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In depth information on do it yourself home property maintenance, covering all aspects of residential home, commercial, business, and apartment building repair, remodeling, and renovation projects Featuring tips, advice, how-to and step-by-step information to help you maintain and improve the value of your business building and home.

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How To Build a Screen Door

Let the cool breezes come in while keeping insects out. Screen doors add comfort and style to your home. Building one is a nice easy project for a novice woodworker. The door is made with simple but strong half-lap joints, using just a few basic hand tools and a circular saw. The basics for building a screen door are presented here. Although a standard design is shown, you can easily modify it to create a custom door. Materials List

  • Tape measure

  • Circular saw

  • 10 C clamps

  • Utility knife

  • 3/4-in. chisel

  • Square

  • Paintbrush

  • Polyurethane glue

  • Disposable glue brush

  • 5/4 lumber (1 1/4 inch frame)

  • 1/4 x 3/4 screen molding

  • Staples

  • Drill

  • Spade bits

  • Staple gun

  • Nail hammer

  • 1x1 lumber (cleats)

  • 1-inch brads or nails

  • Paint or other finish

  • Aluminum insect screening

  • Screen door hardware

1. Cut and Lay Out Parts: Buy or cut lumber to the desired width for the stiles (vertical boards) and rails (horizontal boards) of the door. Cut stiles equally to the full desired height and cut rails to the full width of the door. Next, lay out boards, label them, and mark each board on the face that coordinates with the face of another one as shown.

2. Cut Half-Lap Joints: Insert one or more boards into a jig that guides your saw. Set the cutting depth equal to 9/16 in. (or half the board thickness). Starting at one cut line, make numerous passes with the saw to remove all materials between the two cut lines. Clean out and smooth the joint with a chisel. Repeat the process for all joints on all boards.

  • Tip: This guide was made by screwing a board across two other boards at right angles. (Check angle with a square.) The lower two boards can be spaced to accommodate one board (as shown here) or several at a time. Tack the lower two boards directly to your workbench to help hold the jig square.

3. Assemble Door Parts: Trial-assemble the parts. If all pieces fit well, apply polyurethane glue (a very good exterior glue) to all joints using a disposable glue brush. Assemble the pieces and clamp the joints together with C clamps. Make sure each joint is square before tightening its clamp; and when all clamps are in place, check for overall square by measuring the door diagonals (they should be equal). Let the glue cure as directed on the label.

4. Add Screen Cleats: Although it would be possible to staple the screening to the face of the frame, it will look much nicer if it is recessed by the thickness of the screen molding (1/4 inch). To create this recess, glue and nail 3/4 x 3/4-in. cleats to the 5/4 framework, flush with the inside.

  • Tip: Alternately, make the stiles and rails 3/4 in. wider and use your saw to create a 1/4 x 3/4-in. rabbet (channel) on the inside edge of each stile and rail.

5. Install Screening: Before you install the screening, apply paint, stain, varnish, or other finish to all wood surfaces. To install screening, set the door on blocks and clamp it at the middle. Roll screening over the entire door and staple it to the top and bottom rails. Release the clamps to stretch the screen tight. Complete stapling the screen to the stiles and internal frame. Cut excess screening with a utility knife. Cut screen molding to size and tack it over screen channel to conceal the staples.

6. Install Hardware: There are many hardware options. The simplest combination is a face-mounted spring hinge with a handle screwed to each side of the door. Just set the door in the opening (shimmed at the bottom) and attach the hinges to the trim (casing) around the main door and the screen door stile. Attach a metal handle with screws. If you prefer, install a door lock set instead of the spring hinge with handle following manufacturer's instructions.

  • Tip: Unless you're into the nostalgia associated with squeaking screen doors, use galvanized hinges with brass pins.

Create a Pet Door Hole

What You Need

  • Pet Door Kit (correct size for your pet

  • Dremel Cutting Guide Attachment #565

  • Hammer and Metal Punch

  • Pencil

1. At the bottom center of a hollow core door, trace the pet door template. Be sure this does not give access to your deadbolt.

2. Metal punch the corners of the traced area. With the #561 drill completely through all four marks.

3. With the #561 and the cutting guide, carefully cut along the traced lines. Adjust the depth of the guide, making sure you're cutting through both sides.

Exterior Doors and Storm Doors

Doors are necessary for access and often for ventilation and illumination too. However, if they are in poor condition (or just very old) they can contribute to more than 40% of a building’s air leak related energy losses.

Exterior Door Replacement

Modern exterior doors often fit and insulate better than old ones, and their associated heat losses (or gains) come from opening and closing the door. However, damaged weatherstripping can increase energy loss around the door by many times. Check your weather-stripping every year and replace it as needed. After replacing the weather-stripping, check the door seal again. If the door still does not seal tightly to all sides of the jamb you either installed the weatherstripping badly or the door is bent and in need of replacement.

Consider an insulated metal or fiberglass door when replacing exterior doors. They are a better investment than wooden doors since they are much more durable, have lower maintenance needs and seal and insulate better. They also have the added advantage of offering more of a deterrent to intruders.

Most insulated door prices range from $200 to $400. One common type has a steel skin with a polyurethane foam core; they usually have a magnetic strip (similar to a refrigerator door magnetic seal) for weather-stripping. If installed correctly and, if the door is not bent, this type of door needs no further weather-stripping. The R-values of most steel and fiberglass clad entry doors range from R-5 to R-6 (not including the effects of a window.) For example: A 1-1/2 inch (3.81 cm) thick door without a window offers better than five times the insulating value of a solid wood door of the same size.

When you buy a door, it will probably be prehung in a frame. Prehung doors usually come with wood or steel frames. In most cases, you will need to remove the existing doorframe from the rough opening before you install a prehung door. The doorframe must be as square as possible, so that the door seals tightly to the jamb and swings properly. It is a good idea to use expanding foam caulking to seal the new doorframe to the rough opening and threshold to prevent air from getting around the door seals and into the house. You should do this before adding the interior trim.

Glass or "patio" doors, especially sliding glass doors, lose heat much faster than other types of doors because glass is a very poor insulator. Multiple layers of glass and low-e coatings improve the situation by 2 to 3 times, but it is still considerable worse than for a foam-core door.

A sliding glass door’s weather-stripping is intended to reduce air infiltration, however by the sliding nature of the door’s design it is impossible to stop all the air leaking around the weatherstripping while still being able to use the door. Also, after years of use, the weatherstripping wears down and air leakage increases as the door ages. If the manufacturer has made it possible to do so, replace worn weatherstripping on sliding glass doors with new weatherstripping.

When replacing patio doors, keep in mind that swinging doors offer a much tighter seal than sliding types. Most modern glass doors with metal frames have a "thermal break," which is a plastic insulator between inner and outer parts of the frame. Glass doors are also optionally manufactured with several layers of glazing, low-e coatings, and low conductivity gases between the glass panes. These options are a good investment, especially in extreme climates. Over the long run, the additional cost is paid back many times over in energy savings.

Storm Doors

Adding a storm door that costs about $200 or less is generally a good investment if your existing door is old, but still in good condition, but adding a new (or more expensive) storm door to a modern foam core door is not generally worth the expense since the added energy saved is very small. But you may have aesthetic reasons for wanting a storm door anyway. In any case, never add a glass storm door if the door gets more than a few hours of direct sun each day. The glass will trap too much heat against the entry door and possibly damage it.

Storm doors for patio doors are hard to find but they are available. Adding one to a modern multi-glazed energy-efficient low-e door is seldom economic. Insulated drapes, when closed for the night in the winter (or on sunny days in the summer) are also a good idea.

