It's time for basement doors. Yes, you've framed your doors but that was months ago. Maybe years ago. Hopefully not, but I know it might have been, no judgment here. Seriously though, hurry up.
The drywall is finally up, the electrical is done, the plumbing is in, it's time to buy doors and install them.
Don't skip out on me! There's a special money-saving tip at the bottom of this post.
5 Things to Consider Before
Buying Basement Doors or else...
1. Buy Solid Core Doors.
If you buy the cheap hollow core doors, I hope you have some tissues ready to soak up the tears (of sadness) that will be flowing from my face when I find out. You've been warned.
Here's a link to Home Depot's door buying page. Notice they have hollow core, solid core and solid "wood" doors. Solid wood are great but they are really expensive. I think the solid core is a nice compromise.
2. Buy Pre-hung Basement Doors
This means they already have hinges attached to the frame. They already have the latch thingy and there's a hole pre-drilled in the right spot for the door handle. To install it you just have to shim it and then screw the door frame into your framed opening. (harder than it sounds actually)
This is as opposed to buying just the "slab" which is the door with no hinges, frame, door handle hole or latch.
3. Ordering Your Basement Doors
If you buy hollow core doors you can buy them on site. For solid core doors you may have to order them. You may want to order them anyway because they are big and heavy and a pain in the ass to transport. I ordered mine at a Home Depot and had them delivered to my house. Best $75 bucks I ever spent.
There's a special guy at Home Depot who knows how to help you order doors. If you sit down with someone who can't even find the door book just politely excuse yourself and come back when the "real" guy is working. It's not worth the hassle of getting your door order wrong.
4. Buying a Slab
If you have an existing door to your basement (like I did) you probably want to replace it. You'll want it to match the other doors and you'll want it to be solid core. You do want solid core... right? Ok, good. That's what I thought. In this case, the frame is already installed so you only need to buy a door slab.
Installing the slab is actually harder than installing a pre-hung door. You'll need this special template thingy to help get the handle hole in the right spot.
This is now the perfect excuse to buy a hand-held router. You should buy a router to help carve out the hinge area, it's waaaay easier than buying and learning how to use a chisel and hammer. Plus it's only about $85 bucks.
Learning how to prep a slab door to be hung was a solid long weekend process (like I said, I'm an amateur with 3 kids). But, I think it was well worth the time. I can not buy almost any door. Trim it reset the hinges and door handle holes and use it in my house. Pretty cool!
5. Door Styles
Doesn't really matter too much. I'm not a fashionista or anything but I'm partial the 6 panel style. I think six panel doors are sophisticated but without that bad "I'm better than you" after-taste.
I ordered slatted doors for the furnace room and the storage room. The furnace room had no other venting so that was an easy way to fulfill that code requirement. The storage room I just wanted to make sure it got some ventilation so everything in it didn't end up smelling like cat pee (since we have the cat litter in there) Too late. (pic of slatted door in my basement at the top of this post)
3 Questions and Money Saving Tip
Q: Can you trim a door if it doesn't quite fit?
A: Yes. On most doors you can trim up to an inch or so. Only trim the non-handle side! You'll need a table saw and a lot of room. You can do it yourself if you've got long monkey arms like me. Don't forget to repaint or seal the exposed wood once you're done or it will absorb too much moisture.
Q: Do I Buy Handles and Hinges for all the doors?
A: You have to buy handles for all doors, you don't order them with the door. Don't forget to buy ones with locks for bathroom or your secret beer drinking room.
Hinges are included if you buy pre-hung basement doors. Be sure to specify which hinge finish your want, to match your handle choice. If you buy a slab, you buy the hinges yourself, they sometimes come in a kit with the door handle.
Q: Can you install a door by yourself?
A: Yes. The first one was a real pain the butt. Took me hours to get it right. After that I could knock them out in about a half hour each.
The Money Saving Tip -
Home Depot has a door sale every once in a while. I saved some big money by asking when their sale started, it happened to be a week later - so I just waited to place my order until then. Saved about $250 off of a $900 order.
Do you want your basement to feel awesome? Luxurious? Like Bob Villa himself installed it? Make sure you get your doors set perfectly. They should close snuggily (yes, that's a word) against the frame. The latching of the handle should feel and sound solid. Don't short-cut it.
Then you'll find yourself at other people's houses just standing in their hallway opening a closing the door. They will think that you are crazy, but you'll know the truth. You are a bad ass!
Cheers - Jason
Linktastic Links :
- If you only buy 1 book on framing, here it is.
- Are you ready to buy trim, check out my trim tips.
- No rush, but when your ready. My basement book and videos.