The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Doors Page 1 of 3

Merry Christmas and A New Back Entry

I cannot believe that I am saying this, but Merry Christmas, everyone! There is so much I need to update you on since September. First of all, both Daz and Xopa were adopted!


Daz and Xopa lived together in our house for just a couple weeks, before they went to their respective homes. I am glad that they got to know each other before heading to their new lives. They were so stinkin cute together.


Then we brought home our current foster, Yuki (aka Yoyo). Yoyo is a very, very, very shy dog, much more closed off then any foster dog we’ve ever had. During the first a few weeks, she was too nervous to even come out of her crate. So we had to leash her and walk her 6-7 times a day.

WhatsApp Image 2023-12-24 at 14.21.53_74b396aa

But Yoyo has a brave soul. She is getting more confident and brave slowly. Now, Yoyo comes out of her room often, to hang out on the sofa with Charlie and Roxie or go outside to play.


As you could imagine, with Yoyo keeping us on our toes, we could not make much progress on the home projects. But Slav did manage to complete some electrical work, and we finally installed a new back door:


The back door project has been a long time coming. Shortly after we moved into this house in 2017, we replaced the storm door. To provide a way for our dogs to go outside, we decided to install a doggy door too.


At that time, we did not replace the backdoor (see the picture below). It was in a really rough shape. But considering we were still renovating the interior, we anticipated a lot more wear and tear at the back entrance. So the plan was to wait until most of the major renovations are done before upgrading the back door.


When I say the door was in a rough shape, it was really bad. Years of the old paint has yellowed, and started peeling off in places.







The door used to have blinds on it. But it was damaged and only the old hardware stayed.


During the kitchen renovation, we pried off all the door trims at the back entrance, left both back door and the garage-to-kitchen door bare:




After finishing the kitchen last May, we did not have time to tackle the back entrance, so these two doors remained trimless for the entire 2022-2023 winter. Without proper trim and weather stripping, the doors let in lots of cold drafts. So before this winter hit, we decided that adding trims and weather protection on the back entrance had to be done.


However, it was not an easy decision what kind of backdoor we should get. The picture above illustrates the problem we had at the back entrance – the two exterior doors both open to the same small landing. We used the garage door often and also kept the back wooden door open all the time for the dogs, so the back door almost always stayed in the middle of the hallway like this. Although the original plan for adding the storm door is to boost up security and insulation for the back entrance, but in reality, the wooden back door did not provide any insulation or security, but stay as an permanent obstacle instead.

Slav and I discussed a few days what type of door(s) we want at the back entrance, and eventually agreed on just one exterior door for the back entrance, and install the doggy door on it. In this way, we eliminated the third door, and a new exterior back door will provide a lot better insulation value than the old storm door, even with a doggy door on it. After some research, we picked up this metal one in white that could stand the elements, and Slav took the old door down:


It is always cool to peek inside the layers of walls when we do renovations. The 6-mil plastic was used as house wrap in the 60s; you can see them a lot around the doorways and windows, but only on the upper half.


The blue wire shown below was for the doorbell. We eliminated the doorbell at the backdoor so this wire was tucked back into the framing.


It is interesting how the bottom of the door frame is missing – I wonder if this was intentional for water run off? We anticipate that this is the spot where spiders and other critters came in.



You can also see the brown board lining all the framing. I suspect this was the insulation board for the brick veneer to attach. Our house, built in 1964, is not insulated. We have added insulations to the exterior walls as we renovated each room.


The header:


Slav scraped off old glues and fillers, and used the Great stuff to seal all the remaining cracks:


We had to trim the floor tiles to install the new threshold. Slav used an angle grinder to cut the tiles in a straight line, then chipped away the broken tiles and metal edge.



From the side you can see where the water damage occurs. This spot is right below the doggy door. With the new door threshold, the moisture will not get in so easily and the subfloors will be better protected.


We are not new to the game of installing pre-hung doors. Slav installed the new door frame, the threshold, and the actual door within an hour:


We also got a new double-flap doggy door for the back entry. Slav pre-cut the opening before installing the door:


This new doggy door is slightly taller than our old one, and the double flap mechanism is supposed to prevent cold air from coming in. In the picture below, we only installed one flap to let our dogs get used to this new door, before adding the second layer of flap from the inside.


This is the new door threshold! Isn’t it neat? I was very excited to see it. It is weird sometimes as a homeowner what you start to appreciate.


One nice aspect of the pre-hung doors is that they always come with everything, including the exterior trims:


The gratification was instant and very satisfying:


We were able to finish everything before dark, and Slav even had time to add the lock. We enjoyed using the keyless entry for the front door so much that we got one for the back door as well.


This was how the door looked from the inside! The pre-hung doors do not come with interior trims. But otherwise everything was in place by the end of the work day.


The new weather stripping was water tight and effectively prevented draft.