High quality storm doors and windows use low-e glass. Frames are usually made of aluminum, steel, fiberglass, or wood (painted or not). Wooden storm doors require more maintenance than the other types. Metal-framed storm doors and windows might have foam insulation in their frames.

Some doors have self-storing pockets for the glass in summer, and an insect screen for the winter. Some storm windows have fixed, full length screens and glass panels that slide out of the way for ventilation. Others are half screen and half glass; these two components slide past each other. Some are easily removed for cleaning, others are not. All of these features add some convenience and higher costs.


Replacement weatherstripping is often available at most building supply and hardware stores. There are a wide variety of materials to choose from including: foam rubber, EPDM rubber, felt, bent metal, and plastic.

When selecting weatherstripping, you should consider the durability of the material as well as what would work best for what you are weatherstripping. For example: bent brass and aluminum is found on many older doors and are durable, but they conduct heat easily, don’t usually seal that well, and are easily damaged by being bent the wrong way or through poor installation.

Bent metal weatherstripping is also one of the most expensive weatherstripping materials. Bent plastics are similar to the bent metals, but are less expensive. They are also less durable. Most rubber and foam materials stay flexible for years, are inexpensive, easily replaced and effectively seal air leaks. You should choose the appropriate door sweeps and thresholds for the bottom of the doors as well.

For the best possible results from your investment, you should make certain that the weatherstripping material will stay flexible under extreme weather conditions. Also be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, you should:

  1. Weatherstrip the entire door jamb;

  2. Apply one continuous strip along each side;

  3. Make sure the stripping meets tightly at the corners; and

  4. Use a thickness that, when the door closes, the stripping tightly presses between the door and the door jamb without making the door too hard to close.

Plastic Storm Doors:

In most cases, storm doors are intended to be permanent additions to a home. If you have a window or door that is not opened for long periods of time, a less costly do-it-yourself solution is to seal it from the inside with a plastic sheet. You can make a temporary storm door (or window) by mounting the plastic sheet on a light-weight wooden frame, which has the same dimensions as the opening.

Add small handles near the bottom half of the frame to make taking it out easier. Add a strip of felt weather-stripping around the frame for a tight seal. Some hardware and home improvement stores sell prepackaged kits. The plastic usually comes folded or in rolls, and is 4, 6, and 8 mils(one mil equals 1/1000 of an inch) thick. The thicker sheets are more durable. If you leave your plastic storm door (or window) up all year long, try to buy plastic that is ultraviolet (UV) resistant. It will last longer

Fix a Door That Won't Latch

A door should close and latch with a gentle push or pull. If you need to slam it or if it won't latch at all, figure out the cause and the solution is easy:

  • The door may be warped so the top or bottom touches the stop before the latch can engage - close the door and see if it engages the stop molding evenly.

  • Newly installed weatherstripping may be preventing the door from closing as fully as it once did.

  • A loose top hinge or house settling can cause a vertical misalignment between the latch and the strike plate - make sure screws are tight and look for an uneven gap across the top of the closed door.

  • The strike plate or the stop molding may simply have been installed improperly.

You don't have to put up with these annoying problems. Here are a few very simple fixes.

Materials Needed:

  • Hammer

  • Wood glue

  • Utility knife

  • Wood putty or caulk

  • Putty knife

  • Drill and twist bits

  • Trim pry bar

  • Self-centering punch or drill bit

  • Nippers or locking pliers

  • Metal file

  • 4d finishing nails

  • 3-in. brass screws

  • Phillips and standard screwdrivers

1. Adjust the Doorstop: If the door hits the stop molding before the latch bolt has engaged the hole in the strike plate, tap the stop in, as shown. This works better with stained doors than painted ones, which don't move as easily because the paint glues the joint.

  • Tip: If the door is painted, score the joints between the stop molding and the jamb with a utility knife before you attempt to move or remove it.

2. Move the Doorstop: If a minor adjustment doesn't solve the problem, remove the stop molding at the latch jamb and, if necessary, on the head jamb, too. Remove the nails left in the molding from the backside (so you won't damage the face) using nippers or locking pliers. Pull or drive in any nails left in the jamb. To reinstall the molding: Close the door and let the latch bolt engage, place the stop in position and press it lightly against the door, and install new 4d finishing nails in new locations. Set the nails, fill the holes, and touch up the finish.

  • Tip: A thin putty knife may not be strong enough to pry the trim off. It will, however, at least open the gap between the molding and the jamb enough so you can insert the trim pry bar without causing damage.

3. Relocate Strike Plate: Move the strike plate up, down, or in as needed. Remove the strike plate and fill the screw holes with wood putty or a glued matchstick. Use a sharp chisel or utility knife to enlarge the mortise in the direction that you need to move the plate. Reposition the strike plate to mark the screw locations. Drill pilot holes and reinstall the plate. If the move is more than 1/16 inch, touch up any gap with caulk or wood filler, and touch up the finish.

  • Tip: Use a self-centering punch or self-centering drill bit to make the new pilot hole. The head of the tool fits in the screw head recess in the hinge to ensure the pilot hole will be centered.

4. Enlarge the Strike Opening: Depending on the type of strike plate you have, you may also be able to enlarge the opening in the strike plate with a smooth-cut metal file. This approach eliminates any need to putty and paint. Remove the strike plate and lock it in a vise to file it.

5. Secure Top Hinge: Tighten any lose hinge screws. If the hole is stripped and the screw won't tighten, remove the screw and drill a deeper pilot hole for a new 3-in. screw that will extend into the framing behind the jamb. Also use this approach if the screws are tight but you still need to raise the handle side of the door so the latch will engage. As you over tighten the long screw in the top hinge, it tends to draw the jamb in and simultaneously raise the handle side of the door.

  • Tip: Take the old hinge screw or the hinge leaf with you to the store to make sure the new screw is the right size for your hinge.

Fixing a Stubborn Pocket Door
By: Paul Bianchina

Pocket doors – doors that slide back into a hidden cavity in the wall – are a handy solution to door installations in a variety of areas. They can free up space in a tight bathroom, block off noise from the utility room without interfering with the washer, or even be used in pairs to create an impressive entry to a den or dining room.

But when they quit working right, pocket doors can be a perplexing item to repair – it’s difficult to see how to obtain any access to them. So it’s helpful to understand how a pocket door is installed in the first place, because repairing one involves reversing some of those installation steps.

During the time when the wall is being framed, the pocket doorframe is installed. The frame consists of a slender box that resembles a tall, narrow crate. There is a front consisting of two vertical boards and back that’s a single vertical board, with horizontal slats on both sides that connect to the front and back. On top, a long horizontal board is installed that holds a metal track, and a finished jamb leg is installed at the end of that track.

When the installation of the frame and track is complete, it takes up a space in the wall that is twice the width of the door itself. Drywall is then installed over the pocket door frame, leaving an opening in the wall that’s slightly wider that the width of the door.

Next, rollers are installed on the top of the door, and the door is installed by placing it in the opening, holding it at a slight angle, and then lifting it up and hooking the rollers into the overhead track. The roller mechanisms are then adjusted to raise the door and get it plumb to the opening, ensuring smooth operation and a proper height clearance over the floor.

At this point, the door is hanging on its track but it will actually swing back and forth, like a flap over an opening. So the final step is to install a pair of trim boards vertically on each side of the opening in the frame where the door disappears into the wall. This finishes off the installation, and prevents the door from moving back and forth in the opening. With some installations, a pair of horizontal trim pieces are also installed on the top board, on either side of the track, to help conceal the track and further stabilize the door.

