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Community and Q&A

Entry door replacement, millwork and design

Todd Stout | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

I’m replacing my entry door in a double wall assembly, with windows on the same elevation.
The existing door is a factory steel door set up for 2 x 4 wall, installed in the outer 2 x 6 wall assembly and blueboard and plaster as the extension jamb. the door swings to 90 degrees. As this was installed without a pan and proper splines, a fair amount of rot repair will likely come into play. I have a shop and will be making my new door, jamb ,threshold etc. I’m considering a wide jamb that pushes the entry door back into the wall assembly and using a heavy custom storm /screen combo on the exterior. This would be the typical way most doors are set up, but with a single 2 x 6 wall assembly.
Is there anything that I may run into doing so? Any reason why it wasn’t done this way when originally built?
Aside from the obvious sealing for air leaks and installing for weather conditions any thoughts, suggestions or referencing articles that would pertain to this would be appreciated.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Here is a link to an article that describes one way of installing outie doors in a double-stud wall:
    "Windows and Doors in Double-Stud Walls."

    A detail is reproduced below.

    The method involves framing an oversized rough opening, and then building a frame-within-a frame (that is, a "rough opening within a rough opening") using 2x4 framing. This approach allows the door to swing open wider than 90 degrees.

    I doubt whether you want to do this, however, because it involves reframing your wall.


  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    The trickiest part of your plan is choosing the threshold material, and making sure that it is relatively leak-free. I've used oak for thresholds in the past, but oak isn't as rot-resistant a species as teak or red cedar. Cedar is a little soft for a threshold.

    In any case, your threshold will be wide, and it needs a slope to the exterior. So think these details through before you proceed.

  3. Expert Member
    Peter Engle | | #3

    Todd did mention that he has a shop, and will be fabricating the parts himself. This may allow for use of less common lumber as well. You can often find salvaged chestnut flooring, and chestnut is nearly as hard as oak, but also relatively rot resistant. In the Mid Atlantic, we can also sometimes find black locust, which is very hard and rot resistant. Terrible wood to work with for most applications, but fine for a paint-grade threshold.

    You also need to consider the weather exposure. If the door is protected by an overhang, you may not need to pay as close attention to the waterproofing of the sill. You should incorporate a sill pan flashing with back and end dams regardless. Your storm door will protect the opening from water, but you mentioned that it may also have a screen. Of course rain will blow through when the screen is installed.

    Finally, you should consider sun exposure. The insulated and closed space between the doors will heat up in the sun like a solar collector. A dark colored door can get hot enough to melt plastic trim and can even cause burns if you lean against it to open it. As would be expected, the risk is highest with south and west exposures, and roof coverings may help. Light colors will also help.

    This is yet another argument in favor of deep porches. They provide sun, rain and snow protection to the door system, and they make a mighty fine place to have drinks on summer evenings.

  4. Todd Stout | | #4

    Martin, Peter,
    Thank you for your replies.
    I am a cabinetmaker and have a fully tooled shop. We purchased this house 2 years ago and I will be renovating/restoring it as time allows. This door has leaked for a long time and I'm fully aware of why it leaked, no proper pan or splines at the casing. It is north facing and has a 14 in. soffit above. UV is not an issue. I've built and installed a number of doors over the years. On an island with NE winter storms that I've spent the better part of my 30 year career contemplating and addressing wind driven snow and rain.
    I've used spanish cedar for both painted and natural doors. 20 years ago it was a by-cut when S.A.
    mahogany was being fiercely harvested. Now it is being commonly used by manufacturers for exterior millwork. I have used it for thresholds and it does fine but wears in heavily trafficked areas. There are commercially produced African mahogany thresholds that I use but they are made for 2 x 6 walls. I'll probably use mahogany, but mill my own that is wide enough. I will use the same for the jamb, due to the amount of exposure and the needed stability and fastener retention. I find eastern red cedar to be too soft for thresholds and most frame and panel entry doors. I use silicone gaskets from Conservation Resource Technologies for sweeps and jamb gaskets. I've found better success sealing doors and windows with their products than with other foam gaskets or brush seals.
    This is unique and different from anything I've done due to the double wall assembly and wood foundation. The sub floor is rotted around the door and I'm assuming the band joist will need attention
    beneath the door. As i have read the air barrier, a heavy mil poly/plastic sheet between the 2 wall assemblies, should be carefully protected. This may be the greatest challenge, I will assume the sub-floor beneath the wall assembly is rotten, it is 25 year old OSB, that has been wicking water. I will need to pick up the load of both walls to do repairs. I am making the assumption that the interior 2x4 wall assembly is supported by the interior band joist that I can see from the basement and the exterior 2x6 wall is supported by the
    exterior band joist that may need replacing in a section beneath the door.
    I've cut access holes in the plaster to observe the air barrier and to see how this was done but I can not tell how the plastic is sealed where the framing meets the sub-floor, If it wraps under the bottom plate or is sealed or stapled to the wall face between the sandwich.
    I'm trying to think ahead, have mill work ready to install and the proper materials for repairs, before taking anything apart.
    With much work to be done well beyond the entry door this is just the beginning of the numerous projects that I'll be tackling and appreciate that this site has a unique knowledge base of this type of home and I look forward to tapping into it in my future endeavors.

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