Ancient Shed…New Door!

Project Type: Removing shed door and replacing with a simple door slab unit; installing new, simple hardware

Project Cost: $1,662

A pretty cut and dry project for a client in the Budleigh neighborhood, who’s given us a lot of business over the years: Installing a very basic door unit on a very old shed. (It’s easily 100 years old, and was a smokehouse, for curing hams, back when this neighborhood was mostly farmland.)

The shed itself is in surprisingly good condition for being as old as it is. The bones are holding up well, but the old door? Well, that was another story. It was pretty beat up, rotted through in some places, wouldn’t close properly, and generally needed replacing. The madam of the house uses this as her gardening/potting shed (and she is quite the gardener), so we really wanted to improve her experience and accessibility.

After securing the deposit, we ordered a very basic slab door unit (@ $500) and went to work when it was delivered a few weeks later. But, as with many simple projects, there were a few issues: The door unit was about 2” too tall for the door opening. This was anticipated, as the shed opening is far from a modern, standard size and would’ve required a custom door order…and that would’ve been prohibitively expensive for this particular application. So before ordering the door unit we’d asked the clients if we could remove the header of the door opening, taking out—what was left of—the failing cinderblocks overhead, to make the new unit fit. They were totally fine with it, so we removed the head jamb by taking out the ancient lintel/angle iron supporting the crumbling masonry, then removing what was left of that old masonry.

With that done, the new unit fit in the space just fine, but still with some extra space on the top and sides. This was also anticipated—we knew we’d have to build a new frame for the door, as there was no wood to screw the new door unit into. So we constructed a door frame out of treated 2x4s and 2x6s, with a threshold and a beefy, sturdy new header. We trimmed it all out with rot and insect-proof PVC (excellent for outdoor applications), then screwed the new door unit into the newly constructed frame. We hit it with about six 4” screws on each side and almost as many on the top and bottom, even putting in a few 5” TapCons (masonry screws) per side for good measure.

So, the new door unit is all in and looks and performs great…but another issue: Since we jacked the structure up a few inches by putting in the new door, some of the masonry mortar on the side of the shed had separated. OK…this was NOT anticipated. But, it was no big deal, because we prepare for this type of thing, and just put a tube of ”mortar caulk” in the caulk gun and started filling in the gaps. (GREAT stuff. We always pack a tube or two in our gang box. It’s mainly cosmetic—not a structural fix—but good to close up minor gaps in masonry when the old mortar starts to fail. And we’re not masons—at all—so this mortar caulk is good for us to apply in small situations like this.)

With the mortar gaps filled and the door in and working properly, we used a simple door handle and a hasp lock from ACE to secure it all up. (Nothing stored in there but old, rusting lawn implements and potting soil; no need for fancy, expensive door hardware.)

Finally—since the trades aren’t allowed to dump construction refuse at municipal sites—we called up our favorite demo/dump-hauling vendor to schedule a pick-up of the old door and assorted construction scraps. (This is almost always a necessity, for just about ANY project, big or small. If we have to do a lot of lumber cutting—with resulting scraps—or replace an old door with a new, a demo-hauler is usually needed, to haul it all away. Fees are usually in the $100-$300 range, depending on size of load, and we include this fee into the overall quote and security deposit.)

Now our good friends and clients have a brand new, solid, working door…on the ancient shed. The lady of the house reports that it’s so much easier to use the shed now, and is way more secure (and safer) than the previous situation.

We’re glad for their continued, valued business, and it was a pleasure providing them with a good solution for their needs. We’ve done several jobs for them since.