To remove and repair a pocket door, the first few steps need to be reversed, starting with the removal of the trim boards that lock the door in place. First, identify the two vertical trim boards, one on either side of the opening into the wall. If the boards are painted, use a utility knife to carefully score through the paint along the edges of the board. Then, use a small, stiff putty knife and work the blade between the back of the trim board and the door frame behind it. Work slowly and carefully, and create a small gap along the back of the board.

Finally, work a small, flat-bladed pry bar into the gap and gently pry the trim boards off. Keep your putty knife flat behind the pry bar as you pry with it to prevent damaging the doorframe. If necessary, remove the horizontal top trim boards alongside the track, using the same method

With the trim boards off, you can now remove the door. This is done by swinging the door through the opening until it’s at about a 15 or 20 degree angle, then lifting up so that the wheels dislodge from the track – for large or heavy doors, this may be a two-person operation.

Close the door and examine the shape of the overhead track. Some types resemble an inverted U-shape, with the opening for the wheels pointing down, while other types resemble the letter C, with the opening for the wheels facing to one side. With the U-shaped track, the door can be swung to either side for removal; with the C-shaped track, you will need to swing the door so that the door bottom goes in the direction of the closed part of the "C".

From here, the repairs depend on the specific problem you are having with the door. If it is rubbing on the floor, you can adjust the rollers up to provide additional clearance – if the rollers are already adjusted all the way up, then you will need to carefully mark and cut a small portion off the bottom of the door. If you are having trouble rolling the door, the wheels may need to be simply cleaned and oiled, or you may have a wheel that is "dead" – stuck and unable to roll – in which case you will need to replace the roller mechanisms. Check with a door company or larger home center or hardware store for replacement roller assemblies – remember that the replacement parts need to be compatible with the existing track, so take your old ones along for reference.

Finally, reinstall the door in the same manner that you removed it, and then reinstall the trim pieces.

Install a Door Sweep or Door Bottom

Both door sweeps and door bottoms seal the gap at the bottom of a door from drafts, noise, dirt, rain, snow, and pests. At $10 or less, this weatherstripping item pays for itself within a couple of years by reducing energy costs. The flexible seal material is either vinyl (best air seal and most durable) or polyester brush. The rigid channel, called a carrier, may be available in mill finish, gold- or brass-colored aluminum, white or brown plastic or aluminum, and natural wood.

Tools & Materials

  • Door sweep or door bottom

  • Awl or drill w/1/16-in. bit

  • Tape measure

  • Screwdriver

  • Hacksaw

  • Utility knife

  • File

Installing a Door Sweep:

Standard sweep attaches to the exterior face of the door and extends below it to cover the gap. If interior carpeting would interfere with the standard sweep, choose an automatic model, which rises as the door opens. Of the two types available, the one that springs up from a pivot point is easier to install and cheaper, but does not look as nice or seal quite as well as the vertically rising model.

1. Measure: Chose a sweep that is at least as long as your door is wide. Measure the distance between the doorstop, subtract the amount specified in the package instructions, and mark the sweep for cutting. (A vertically rising sweep has a working section and a cover to be cut, and must be cut only on the strike/handle side of the door.)

2. Cut: Slide the vinyl (or brush) seal out of the carrier before you cut the carrier with a fine-tooth hacksaw blade. Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper (for wood or plastic carriers) or a file (for aluminum carriers). Reinsert the vinyl strip and trim it with a utility knife.

3. Make Pilot Holes: With the door closed, position the sweep against the door so it makes light contact with the threshold below. Trace the slotted mounting holes. Punch or drill pilot holes in the center of your marks.

4. Secure Sweep: Using the screws provided, mount the sweep to the door. As you tighten the screws, adjust the sweep up or down as needed for good contact with the threshold. If you are installing an automatic sweep, install the bumper or strike plate as directed in the instructions.

5. Installing a Door Bottom: L- and U-shaped door bottoms, especially the types with a drip cap, offer added protection for the bottom of the door. Typically you must cut the door to accommodate an L-shaped model, but you can adjust a U-shaped one to suit the gap you have, provided there is at least the minimum required space. You may need to shorten the door.

1. Measure: With the door closed measure the distance from stop to stop. Very carefully measure the gap between the bottom of the door and the top of the threshold. Measure at the door center and at the left and right sides to determine whether the gap is uniform and is within the tolerance of the product you are using.

2. Install: Measure, mark, and cut the door bottom as described for the door sweep above. Hold the door bottom in place. (For a U-shaped model, open the door to slide on the channel, and close the door carefully.) Adjust it until the seal material makes light contact along its entire length with the threshold. Then secure it with screws in pilot holes, as described for a door sweep (Steps 3 and 4 above).

Install Mitered Door Casing

Casing, as the trim around doors (and windows) is called, has a strong impact on the overall style, appearance, and proportion of an opening as well as the overall style of your home's interior. On the practical side, it conceals the gap between the door frame (called a jamb) and the rough opening and helps to hold the frame in the opening.

Casing can be relatively plain, such as the popular clamshell design or square-edge design (called S4S), or detailed, such as colonial-style molding. By far the most popular casing joint design (and the one described in this column) is the mitered picture-frame casing.

If you want to install a new door including the frame and you elect to use a "prehung" door, it may have the casing already mounted on one side. If so, you only need to install the casing on the opposite side after the jamb is plumbed, squared, and secured in the opening. If you are retrimming an existing doorway, your first step will be to pry off the existing casing.

Tools & Materials

  • Safety glasses or goggles

  • 4d finishing nails

  • Trim pry bar

  • Block plane

  • Hammer

  • Surform tool

  •  Utility knife

  •  Sanding block

  •  Drywall-taping knife or wide putty knife

  •  Coarse, medium and fine-grit sandpaper

  •  Combination square

  • Wood glue

  • Sharp pencils

  •  6d or 8d casing nails (or finishing nails)

  •  Tape measure

  • Nail set

  • Casing

  • Putty knife

  • Power miter saw

  • Wood putty or acrylic caulk (if painting)

  •  Finishing supplies (paint, stain, etc.)

  •  Wax putty sticks (if staining)

1. Remove Existing Casing: If you are retrimming an existing door, pry off the existing casing carefully so you won't damage the wall or the doorjamb.

  • Caution: Always wear eye protection during demolition, cutting, and nailing procedures. To prevent possible puncture injury, immediately bend over or pull any nails from the removed casing.

  • Tip: If a film of paint or bead of caulk bridges the joint between the casing and the wall, cut the seal with the point of a utility knife before attempting to pry the trim. This makes prying easier and eliminates the chance that you will pull off some of the wall finish or surface paper when you pry the casing. Also, insert a thin flat blade (such as that on a drywall-taping knife or wide putty knife) between the trim and the pry bar so you can pry without damage to the wall.

2. Mark the Reveals: The inside edge of the casing is typically placed back from the inside edge of the jamb by about 3/16 inch. To mark this reveal, set the blade position in a combination square so it protrudes 3/16 inch and mark jambs at the top corners, the midpoint of the head jamb, and several points along the side jamb. To make the mark, position the body of the square against the face of the jamb with the blade extending over the edge and mark at the end of the blade.

3. Cut All Miters: Measure the distance between your marks on the side jambs at the upper corners (frame opening plus 2 times the reveal) and miter-cut your head casing at 45 degrees on both ends so the short dimension equals your measurement. Cut miters on one end of each piece of side casing. Remember that one will be left-handed and one right handed. (You'll square-cut it to length in Step 6.)

