scoring the paint and paper along our lines and using a keyhole saw to cut along the framing, we were able to keep the damage to the surrounding drywall to a minimum

Every Old House Has Secrets

After chopping out the drywall, and discovering the questionable lack of a header... there was some framing to do. Installing new cripple studs alongside the original framing we could support a new laminated header across the top of the doorway. New jack studs transfer the load from the floor above to the header. Basic framing for a doorway, but without tearing up the plaster on the other side, all went in to frame out the new doorway to the dining room. This went surprisingly well, I left the original studs in place, and used that dimension to size out the new old door.

Finish What You Start!

Every old house has surprises. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad. Learning to expect and deal with anything is part of owning these 100-year-old homes.

This is where things got out of hand! With the two of us on a roll, we turned around and ripped out a layer of floating cork flooring, followed by a layer of parquet tiles and underlayment plywood. Also, all the trim and a couple of built in cabinets.

It was a late night, but finished everything up around midnight on Saturday! We definitely put our squat muscles to the test, with the help of a couple pry bars!

Sunday morning we left to pick out new flooring: Coastal Maple. A light grey color gave the airy feel we wanted for the room. The rest of the first floor is all narrow strip oak, probably original to the house, and we didn't want to give any impression we were trying to match. 

Renting a flooring stapler was the right choice, it's a tool you're not likely to need often and the rental is only $20-30 a day. Fortunately I have a small air compressor that can keep up easily. I set the staples at around 100psi, but do some tests and keep a hammer and nail-set nearby for any staples sticking up. Using a finish nailer with 18ga nails, I face nailed around the perimeter and the final course.

The Finished Product

By Sunday evening, I was done with the flooring stapler, and we had a new floor. Fast forward a few weeks, and we finished out the baseboard, cap and toe molding, fresh coat of light green on the walls and our Joybird couch was delivered. Fantastic little room at the back of the house to relax, have a drink and plan the next project!


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