Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Home Improvement: Interior Door Replacement



Our home was built in the early 1970's, and, when we bought it, it had ugly mismatched interior doors and doorknobs.  Of the 13 interior doors in the house, 10 were the original, flat-panel interior doors.  Luckily, at some point in the past, a previous owner had the good sense to at least paint the wood color white, so they were slightly less hideous (although you could still clearly see the texture of the wood grain through the paint).  The remaining 3 doors were a newer, 6-panel style, which were fine except that they didn't match the rest of the doors.  The doorknobs weren't any better; they were a variety of styles and colors (all bronze or gold).  

Old doors + brass hardware + green carpet + baby blue paint...this house was a dream
Although we hated the interior doors, it wasn't a top priority for our renovation budget; as a temporary, inexpensive fix, we removed all of the doorknobs and spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze (we used this Rustoleum paint) so that at least they would match and be a more "current" color for door hardware.  This worked great -- for the 3 years that we lived with the old doors, the spray paint didn't chip or wear off at all.

The same room after replacing the carpet, painting the walls, and spray painting the doorknobs oil-rubbed bronze
3 years after moving into our home, after completing higher priority projects like gutting the kitchen and renovating the master bath, we finally decided to replace the interior doors.  Although this project wasn't one that we're likely to get our money back on upon resale, the dated appearance of the interior doors drove us crazy on a daily basis, so we opted to make the update for cosmetic purposes.  

I did a bunch of Googling to try to determine the best way to go about this project, as well as get a cost estimate, and didn't come up with much...so I hope this information helps someone else who might be considering replacing the interior doors in their home!

Ordering the Doors and Solid vs. Hollow-Core

We selected a Masonite Cheyenne 2-panel plank door; we priced them out at several different retailers and wholesalers and found that they were least expensive to order directly from a local plywood company.  We ordered 5 solid-core doors and 8 hollow-core doors; the solid-core doors are more soundproof but cost nearly three times as much as the hollow-core doors, so we opted to install solid-core doors only on the bedroom doors and the hallway door, to cut down on noise transmission while the kids are asleep.


Source
Door Installation

We wanted to replace the doors only (rather than the doors and the frames) to save on costs, since slab doors are less expensive than pre-hung doors.  Because our house is over 40 years old and has settled over the years due to the north Texas soil, many of the door frames were no longer completely square.  This meant that the door replacement wasn't a DIY job - we needed a professional who knew how to make the necessary adjustments to retrofit new doors into the existing door frames.  I contacted several handymen, but none of them wanted to take on a project this large or didn't know how to hang slab doors.  We got quotes from a couple of contractors we'd worked with in the past, but they were pricey because they wanted to install pre-hung doors.  Finally, we found someone local who specializes in door installation and was the right man for the job.

We ordered the slab doors unmortised and with no doorknob holes bored.  Our door installer mortised the hinges to match the placement of the hinges in the existing door frames and bored holes for the doorknobs to match the placement of the existing strike plates.  For the 5 solid-core doors, he also reinforced the door frame to accommodate the heavier weight of the solid-core doors (as the previous doors had all been hollow-core).  He did a great job; it took him 3.5 days to install the doors and reinforce the frames where necessary; in the end, he installed and adjusted all 13 doors to fit perfectly in the existing door frames.

Painting the Doors

Because the doors have a smooth finish (no faux wood grain like some doors have), we weren't brave enough to paint them ourselves, since we knew brush strokes would show every mistake.  The doors came pre-primed from the manufacturer; we hired a painter to paint the doors and the door frames (so that the color of the white paint would match).  We bought 3 gallons of Sherwin Williams ProClassic oil-based paint in Pure White.  The painter filled all the nail holes (where the door installer had to remove the trim to reinforce the door frames), caulked, and painted all 13 doors and frames over the course of 3 days.  The painted doors look great - we hadn't realized how yellowed the white paint on the old doors had become until we saw how bright and clean they looked with fresh paint.

Replacing the Doorknobs

We finished off the project by purchasing all new lever-style door handles in an oil-rubbed bronze finish.  We bought these at a local seconds/surplus store for much less than comparable styles at Home Depot or Lowes.

Project Cost

Interested in replacing your interior doors?  Here's the approximate cost:

8 hollow-core doors: varied between $29.95 and $35.24 each based on door width (bedroom doors are slightly wider than hallway, closet, and bathroom doors)
5 solid-core doors: $88.10 each
3 gallons oil-based paint: $46.89 each
13 lever-style door handles: $19.99 each
13 doors installation labor: base price $80 per door (extra for doors which had to be cut to size or frames reinforced)
3 days paint labor: $249/day

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