  • Tip: While not absolutely necessary, a power miter saw is far better than a miter box saw, even a professional-quality one. The power saw makes perfect cuts and can also make the very fine tapered adjustments that are often necessary for perfect miter joints. If you can't justify buying one, rent one.

  • Caution: If you are a novice, obtain and read a tool operator's manual, book, or article dealing with use of the power miter saw; or ask the rental dealer to explain how to safely use it.

4. Prime or Stain: Before you install the casing: if you intend to paint, apply a primer, or if you plan a natural finish, apply a stain and first topcoat. Cover the sides and both faces to seal the wood and prevent warping. Prefinishing is also easier than painting in place, especially if you don't intend to paint the walls when the installation is complete. If you stain before assembly, you also avoid the problem of stain not taking over any glue spots at the joints.

5. Tack Head Casing: Using 4d finishing nails, lightly tack the head casing into the jamb so it just covers your pencil marks. If the casing is being installed on the exterior you must use weather-resistant fasteners, such as hot-dipped galvanized nails.

  • Tip: To prevent splitting in this usually thin edge of the casing keep your nails back at least one inch from the ends of the molding. It also helps to lubricate the nail by carefully rubbing it against the side of your nose (yes, nose oil really works!).

6. Cut and Test-fit Side Casings: Stand the left side casing upside down next to the left jamb with its long side against the point of the head casing, and mark its desired length directly. Alternatively, measure from the floor to the top left-hand edge of the head casing and transfer that measurement to the casing. Square-cut at your mark and test the fit.
7. Make Adjustments: If the miter does not meet without a gap, which can happen if the jamb is not square or if it sits slightly below or above the plane of the wall, the casing miter may need recutting. Since cutting will result in the casing being slightly short, however, first try one of the following procedures:

  • a. If a joint is open because the jamb protrudes out from the wall plane, use a sharp block plane to plane at least the last foot or so of the head and side jambs until they are flush with the wall.

  • b. If the jamb sits slightly below the surface, you may be able to improve your miter fit by removing a little of the drywall where it bumps into the back of the casing.

  • c. Use a Surform tool or a wooden sanding block with coarse sandpaper to back-bevel the miter cuts slightly. By removing some material from the back edge of the mitered face of one or both mating pieces, you may be able to close the open joint on the face of the joint (the only part that shows).

8. Secure Casing: Apply glue to the end of the side casing and position it so it fits tightly with the head casing. (Don't worry about lining it up with the reveal marks on the rest of the jamb yet.) Secure it to the jamb with 6d or 8d casing (or finishing) nails. Position the nail about 1 inch from the end and near the outside edge of the casing.

Then use a 4d finishing nail to secure the inside edge of the casing to the jamb. See the tip under Step 5 to avoid splitting the molding when you nail it. Once the miter is tight, continue nailing the rest of the casing. Work your way from the top down, nailing at five equally spaced positions. Repeat for the opposite side and then complete nailing the head casing at the two ends and midpoint.

9. Cross-nail Miters: To prevent miters from opening, drive a 4d finishing nail through the edge of the head and side casings about 3/4 inch from the outside corner. This will lock them together. Once again, see tip under Step 5 to avoid splitting the molding.
10. Finishing Touches: Wipe off any excess glue immediately with a damp cloth, drive all nail heads slightly below the surface with a nail set and hammer, and hand-sand as needed to make casings flush with each other and to eliminate any splinters. If you plan to paint, fill nail holes with wood putty or acrylic caulk first; if you will stain, fill them with colored wax putty sticks after you complete finishing.

How To Repair an Aluminum Storm or Screen Door

Aluminum storm doors are generally quite rugged and maintenance-free but with age repairs may be needed. Use any of the following quick fixes to restore your door to like-new condition. The repairs are very easy and require only basic tools. Most of the materials are readily available, including several styles of door locks (including keyed models), pneumatic closers, and replacement vinyl seals for the door bottom.

Tools & Materials

  • Screwdriver

  • Pneumatic door closer

  • Storm door handle

  • Tape measure

  • Awl or pencil

  • Threaded rivet

  • Drill or drill/driver

  • Rivet gun

  • Twist bits

  • Aluminum storm sash clip w/knurled screw

Replace a Broken Handle

1. Remove the two screws that join the interior and exterior plates of the old door lock, and take apart the two- or three-piece assembly. Remove the two screws securing the old strike, too. If your replacement lock has the same mounting hole positions, simply reverse the sequence to install the new handle.

2. If installing a different handle, follow the maker's directions to position the paper template on the door and to mark and drill new mounting holes. Make sure that you place the new handle far enough above or below the knob of the exterior door so they won't interfere with each other.

3. Assemble the new handle onto the door as directed and secure it with screws.

Install a Pneumatic Closer

1. Install the closer where you can reach the hold-open washer (typically at the center rail). Position the jamb bracket on the hinge-side doorframe allowing the necessary space from the storm door (and the head jamb if you are installing the closer at the top of the door). Mark mounting-hole locations and drill the correct size pilot holes as directed. Attach the bracket with screws.

  • Tip: The screws provided typically only penetrate the door jamb. Substitute 2-1/2-in. long screws (same diameter and coarse thread). The bracket will be more securely anchored into the house framing and be less likely to pull loose with years of use.

2. Place the hold-open washer on the closer rod and attach the closer to the jamb bracket with the removable pin provided.

3. Attach the door bracket to the other end of the piston and swing it against the closed door. Mark the bracket mounting holes as directed. Drill pilot holes and secure the bracket to the door with screws.

4. Attach the strike to the jamb so it aligns with the handle mechanism and engages it securely. Most strikes have slotted mounting holes to allow adjustment as you tighten the screws.

5. Open the door wide and allow it to close freely. Twist the adjustment screw on the end of the closer (or with some models, a knob on the cylinder itself) until the door closes and latches without slamming.

Install New Panel Clips: If a threaded rivet for a storm or screen panel clip is loose, it will turn and you'll be unable to tighten or remove the screw. You need to install a new threaded rivet and clip adjacent to the defective one. Threaded rivets may be hard to find; hardware stores, automotive supply and repair shops, and glass shops are places to look.

1. Drill a clearance hole for a new threaded rivet (same diameter as rivet) through the inner face of the door stile. Maintain control by drilling slowly and exerting only moderate pressure. Thread a pull-stem into the rivet and press the rivet into the hole. Slide the nose of a rivet gun over the stem and squeeze the handle only until the rivet is secure. Do not break or "pop" off the stem as you would with standard rivets.

2. Unscrew the stem from the rivet and install a new sash clip with a knurled screw into the threaded insert.

Replace Worn Vinyl Seal

1. Open the door and slide or pull the U-shaped door bottom off the door.

2. Pull the vinyl seal out of its channel in the door bottom and bring it with you to purchase a replacement seal.
3. Clean the channel with a brush and slide in a replacement vinyl seal, which is available in T and Y configurations. Door bottoms with seals already attached also are available

Replace Metal-Frame Insect Screening

Why pay for rescreening services when the task is a relatively easy one that you can do yourself? You'll save money and get the job done when you need it. Choose a screen material that matches the type (aluminum or Fiberglas) and color of your existing screens. Although you may be able to buy screening by the foot, you may save money in the long run by buying a roll.

