Sunday, October 23, 2005

Archeology of a door

Here's our front door as it is today. Yesterday I removed the front door and one of the vestibule doors to prep them for painting outside.

The good news is that they are pretty darn solid and also beautiful oak!! I can safely say that next Spring I'll be stripping them to expose the oak.

We knew that the existing door was not original, but we are not sure when it was added or of course, what was originally there. And as you know, inquiring minds want to know.

What we realized yesterday is that the transom window up top is original. It's made of the same wood as all the original windows in the house: a softer pine or poplar- not sure.

The side panels are all made of newer pine and not original and neither are the "leaded glass" (not real lead probably aluminum) side lights. It looks like what was originally there were double doors. We found these old hinge cutouts that indicate that.

We removed the side lights yesterday because one has been cracked for a while and was getting worse. We had a stack of glass panes we were pretty sure were replacement panes in the basement and pulled them out.

You know how it goes, you hope it will be a simple fix, but you never know what you are getting into when dismanteling someone else's work.

As it turns out, the metal frames that were holding the glass in were pretty jimmy-rigged and the panes from the basement were all thicker and didn't fit well into the metal frames.

We also realized how much air loss was going through these windows and that they were way less than airtight. We tried putting glazing in, but then the glass panes wouldn't fit the space.(drats)

So, we removed the glazing and jimmy-rigged the whole thing back up with the trim holding it in place. And we've decided for the time being to have full size panels of glass made for both openings to keep the heat in and get rid of the "leaded glass"(again not real- not original-jimmy-rigged- so no great loss).

Ultimately we want to replace this door with either a salvage door or a Steve-made door in a few years.

Oh, here's another indication that this was a double door. The top of the door has a little cut out where a little inset latch would keep one side of the door in the closed position. My Dad has these kinds of doors on his 2-flat and usually one stays in place and does not open unless you need to get something large inside like a sofa or bed.

Besides the glass fiasco, Steve starting hanging the trim. Some will go up easily and some will require some shimming to make it level due to not perfectly level walls. I was filling, scraping, sanding, and deglossing the entry doors for paint prep as well as stripping door hardware.

Here's a shot of some of the trim up:

and that was our Saturday. At least we were able to get the glass back up and didn't have to board it up or anything right?


Greg said...

It would not surprise me at all that your house originally had double doors. They were extremely popular at the time your house was built. My house has double front doors with a transom over them. I’m willing to be the double doors were removed when the house was converted to a 2-Flat. Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

hi- i had a question about how you were going to clean your entryway floor. what exactly are you going to use? we have a very similar floor in our entry, and despite a lot of scrubbing, it still does not look clean...


Patricia W said...

I know you are planning on stripping the door but even with the paint it is really pretty. I wish my front entry looked so nice.

StuccoHouse said...

Looks very nice! I love the mail slot on the side of the door. I have those little side windows on my front door and have been searching forever for a mail slot to use. The old ones are too small and the new ones are somehow kind of cheesy.

One thing you might consider for your "leaded" glass is stained glass putty (it comes in a tiny tub). It's used in leaded stained put the glass in the channel of the lead came and push the putty in to any gaps to hold it tight in place (it also stops air). Seems like it might work as a temp. solution for your side windows.

jmm922 said...

Hey Greg,

Actually this building was always 2 apartments. It's only now that 2-flats are being converted to single-family. They were a working class housing option back in the day. They built 'em better for the working class back then I'd say!

As to the floor cleaning, we have a Home Depot bought sulfamic acid cleaner we used on our bathroom that worked decently. I was planning to try it on this floor. If it doesn't work, we'll get a stronger acid. I've heard that is what will work.

In some magazine at some point I saw a tip on this subject, but darn if I can remember which old house magazine it was.

Thanks for the compliments and suggestions on the leaded glass too.

Kristin said...

Ooh, double doors are so pretty. I'm jealous of all the houses around our town that have them. I don't know if our front door is original or not, though I tend to suspect not.