Darn Doors

File this under “who would have thought…”

It’s past time to replace my back door. The existing one is very, very old wood that has warped with age, and the glass leaks cold air and wind like a sieve. Plus, the existing storm/screen door doesn’t quite fit the opening. When I first moved in, there was a sizable – probably 4-5 inches – gap at the bottom through which Collette escaped one day. After that, I rehung the door so there were two inch gaps at the top and bottom. I never leave just the storm door open for any amount of time, since I don’t want to let bugs or critters in, but if I’m bringing in several trips – groceries, namely – and I don’t bother to close the actual door, I’ll see Collette’s face peeking out from the gap.

I wanted to replace the doors last summer, but before I knew it, it was the height of mosquito season. I didn’t want to be doorless for an entire day with bugs streaming into the house. A couple weeks ago, I priced things out and called my dad, since he’s offered to use his know-how to install the new doors while teaching me how to do it.

Saturday, he came over to take detailed measurements. My initial measurements had indicated that the door wasn’t a standard size, but I obviously wanted verification before I actually bought one – especially if it ended up being a special order. Dad confirmed my fears – the door I need is a 30″ by 80″ door to fit my 32.25″ by 82″ opening. We talked about enlarging the opening, but the framing around the opening is in really good shape, and we shouldn’t disturb it if we don’t really have to. Plus, with aluminum siding, we don’t want to create an opening that would then entail needing replacement siding. Ugh. Occam – keep it simple.

So we went off to Menard’s, Mom and sister in tow. After finding the doors I had previously picked out, we looked at the specs. Yep, the size I needed would have to be special ordered. The Menard’s guy spent some time with his online catalog, adjusting options (kickplate? mail slot? what kind of hinges?) to come up with a quote. The door will likely run about $230 for a steel door with a half-light window with grills – essentially replacing the style already there. The corresponding storm/screen – with the retracting screen – will likely be more, closer to $270.

The narrow size really limits my option. It appears – at Menard’s, at least, I’m limited to steel. While steel is definitely better than the ancient wood I currently have, it is prone to dings and dents, which worries me. This door is pretty high traffic, and though I may start off being careful, six months from now when I’m struggling in out of the cold with eight bags of groceries, I may end up doing some damage. It appears fiberglass is a bit more durable – and expensive – but I don’t even have that option. I’m going to further investigate my options at Lowe’s and Home Depot to see what else I can do.

It just goes to show how home design has evolved. The back hallway part of my house isn’t original – it was added on at some point – but I’m sure 30″ was pretty standard for a door width then. Now, the standards seem to be 32″ or 36″. It’s like subway seats – as Americans have gotten larger, so have doors and seats – though airline seats have only shrunk.

I have one even smaller door in the house. The door to my downstairs half bath – which I think used to be a pantry – is a paltry 24″ inches wide. It’s pretty claustrophobic in there.


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