It's also not at all unusual for a beginner to accidentally tear the new screen during installation, so having a roll may save another trip to the store; and you'll have some on hand for future repairs. Just make sure the roll that you buy is wide enough for all the windows, not just the one you happen to be working on now.

Materials Needed:

  • Utility knife and new blades

  • Spline

  • Awl (or nail)

  • Screen roller

  • Insect screening

1. Remove the Screen Sash: Raise the window and remove the screen.

2. Remove Old Screening: Use the point of a utility knife, awl, or nail to pry out one end of the vinyl spline that holds the screen into the channels in the sash. Grasp the end and pull slowly to remove it, then pull out the screening. If the spline is in good condition (soft and flexible, not dry and cracked), you may reuse it. However, it is better to replace the spline since it tends to stretch as it is removed and may not fit as tightly as it should if it is reused.

  • Tip: Bring a sample of the old spline (or better, the screen frame itself) with you when you go to purchase your materials. Spline diameters vary, and sizing is critical for proper installation.

3. Position New Screening: Lay new screening over the sash so it overlaps all sides at least 1 inch. Cut screening with shears or lay it over a piece of scrap lumber and cut through it with a sharp utility knife.

  • Tip: If you are repairing more than one screen and one is larger than another is, do the large one first. Then if you accidentally cut the screen when rolling it in place, you can roll out some new material for a second try, and save the damaged piece for the smaller screen.

4. Roll in Screening: If you are using aluminum screening roll the screen into the channel on one side of the sash using the convex wheel of your screen roller/installation tool. Place the palm of your hand in the center of the screen to keep it from shifting. Roll lightly at first, and then more firmly to press in the screen in stages. Otherwise you may cut it. Do only one side at a time and then roll in the spline as shown in Step 5. If you are using Fiberglas screening, skip this step and roll the screen and spline in simultaneously.

  • Tip: Allow about 1 inch more screening around the edges than is shown in this and the next two drawings.

5. Roll in Spline: Press the spline over the screen and into the channel beginning about 1 inch in from one corner. Then use the concave side of the roller to press completely into the channel. Roll lightly at first to press the spline into the channel gradually. Rolling too hard tends to stretch the spline and increases the risk of having the roller slip off the spline and cut the new screening. If you are using Fiberglas screening, simultaneously roll the screen and spline into the channel in this step.

  • Tip: Make sure that the horizontal and vertical pattern of the screening correctly aligns with the frame.

6. Cut Corners: As you near each corner with the spline, use shears or a utility knife to make a diagonal relief cut from the outside corner of the overlapping screening toward the inside corner of the sash. This is one place where "cutting corners" is wise. It prevents the screen (especially aluminum) from bunching up in the corner as you press it in place.

  • Tip: The roller can't quite roll all the way into a corner, so use the tip of a standard screwdriver to press in the spline at the corners.

7. Complete Rolling: Repeat the process, working your way around the screen frame. Hold the opposite side of the screen somewhat taut, but not so tight that you cut the screening while rolling it in place or that you distort the frame.

  • Tip: On large screen frames (or on less expensive ones that are not very rigid), you may need to tack some scraps of 1/4-in. plywood onto your workbench to prevent the sash from being distorted as you roll in the screen. Locate a block at the inside center point of each side of the sash.

8. Cut off Excess: When the rolling is complete, use a very sharp utility knife (a new blade is advised) to cut off the excess. To avoid accidentally cutting into your complete work, angle the blade outward and move slowly and steadily. Hold the frame securely with your second hand but keep it a safe distance away from the cutting.

9. Reinstall: Reinstall the screen sash into its channel, reversing the procedure that you used when removing it.

 Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT.

Screen Door Secret

It's not much of a stretch to get a drum-tight, wrinkle-free screening when replacing the screen panel on a door. After removing the old screen, lay the door frame on a flat work surface and slip a 1x4 block under each end. Clamp down the middle of the door to put a slight bow in the frame.

Next, attach the screen to one end of the frame with staples or rubber spline. Move to the other end, pull the screen snug and flat - but not too tight - and fasten it. Then release the clamps; the door frame will pull the screen tight as it straightens. Finish by securing the screen sides to the frame.

Courtesy of American Tool

Shorten a Door

There are several occasions when it might become necessary for you to shorten an existing door. The installation of new carpeting or an area rug are perhaps the most common reasons. Adding air space under a bathroom door for more efficient operation of bathroom fans is another reason (you need about a 1-in. gap to allow replacement air to enter). You may also need to shorten an exterior entry door when installing weatherstripping on the door's bottom. Here are basic instructions for shortening a hollow-core or solid-wood door.

Materials List:

  • Tape measure

  • Wood glue

  • Straightedge and pencil

  • Sanding block

  • Retractable utility knife w/blades

  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper

  • Clamps

  • Wood finish that matches door

  • Circular saw

1. Mark the Door: If you can install and close the door, do so. Lay a 1/2-in. thick board on the floor against the door and use it to guide your pencil while you mark a line on the door. If you can't install the door, measure the distance from the head jamb to the floor (or carpeting) at the left and right side of the opening. Subtract 5/8 inch from each measurement (to include a 1/8-in. gap above the door plus a 1/2-in. gap below the door). Transfer dimensions to the door and connect these points with a straightedge.

  • Tip: If you don't have a 1/2-in. board, use any size and either add or subtract from the line drawn when penciling the final cut line.

2. Score the Veneer: To prevent the up-cutting circular saw blade from chipping the veneer, clamp a metal ruler or other straightedge to the door on your cut line and cut through the veneer using several passes with a utility knife. Use the same procedure to prevent chipping when cutting across the grain of a solid-wood door's vertical stiles.
3. Make Guided Cut: Clamp a straightedge to the door to guide a circular saw along your cut line. Make sure the saw blade remains about 1/16 inch away from the cut line on the waste side. Skip to Step 7 for solid wood doors.

  • Tip: Place two pieces of scrap lumber lengthwise under the door, so they support the door and the cutoff. Then you don't have to support the cutoff with a free hand, or worry about the damage to the unscored underside veneer that may occur if it is allowed to fall free.

4. Clean off Core: If your cut exposes the hollow portion of the door, you must reinstall the solid-wood rail from the cutoff. Start by making room for it by pushing in the ribbed cardboard or wood-strip core and scraping off any glue from the inside face of the veneer.
5. Salvage the Rail: Peel the veneer off the cutoff. Scrape and/or sand the glue residue off the rail. If the two stile sections on the ends of the rail don't just fall off, break them off.
6. Reinstall Rail: Apply wood glue to both faces of the rail and insert it into the door bottom until it is flush with the bottom edge. Do not push too far, as it may be difficult to pull out. Wipe off any excess glue and apply two or three clamps for at least an hour.
7. Sand and Seal: Use a sanding block with medium- and then fine-grit sandpaper to round over and smooth the cut edges. Seal the bottom edge of the door with a finish to match the door (varnish or primer-and-paint). If you don't, particularly with a solid wood door, the door will absorb moisture and may warp.

Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT

Sliding Screen Door Repairs

If your sliding screen door is not rolling properly, a few simple repairs will get it back on track. We've also included instruction on how to repair screening. Which type to use--fiberglass or aluminum? Fiberglass screening will not puncture easily because it stretches. For that reason, it also does not stretch tightly in the door frame. Aluminum is stronger, and does not get stretched out.

It is harder to roll into the groove without tearing it. Before You Begin: When you're ready to start, lift the screen up and tilt out the bottom. In some cases, you'll have to lift the wheels up and over the track as you pull the door out. Use a screwdriver. You can do the same to reinstall it; or try the trick shown in Step 11. If you struggle to open and close your sliding patio door, too, stand inside and lift the sliding panel up and out of the track.

