More salvaged door re-use

Salvaged doors are a hot item these days, and for good reason, they’re solid wood, tell the story of time – sometimes carved right into them – and were occasionally handmade on site for the home. We’ve written about them before here. We still have some favorites in our basement, waiting for the perfect inspiration...

Salvaged Doors and Ladder Action

We think old doors are fabulous – in fact in our remodel, 15 of the 20 interior doors we installed were salvaged, most of them from the original house.  Here’s how we used ours, from the easiest install to the more difficult:

Mahogany door is a nod to our home's past, contrasted with the new maple cabinets and modern appliances

Mahogany pantry door is a nod to our home’s past, an intentional contrast with the new maple cabinets and modern appliances

Pocket Door  Reusing a door as a new pocket door is easy, providing you can open your wall double the width of the new door (to accommodate your pocket door frame and hardware). Just a few basics to remember, you’ll need to use flush door pulls so patching old hardware holes may be in order and check your door’s height as it may have been undercut in its past and therefore may be too short (mine is a tad short).

Love using salvaged doors for closet sliders

Love using salvaged doors for closet sliders

Bi-Pass Closet Doors – we’ll never buy new closet doors again! The architect in me is so happy every time I use these doors – even though my husband looks at me sideways. Salvaged doors add a satisfying heft and upscale design to rooms, are green, and can be found for free or inexpensively (granted sometimes you need to look) – what’s not to love? Hardware is readily available and allows you to easily adjust the hanging angle of the door, important with salvaged materials. Do pay attention to the way the doors overlap, so you can verify that stiles will show well.

Salvaged Doors for Closet

Double Doors  A bit trickier as they may need to be planed to hang correctly and not bind. We hire carpenters to hang our swinging doors, it’s more involved than we want to take on (hinges, leveling, knobs, catches). The easiest way to reuse swinging doors is to find them pre-hung – then everything lines up!

A little bondo does wonders for worn doors of the 1920's

A little bondo does wonders for worn doors of the 1920’s

Door Hung In Jamb  These doors can be very easy to install if you have found them pre-hung – if not then you may find you will need to move the hinges and doorknob. That’s what bondo is for. We patch large holes for the old, mortised hardware by stuffing the opening with newspaper and applying layers of bondo over it and sanding (do apply primer over the finished bondo work or it will have an odd sheen after painting). Ragged door bottoms can be repaired with bondo but it’s not the best, better to find a door that’s not too worn on the end.

Here are a few more misc tips regarding salvaged doors:

  1. When looking for doors you may want to make a sketch to help you find doors that will fit your situation best. Second Use Building Materials has a great guide to using salvaged doors.
  2. Many old doors are no longer the expected height due to being cut to accommodate carpet or other new floor finishes. Be sure to measure the height.
  3. Always measure doors from the top down when locating doorknobs, hinges etc.
  4. Be aware of how easy it is to mistake your 2′ – 4″ door for a 24″ door…
  5. If you will need a jamb with your door it’s best to try to purchase them as a set, then everything will align (think doorknobs and hinges). This is where you will need to know the “swing” of your door, hence the above mentioned drawing.
  6. And lastly, don’t throw those old doors away! One person’s junk is another’s treasured find – Craig’s List, Ebay, second-hand building materials outlets or just the local street corner can all be avenues to find new owners for your doors. We’re already planning our next post on the creative reuse of doors – stay tuned!

We are thrilled to be a guest post in Northwest Home Magazine, the online edition, it’s modern, it’s green, it’s worth checking out!

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9 thoughts on “More salvaged door re-use

  1. Thanks for the inspiring post! We’re currently building a new home and plan to use a bunch of old doors. Two refinished, 28 to go….anyway, since some of ours didn’t come prehung and carpentry skills limited, I found that Frank Door & Lumber (Shoreline) charges about $30 in paint grade materials, $50 in labor to build a frame for old doors for interior use. The only condition is that the door has to be inspected by them and approved.

    • Sounds like a really cool project – that’s a lot of doors! It makes me wonder if you are re-purposing other materials? We would love to hear about them :) Frank Door and Lumber sounds like a great resource ( I didn’t know they did this), I would think that once a door is in the jamb correctly that installing it into the rough framing and making sure it’s square should be a do-able task, and if you make a mistake (oops) I imagine you could re-install it (especially paint grade). The only issue I’ve run into is when I have multiple doors close together, then the bottoms really should line up as they are obvious when they don’t (line up). Good for you and your creative re-use – if you still have energy when it’s done, let us know how it went!

      • I had heard vaguely that Franks could do that (hang an existing door) and when I called up to ask about it they confirmed it but in an odd way so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with the two salvaged doors that I need to have re-hung. Good to hear that someone else had success with it!

        • It was a nice service for us, though we had a misunderstanding about the length of the jambs – so I would advise that you know exactly what you want all of your dimensions to be, including height, and it might be a good idea to bring in your door hardware (doorknob set) as well.

  2. The finishing touches in your home are so well done. I really like the trims built up for cornices over the doors. It looks so much nicer than just plain old miter’d trim. Congratulations on being your article on the Northwest Magazine site, that’s fab! You’re no doubt inspiring many to go green, BRAVO

    • Thanks Charlie! We always appreciate your comments, they’re so nice. I could not agree with you more about their being art. I wonder how many doors we have stored in our 3 basements just because we couldn’t resist their charm…and I love seeing some of the past in the old woodwork – it’s hard as you’re remodeling to let it be a part of the new look vs. always wanting to “fix” it! ~Monica

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