Slav added a metal trim inside the threshold to cover the cut tile edge. It looked like it was always there. I love his attention to detail.


The only thing left for us at this point was the interior trim. The next weekend, Slav spent a day to trim out the two doors using the same interior door trims we have been using for the first floor:





The space between the two doors are extremely narrow, and the width between the door frame and the walls are not consistent. Slav did a good job filling it with trims he cut longitudinally:



He also did a good job at the corners and around the existing stairs and baseboard:



After all was done, Slav caulked and I filled all nail holes with wood filler.


Then painted everything white!





We successfully wrapped this project up in early November. Since then, we have been using this new back door for over a month. It still opens inward, but without the second door it worked pretty well for our family. We could block the doggy door from the inside with its cover panel if the weather is really windy. But 99% of the time, we can leave it open and we do not feel any draft next to the door.


It feels so good to cross another project off the list in 2023. On the home renovation front, 2023 has not been a productive year at all. But we have made big strides at our respective work and successfully adopted out four foster dogs! There is always next year, we tell ourselves. Stay warm and Happy holidays, everyone!

The Guest Room Gets a Door

Our 2023 to-do list includes lots of small cosmetic updates. Installing a door for the guest room was the No. 1 on our list. This guest room sits at the northeast corner of the main floor. It used to be our bedroom, before we created a master suite in the basement.


After moving our bedroom downstairs, we converted this room to a home office for me. It also functions as a guest bedroom with the help of a hidden murphy bed.



We took down the bedroom door during this renovation, then taped and mudded the old doorway to give it a passthrough-like appearance. The plan was to install the future bedroom door onto the openings between the hallway and the living room. So when guests stay over, they could access the bathroom without opening their door to the living room.

The bedroom door before:


The bedroom doorway after the office renovation:


But before we got to installing the bedroom door, we worked on the main floor bathroom and the nearby kitchen. Now all the spaces around this small hallway have finished, it is finally time to close off the guest suite.


The width of the opening between the living room and the hallway space is only 36″, so we decided to install a 32″ wide prehung door for this opening. Prehung doors come with door jambs hinges, making the installation very straightforward. As of the door choices, we decided to get a pre-primed 5-panel door that matches the modern look of the nearby bathroom pocket door. After bringing it home, I painted it the same white color to match all the trims on the first level


Below is a picture of the ceiling at this opening. You can see how the two walls overlap a few inches, which is perfect to fit the door jambs. The ceiling smoke/CO2 detector had to be relocated.


Framing and installation:

To frame the doorway, we need to know what the framing behind the walls look like. Slav marked where the door jambs should go, then cut off the baseboards and drywall to expose the framing.



Then Slav cut the drywall off the other side of the opening. We have worked with this section of the wall before – The wall on the opposite side of the kitchen used to be a door to the second bedroom on the main floor. Shortly after moving in, we converted the bedroom to an office for Slav and closed this doorway in the process.

The hallway, 2017


2018, before the office renovation:


2018, After Slav’s office renovation:


Slav removed the baseboards and drywall at this corner where the door jamb should go. It felt funny to see the framing we have put in five year ago.


The door jamb for a prehung door is only 33″ 9/16, so we need to narrow the opening a bit. We installed a 2″ x 4″ on each side to support the door jamb.



With the correct opening size, Slav installed the door jambs.


Then he attached the door itself. Once again, the guest “room” became a room!


Despite the opening on top of the door, we could already feel a sense of privacy in the guest bedroom. Interestingly, we found ourselves closing the new door while using bathroom too, even though the bathroom has its own door.


Here is how the doorway looked like from the living room. We chose a left-handed door so we can keep the door open easily.



We installed the mirror again on the wall facing the bathroom door. so our guests can use it to get ready before heading out to the common space.


Closing the doorway with drywall:

To completely enclose the doorway, we put drywall over the opening above the door. Slav added some 2″ x 4″ above the door header to give the drywall panel some support , then attached drywall which we saved from the kitchen renovation:



Then he used wood trims to cover the door jamb.


And installed hardware and a door stopper:


We managed to get everything installed just in time for a friend’s visit. I think he and his two dogs enjoyed the new private “suite”. 🙂



During the last a couple weeks, Slav mud and taped the new drywall, and I painted the drywall the same color as rest of the main floor.


You might notice some yellow patches on the door frame – these are wood fillers I patched the nail hole with. I have not painted the trims yet. Because there will be more trim work ahead of us!

Future finishing work: door trims and baseboard

During the finishing work, we noticed that we now have three different trim style around this small hallway – the simple flush trim around the new door, the most decorative trim around the office door way, and the old trim around the linen closet door:




The flush trim next to the closet trim does not bother me much. But the difference between the office doorway trim and the new door trim is too obvious to let go. We will add the same profile of trims around the new door so the two doorway looks symmetrical. Then we will caulk and paint everything all together. For now, let us celebrate the completed 95% done guest suite doorway!