1. Clean Tracks: With the screen door removed, clean the track with a soft brush or vacuum it. The grit not only makes it harder to operate the doors, it causes the roller to wear prematurely.

2. Lubricate Tracks: Spray a little silicone or Teflon spray lubricant on the tracks and rub them down with fine steel wool. If a track is bent, straighten it by tapping against it with a block of wood and a hammer.

3. Remove Roller: If a roller does not move or spin freely, try to remove it. They usually snap in a channel and are freed by prying it from below. However, there are almost as many designs as there are screen doors--some are riveted and others snap into channels or are held by screws. Don't force anything. It can be very hard to locate replacement parts. You may also be able to clean it in place using a brush, toothpick, or compressed air.

4. Clean Roller: Wash the tension spring roller in a grease-cutting detergent/water solution. Dry the parts well and spray them with silicone lubricant before reinstalling them. If you don't have any screen repairs to make, go to step 11.

5. Patch Small Hole: If you have a small hole or tear in your screening, put a dab of clear silicone caulk on it and then smooth it with a finger or plastic spoon.

6. Remove Damaged Screen: To replace damaged screen, remove the door and lay it flat on a large worktable or the floor. Find an end of the spline that holds the screen in its groove and pry it out with a pointed tool. Then pull it out by hand. If it is old or brittle, replace it with identical material. Otherwise save it for reuse.

7. Cut New Screen: Cut the new screen with scissors or a utility knife so it overlaps the groove 1 inch on all sides. Tape it to the door in a few spots on each side. Trim the screen at a 45-degree angle at one corner to prevent it from bunching up at the corner when it is rolled into the groove. Only cut one corner at this time.

8. Roll Screen: Starting at the cut corner lightly roll the screening into the groove. Use the convex side of the screen installation tool and work gently. It tears easily. If you are using fiberglass screen (not aluminum) you can skip this step and roll the screen and the spline into the groove at the same time.

9. Roll Spline: Using the concave roller to carefully roll the spline into the groove over the screen. Roll it in just enough to hold and work your way down the line. Then come back and re-roll to drive it completely down into the groove. Work carefully to avoid slitting the screen and tearing it. With those two sides nearly done, cut the next two corners and roll in the screen and the spline. Repeat procedure for the last corner.

10. Trim Excess: Run a sharp utility knife or single-edge razor blade between the spline and the metal frame to cut off excess screening. Reinstall the screen door by reversing the removal procedure or try the method shown in the next step.

11. Reinstall Door: To keep the rollers up in place until they are positioned over the tracks, lay a couple of thin pieces of cardboard or shingle tips over the tracks at the roller locations. Slip the top of the door up into the upper channel and push in the bottom. Hold the door with the wheels over the tracks and slip out the shims one at a time.

12. Adjust Roller: Most screen door rollers can be adjusted at the top and/or the bottom. The adjustment screw in this one is obvious. On other door the screws are usually accessed from the edge of the door through an access hole. Turn the screw in or back it out to raise and rower the screen door until the door frame is up off the track and the door side meets the doorjamb evenly.

Tools and Materials

  • Phillips and standard screwdrivers

  • Brush and/or vacuum

  • Silicone spray lubricant

  • Clear silicone caulk

  • Shears or scissors

  • Screen installation tool

  • Utility knife or single-edge razor

  • Blade

  • Masking tape

  • Replacement screening and spline

Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT. Illustrated by artist George Retseck

 Stylish Entry

When guests visit your house, your front door is the first thing they?ll see and, most likely, is the key element that will influence how they view the rest of your house. An attractive, welcoming entrance does more to greet friends and family than any other element of your home's exterior.

Most front doors do nothing more than serve their purpose--to let occupants and visitors in and out. Ironically, this is also an area where you can make a huge impact without breaking the bank. Take a look at the front of your home. Does your front door have any accents? Trim work? Is the paint cracking and peeling? Does your current lighting scheme work?

Many front doors lack style due to the simple fact that they have no accents, and are improperly lit creating a shadowy entry. Fortunately, you can create a splashy, beautiful entry to your home without spending a fortune.

Some options include:

Replace the door. Replace the old door with a newer model of the same size. This will spare you the cost of resizing the opening, and still give you a lot of bang for your buck. Many models are built to fit into existing word work, which will also spare you the cost of having to replace the entire unit.

Add a storm door. Add an attractive storm door to protect the entry door and keep heat inside in the winter, and bugs out in the summer. Choose a door with a movable sash to allow for more flexibility.

Install trim work. Trim the exterior of the door with finish carpentry such as columns and a crosshead pediment to extend the width of the door. Ask your carpenter about high-density urethane foam millwork, a great option to high maintenance wood.

Lighting. Outdoor lighting can go a long way to create a warm welcoming effect for your guests. Lighting installed above or at both sides of the front door are good options. Be sure to hire a qualified electrician to install your new fixtures.

The Right Door for the Job
By: Paul Bianchina

If you are fortunate enough to have a house with a basement – or if you are planning one in the future – you know that they can be a real blessing in the quest for extra living and storage space. Properly done, basements can offer a wide range of possibilities, from exercise rooms to home offices to a playroom that the kids can really call home.

One of the problems with a basement is often how to provide safe and convenient access from the outside. Exterior accesses make sense from the standpoint of convenient accessibility, but many people give up on wrestling with old wooden doors that are heavy and extremely difficult to weatherproof.

If you'd like to get a little more use out of your basement, it might be time to consider some new exterior doors. Prefabricated basement access doors and enclosures are a far cry from their site-built wooden predecessors, offering easy operation, secure locking and complete weather protection. And because they offer a wide, straight-in access to the basement, moving large furniture and storage items gets a whole lot easier.

Retrofitting Doors

Exterior basement access door assemblies consist of three basic elements – a concrete well outside the doorway that holds back the dirt, provides an enclosure for the stairs, and provides a base for the doors; sidewalls, that sit on top of the concrete well and provide a frame for the doors; and the doors themselves.

In a retrofit situation where you are replacing old doors, the first step is to examine the condition and suitability of the well itself. You need to determine if it is in good enough condition to receive the new doors, if the top is flat, smooth and structurally sound, and if the well extends above the surrounding grade sufficiently to provide adequate water protection. You also need to measure the overall width and length of the well at the top to make sure it's going to work with the new doors.

Next comes the sidewalls. Sidewalls form a right triangle when viewed from the side, and attach to the top of the well walls and the side of the house. The top slopes away from the house, and provides the points of attachment for the doors themselves. As with the well, you'll want to look carefully at the condition of these wall structures – which may be concrete, concrete block, or even wood – to see if they are solid and in good enough condition to accept the doors.

If the sidewalls are in bad shape, your best bet is to remove them completely, down to the top of the well, and replace them with new steel ones. Steel sidewalls, which are available from the same manufacturers that make the doors, offer several advantages – they're solid and secure, weather-tight, consistently angled, and designed to work with the new doors to greatly simplify your installation.

It's similar to the difference between trying to fit a new door to an old, rotted, out of square set of jambs as opposed to installing a new pre-hung unit where the door, frame, and weather-stripping are all new and designed to be compatible with one another.

The last element are the doors themselves. The new basement doors are steel, with all steel hinges and locking mechanisms, and seal against one another in the middle to prevent air and moisture intrusion. All doors feature easy-open and easy-close hardware, which is balanced to make it easy to lift the door open and to then close it without having it slam down.

Most doors have a stay-open feature that locks the door in the open position for safety, and you can also add a key lock from the outside for additional security. Of course, the doors also have release hardware that allow them to be opened from inside as well.

New Construction

If you are considering adding a basement to your new home, providing an exterior access is easy. Once the excavation is done and the basement walls are poured, you can install a prefabricated concrete well that greatly simplifies the whole process. The well is precast in the proper height, width, and length, and the entire stairwell is cast into it as well. A crane swings the unit into place, it is bolted against the house and sealed, and after backfilling is complete the new steel sidewalls and doors are installed on top.

Some lumber yards and door companies can help you with ordering basement doors, sidewalls, and precast wells, or can direct you to the right sources. One of the major manufacturers of basement doors is the  Bilco Company.

Tips for Installing Door Hinges

Replacing a door? Proper hinge installation is one key step in the process. Typically butt hinges are installed in recesses cut into the door frame (jamb) and the edge of the door (stile). For proper functioning the hinges must be precisely located and set into their mortises so the faces are flush with the surfaces of the door and jamb. While professionals may prefer to use routers and expensive hinge templates, all you really need are a few inexpensive hand tools and basic skills.

Materials List

  • Tape measure

  • Packet of wood shims

  • Pencil

  • Butt hinges with screws

  • Combination square

  • Self-centering punch or self-centering bit

  • Hammer

  • Drill/driver

  • Butt marker (gauge)

  • Screwdriver

  • Wide wood chisel

  • Matching 3-in. screws

1. Locate Hinges: Assuming that you are installing a new door in a new jamb, plan to install the hinges on the door first. Unless you are matching the location of hinges with other doors in your home, use the following standard: The top of the upper hinge should be 7 inches below the top of the door; the bottom of the lower hinge should be 11 inches above the bottom of the door; and the middle hinge should be centered between the top and bottom hinge. (If the hinge mortises are already cut in the jamb go to Step 4.)

  • Tip: Although a middle hinge is generally not necessary for lightweight, hollow-core doors, it will give added strength to a heavier, solid-wood door installation. It will also help to straighten any door that is bowed at the middle.

2. Mark Hinge Outline: Use a butt marker to score the hinge location on the door and jamb. Available for standard hinge sizes, a butt marker assures that the size of the mortise is exact and that it is located at precisely the right distance in from the face of the door and the edge of the jamb. Locate the marking tool on the door or jamb, and strike it sharply with a hammer a couple times.

Then mark the mortise depth on the side of the door (or edge of the jamb) by tracing the hinge thickness; or use a combination square to scribe your mark by setting the blade to extend a distance equal to the butt thickness. Refer to this depth mark when cutting the mortise.

3. Cut the Mortise: Use a chisel that is equal to the width of the mortise, if possible. Cut the top and bottom of the mortise first. (Hold the chisel perpendicular to the surface with the tip on the line scored by the butt marker and the beveled side facing toward the mortise. Strike firmly.) Then cut a V-channel across the mortise anywhere within the mortise. (Hold the chisel at a 45-degree angle with the bevel facing downward, making two cuts at opposite angles.)

Next make a series of cuts, spaced about 1/8-in. apart, starting at the V-channel and working toward the outside edge of the mortise. Finally, use the chisel to scrape out the chips; smooth the bottom of the mortise; and clean up the perimeter with perpendicular strokes.

  • Tip: Working with a very sharp chisel makes all the difference. A sharp tool requires lighter taps with a hammer. It allows you to make paring cuts with less effort and, therefore, with greater control. And you get a nice clean line between the hinge and the edge of the mortise.

  • Caution: Be very careful in the final stages. Use the palm of your hand, rather than a hammer, to tap the chisel when cleaning out debris. When you are cleaning up the long edge of a mortise on a door, be gentle or you might damage the relatively thin strip of material that remains between the mortise and the edge of the door.

4. Attach the Hinge Leaf: Use a self-centering drill bit accessory or a self-centering punch to create a pilot hole that assures that the screw will be centered and on mark. An improperly placed screw can shift the hinge position slightly or force the screw to tilt so its head does not sit flush. Place the hinge leaf in the mortise and position the self-centering tool in the countersink recesses of the hinge. Drill or strike with a hammer, depending on which accessory you are using. When all pilot holes are done, install the screws.

  • Tip: If the mortise is a little too deep, cut a thin piece of cardboard the same dimension as the mortise and insert it in the mortise before you install the hinge leaf.

5. Locate the Mating Hinge Leaves: With the hinge leaves installed on the door (or in jamb, as they would be if you were replacing a door in an existing frame), position the door in the opening. Insert shims under the door until there is an even 1/8th-in. gap between the top of the door and the head jamb. Then very carefully mark (transfer) the hinge locations on the jamb directly opposite their location on the door (or onto the door if the jamb hinge leaves were installed first). Cut the mortises and install the hinges as previously described.

6. Install the Door: For a heavy door or any exterior door, it is wise to install at least one 3-in. screw to secure the top hinge to the jamb. This long screw will penetrate the jamb and anchor the hinge to the framing. The weight of a heavy door can make smaller screws work loose over time, causing the door to sag. That, in turn, may adversely affect a weather-stripping seal or cause the door to rub or stick in the opening. Longer screws at every hinge will make any exterior door more secure.

  • Tip: If despite your best efforts a slight misalignment prevents mating hinge leaves from interlocking, make a note of which direction a hinge leaf would need to move so as to correct the problem. Then tap the leaf in that direction with a hammer and a block of wood. And, rather than trying to move one leaf the entire distance, split the difference by tapping the mating leaf in the opposite direction. Be careful - a couple of gentle taps usually is all you need to "persuade" the hinge.

Trim Door to a Proper Fit

What You Need

  • Brush

  • Varnish

  • Carbon Paper

1. Establish the rubbing area by closing the door on a sheet of carbon paper. An ink mark will reveal the mis-aligned portion of the door edge.

2. As you sand the mis-aligned area smooth, be sure to work the area beyond as well for a smooth surface.

3. Once the rubbing area has been made smooth, seal the door edge with several coats of varnish.

Courtesy of Dremel Tools

Window and Door Screens - Clean 'em Up

Write a number on each window or door frame and write the same number on its screen. Put any screws or bolts in a bag and write the same number on it. This makes it easy to put each clean screen back where it belongs. Take the screens out. Dust the mesh and frames with a vacuum cleaner or brush.

Washing Screens Outdoors - Our 1st Choice

Fill a large pail or washtub with hot soap or detergent suds. Attach a hose to a faucet, and turn the nozzle to give a fine spray of water. Lean the screen against a wall, railing, porch, or other handy support. Scrub both sides of the screen mesh with a stiff brush dipped into hot suds. Wash the frame all around with a sponge dipped into sudsy water. This will wash off dirt and "drip" from the metal screening.

"Tension screens" (the soft ones which have no frames and are springy enough to roll up) can be opened flat and washed the same way. Use a brush and suds. Rinse all sides of the screen with a good hosing of clean water. Let the screen drip a little, then wipe it with a dry cloth, and stand it up to dry in a breeze.

Washing Screens Indoors - If you must

The best place is the basement floor near a drain. If you have such a place, do the washing exactly like outdoors. Wear rubbers or boots over your shoes. If you must use a bathtub, washtub, or kitchen sink to wash screens. First line the tub or sink with old towels or cloths so the screens won't scratch the finish. Also pile newspapers on the floor to catch splashes or drips or even better spread a big sheet of plastic and cover it with newspapers. Scrub each screen with sudsy water. Then rinse it by squeezing clean water out of a sponge. Or pour clean rinse water from a pan. A shampoo-type spray hose is also good for the rinse off.