Main Floor Bath: Pocket Door Installation


Happy Spring, everyone! I hope you are enjoying bluer skies and warmer temperature than we do. As you can tell from the pictures, we had quite a few storms in the past weeks.


Stuck inside we made good progress in the main floor bath. After upgrading the master bath exhaust fan, Slav finalized all the electrical connections and fine toned the rough plumbing. It is important to make absolutely sure that everything are set to the correct height and depth before closing the wall! One of the things Slav did was to raise the toilet drain a bit higher to accommodate the height of the new subfloor, cement board and tiles. Can you imagine a toilet here seeing the bidet power outlet, bidet waterline, and toilet flange together in one picture?


Now we were (finally) ready for the subfloor!


Subfloor installation

To install the subfloor, Slav first added supporting structures around the parameter of the room:




The 2″ x 4″ strips were sistered onto the nearby floor joist with liquid nails and screws. They will be supporting the edge of the new subfloor, and bearing some weight of the tiled wall.


After double and triple check to make sure everything between the two stories were set correctly and secured properly, Slav installed the new subfloor with liquid nails and screws. It felt so nice to have something solid to walk on again! We have been balancing ourselves on floor joists like acrobats for a couple months… 🙂


Shower niche framing

One small detail we would like to add to the shower area is a shower niche. Slav modified the framing and installed a tile-ready shower niche casing, centered on the end wall of the shower. It will get tiled over, along with all the surrounding walls:


Demo the old door

The very last task we needed to complete before closing all the walls, was to install the pocket door. Pocket door is not a necessity, but due to the small size of this bath, we felt that it would improve the traffic flow and was worth the upgrade.


As you can see from the picture above, the framing was heavy on this wall. There used to be an enclosure for a ventilation pipe we since removed, and a linen closet is located on the other side of the wall.


The header of the door would also needed to be raised due to the height of the pocket door.


Slav carefully cut away all the framing that would be in the parameter of the pocket door framing. He left all other framing in place, and managed not to damage the drywall on the closet side.





Also removed was the starting piece of the wooden floor. This piece on the very edge was full of nail holes from the old carpet and in pretty bad shape. Slav replaced it with a brand new piece of the same flooring, left from last time when we patched the floor in Slav’s office.


Pocket door framing

For the pocket door installation, we picked up a standard pocket door framing kit:




Everything needed for framing the pocket door except the door slab itself were included in the kit. This universal kit is designed to work with doors that are 24 inches to 36 inches in width. There are marks already engraved into the framing lumber to indicate where to cut for different door sizes.


To frame in the pocket door, Slav first built the rough framing:


Onto which the header of the pocket door framing kit was installed and the split studs was secured:



This is what the split studs look like! The actual door slab will be inserted in between and nest inside whenever the door is open.


Our doorway only permits a 24″ door. We splurged for a frosted glass door which comes pre-primed. While Slav was framing the doorway, I painted it with my go-to door and trim paint – Behr‘s ultra pure white:


Installing pocket door was actually pretty easy. I do not know why I was so intimidated by it! Slav installed the door slab into the track all by himself. And I had to say, it operates like butter!


So smooth.


Encouraged by the pocket door installation Slav caught a second wind and installed the drywall before calling it a day. All the sudden, the bathroom looked like a room again!


Here is it, the bathroom, ready for tiles:


With brand-new frosted window and door, new subfloor and shower pan, new plumbing and electrical!


The next step, tiling!

Starting next week, we will be installing and waterproofing the walls, and starting the tile work! It has been a rough a couple months just finalizing the utilities and dealing with additional plumbing issues. But finally, we could move onto tasks that will bring much more substantial changes into the space. So stay tuned, friends! May the fourth be with us!

1. Demolition – removing all the fixtures and wall/floor materials;
2. Assessing the water damage and mold control;
3. Installing new bath window and insulating the exterior wall;
4. Removing the ceiling drywall from the attic, wiring for new recessed lights from the attic;
5. Upgrading wall electrical, including adding outlets and wiring new switches;
6. Installing a new exhaust fan;
7. Installing recessed lights and drywall the bathroom ceiling;
8. Upgrading the sewage pipe for toilet and shower;
9. Purchasing a new toilet, a new bidet, a sink/vanity, and sink and shower fixtures; Upgrading/installing water lines to all the fixture;
10. Upgrade master bath (basement) exhaust fan from above;
11. Installing new subflooring;
12. Pocket door framing and installation;
13. Drywalling around the pocket door to close off the entry wall;
14. Installing water-resistant wall on rest of the room and waterproofing;
15. Tiling and installing a new window stool;
16. Sealing the floor tiles and grout;
17. Finishing/priming/painting entry wall drywall and ceiling;
18. Installing and painting pocket door trims;
19. Installing new glass shower door;
20. Installing toilet/bidet, vanity/sink, shower trim, and vanity mirror/lighting!

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