Special Tip:

Before you put screens back, wash out the window or door grooves where the screens slide. Wind a strip of cloth around a ruler or screwdriver which will fit into the narrow slots. First dip this into suds then into clean water. Finish up by wiping with a dry cloth. Wash window and door frames and sills before putting in clean screens. If you want to store the clean screens for the winter, put them in a place that is clean and dry. Cover them with paper sacks or clean cloths. Or use a big sheet of plastic, like an old shower curtain or tablecloth.

This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension

Window and Door Screens - Fix'em and Forget'em

Patching Holes

No matter how you decide to repair holes in your screens, the patch will show. If your wife is a fussy homeowner like mine, continue to the next section. The patch, however, can keep out insects. If the holes you want to cover are small, you can buy precut aluminum screen patches that have their side wires bent back as fish hooks to catch the screen. Using these patches make sure you are level before inserting, you do not get a second chance to adjust it.

Using extra screening to repairing holes can be done as follows: Cut a piece of screening which will cover the hole at least 1" on all sides. Unravel a long piece of screen wire or several pieces and lace it through the patch and screen to keep the patch in place.

Cut a patch large enough to cover the hole with about 1-1/2" around all sides and unravel all sides of the patch about 1/2". Bend the ends of the wire 90 degrees to the patch and push them through the screen covering the hole. Then bend over the wires projecting through on the back side to hold the patch.

Replacing Screens

Replacing a damaged section or an entire screen can be done with tools usually found around the home and by do-it-yourselfers. Several different materials are available for screening including aluminum, used today mostly on wood frames and plastic or fibreglass for plastic and metal frames, all 3 of which are nearly permanent against weather. Galvanized iron and copper screen were used in the past but these materials corrode over a period of times and should be replaced before they discolor the window frames and walls.

Screen fabric comes in many different widths so choose the width that will cover your frame with the least waste. Sketching a layout of the pieces you need on paper before buying the wrong width and before cutting will reduce waste.

  1. Remove the aluminum or plastic retainer strip from around the frame that holds the screen fabric. Be careful not to tear the plastic or break the aluminum strip. An awl, ice pick or other sharp pointed object works well to remove either type of retainer.

  2. Using the torn screening as a pattern, cut the new screening. Plastic screening is usually used today with aluminum frames. Cut the screen at least 1/2" wider than the pattern to be sure there is enough to hold when you replace the retainer strip. Cutting the screen even with the outside of the frame is a good size.

  3. Spread the screening over the frame and press the retainer strip into the groove. Temporarily fastening the screen with masking tape keeps it in place on the frame.

  4. You may need a hammer to force the retainer strip into the groove. Do not strike the metal strip directly with the hammer but use a wood block about 3" or 4" long between the hammer and the strip. If a plastic strip is used it can be forced into the groove by hand pressure on a wooden block 3 to 4 inches long.

  5. Trim off excess screening with a kitchen scissors or a knife or razor blade.

Making a Replacement Frame

Occasionally a metal screen will fall out, be blown out or otherwise damaged beyond repair. Then there are windows, especially in older houses that are odd sizes for which a screen is desired. Materials to make a replacement screen or odd-sized screen can be purchased at many building material, home centers and hardware stores. The framing material usually comes in lengths of 6 or 8 feet so measure the opening into which the frame must fit before you buy the material. Buy enough material to make all four sides. In addition buy a package of four corner braces. Then proceed as follows:

  1. Mark off a 45 degree angle near one end of the material.

  2. Mark off a distance equal to one side of the opening being sure to mark on the long side.

  3. Cut another 45 degree angle so the piece looks like the side of a picture frame.

  4. Insert a corner brace into each end of one of the pieces and attach two more sides so you have a "U" shape.

  5. Insert the remaining 2 corner braces into the last side and attach to the frame.

  6. Install the screen fabric as described in the section above.

This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension

Framing You Can Live With
By: Paul Bianchina

In the construction of any home, there are a number of openings that are framed or cut into the walls, floors and ceilings of the structure in order to accommodate such things as windows, doors, stairways and even medicine cabinets and toilet paper holders. In construction language, these holes in the framing are known as "rough openings," and the accuracy of their size and placement is crucial.

Sizing a Rough Opening for a Door

In order for a window or other component to fit into the wall and be secured, the opening into which it fits needs to be correct. Too small, and the window won't fit into it; too large, and you either won't be able to secure the window in place, or you'll have large gaps around it that will make installation of the finished trim very difficult.

How large an opening is framed depends, obviously, on what is going into it. Some openings have standard rules of thumb that apply during framing, while others are specific to a particular component.

In the case of a prehung door, the standard framing procedure is to make the rough opening two inches wider and two inches higher than the size of the door. For example, if you were framing for a 36-inch door, the rough opening would be 38 inches wide. Most residential doors are six feet eight inches high – 80 inches – so the standard rough opening height is 82 inches.

The same standard rough opening sizes would apply to bifold doors that have a wood frame around the inside of the opening. A five-foot wide (60-inch) set of bifold doors with a wood frame would require an opening that was five-foot two-inches in width (62 inches), and the height would again be 82 inches. For bifold doors that will be going into a drywall-wrapped opening, the rough opening width should be equal to the net width of the doors – in this example, five foot even – and the rough opening width is the net door height plus approximately three-quarters of an inch, which is typically 80 ¾ inches.

For a set of bypass doors, which are doors that slide past one another horizontally on an overhead track, the openings are a little different, and again depend on whether the doors have a wood frame. For bypass doors with a wood frame, the rough opening is the net width of the doors plus one inch – 61 inches for a five-foot pair of doors – and the height would again be 82 inches.

If the bypass doors will be going into a drywall-wrapped opening, make the rough opening one inch less than the width of the doors – in this case, 59 inches – which allows for the thickness of the drywall and creates an overlap for the doors where they meet in the center. The height may vary somewhat with the size of the track, but is typically 80 ¾ inches to 81 ¾ inches high.

Another common door is the pocket door, which recesses into a frame inside the wall. When creating a rough opening for a pocket door, you want to make it twice the width of the door, plus 2 inches. So, for a two-foot six-inch (30-inch) pocket door and frame, the rough opening should be five-foot two-inches (62 inches). To allow for the track and the overhead portion of the pocket frame, the rough opening should be 84 inches high instead of the 82 used with other types of prehung doors.

Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Solutions

Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

     1. Read Phil’s five plain-English,
mold advice books to master mold inspection, testing, removal, remediation, and prevention for your house, condo, apartment, office,  or workplace.

     2. Buy do-it-yourself, affordable mold test kits, mold lab analysis, video inspection scope, mold cleaner, and mold killer, for the  successful toxic and household mold inspection, mold testing, mold species identification and quantification, mold cleaning, mold removal, and mold remediation to find mold, kill mold, clean mold, and remove mold from your residence or commercial building.

     3. Get FREE mold advice, mold help, and/or answers to your mold questions, by emailing mold expert Phillip Fry at You can also email pictures of your mold problems in jpeg file format as email attachments.

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Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Solutions

Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

     1. Read Phil’s five plain-English,
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     3. Get FREE mold advice, mold help, and/or answers to your mold questions, by emailing mold expert Phillip Fry at . You can also email pictures of your mold problems in jpeg file format as email attachments.

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