Bruce W. Maki,
Last summer I helped some friends remodel the garage behind their
1898 Victorian home. We have not yet been able to determine the age
of the garage, I would estimate it was built in the 1920's or
1930's. Even though it was built as a "two car" garage,
this building was small, only 18 feet wide and 20 feet long. Two
wagon garage was more like it.
One of the biggest problems with the garage was the entry door.
It was junk. Plus it was too narrow, only about 30 inches wide.
After making some measurements of their car, we realized that a
typical in-swinging door would hit the car bumper, making it darned
near impossible to get out of the garage with a vehicle inside. So
we decided that an out-swinging door would be the best
One unusual feature of this garage is that it was built with 2x6
studs at 24" on center. I later discovered that the siding was
redwood. The original builders put some money into this garage, even
if it was tiny.
|The old door was pathetic. It appeared to be an
interior door. One of the solid-wood panels was missing and
covered over with a scrap of Masonite.
Ironically, the previous owner was a local builder. All he
had done to this garage was reshingle the roof, update some
wiring, and add some more concrete to the floor slab.
The missing paint to the right of the door was a result of
my experimentation with paint removal techniques.
I suspect that the previous owner didn't believe that the garage
could be saved, as it was leaning badly and just looked generally
nasty. But I knew better.
||The view from the inside was about as bad as the
||The original door had a wide casing.
I removed the casing with a flat pry bar.
Once the casing was removed I blew the door off the hinges.
This could be an outlet for pent-up aggression for some guys... you
know... kicking in a door like they do on cop shows on TV.
But I know that can be injurious to the body, especially when the
door bounces back at you. So I took the easy way and just unscrewed
the hinges. I tried removing the hinge pins (the easiest way) but
they wouldn't come out.
|With the casing removed from the outside, I used
my reciprocating saw (with a fine-toothed metal-cutting blade)
to snip the nails that held the door jamb to the framing. I
just ran the saw from the bottom to the top.
I forced a pry bar between the jamb and the framing to
prevent the blade from binding.
||This photo is kinda hard to visualize.
Here I'm removing the old door jamb by tilting it outwards.
Since I didn't have any helpers at the time, this was awkward
to photograph. (The homeowners were away on vacation.)
|View from the inside:
The original framing had just a 2x6 laying flat for a
header. The ends of the header were just nailed into the
studs, rather than resting on the ends of trimmer studs.
Since this door was on the gable end of the garage, there wasn't
any significant weight bearing on the wall over the door (just the
weight of the wall). But I still prefer something resembling a
proper header, just in case there is some change to the garage in
A Wider Opening:
||Since the new door was wider and taller than the
original, I removed the old header by cutting the nails with a
Warning: If this was a
load-bearing wall, the weight of the roof structure would need to be
supported by some temporary bracing, such as seen in this
article about cutting a large rough opening.
|On the right-hand side of the door (when viewed
from the outside) I used the reciprocating saw to snip the
nails that held the siding to the double studs.
Note that on most buildings you will not find the exterior
siding simply nailed directly to the studs, rather there
typically is a layer of sheathing (solid wood on older
buildings, fiber-board, plywood or OSB on newer buildings)
between the finished siding and the framing.
||I cut the nails between the top plate and the
studs, then I made a similar cut at the bottom of the studs.
|On one side of the doorway I
installed new 2x6 studs, and then a triple-2x6 header.
In the header there are two pieces of ½" plywood
spacers between the 2x6's to create the 5½" thickness.
Note the overhanging siding. This is a result of making the
new rough opening about 6 inches wider than the old opening.
||I supported the other end of the header on a
steel angle clip.
I sort of cheated here. I don't normally support the end of
a header this way. Only because this is a gable-end wall (and
therefore not supporting much of the weight of the roof) would
this be even remotely acceptable.
I would not recommend copying this method, unless first
getting the approval of a building inspector.
The usual approach to supporting a header would involve cutting
the end off of the left-hand stud of those doubled-up studs. On
this project making that cut would be rather time consuming, but
certainly not impossible.
|I nailed the heck out of
this connection. All the red arrows point to fasteners that
are supporting the end of this header.
There are a couple of 3" Deck Mate deck screws in the
end of the header (which helped hold the wood in place as I
worked on it) as well as several 16d galvanized Ardox (spiral
or twisted) framing nails.
The nails in the metal framing brackets are all 8d joist
hanger nails. The larger angled bracket is what makes this
framing method even remotely acceptable.
If I had access to the outside face of the studs I would
have used another of these wrap-around angle brackets.
I count at least 12 nails that are in "shear loading". I recall
that 8d nails have around 1,000 pounds of shear strength, so this
method ought to be able to withstand about 12,000 pounds of load.
The entire garage probably doesn't weigh that much.
One potentially serious drawback of using steel angle brackets
here is that they could get in the way of some nails used to attach
the door jamb or door casing. Since this is a garage, there will be
no casing on the inside.
||Once the rough opening was completed, I put a
long wood-cutting blade in the reciprocating saw and cut off
the overhanging siding.
|The new rough opening.
I nailed the freshly-cut ends of the siding to the new
studs, using 2" hot-dipped galvanized ring-shank siding
||On the hinge side of the opening I placed three
pairs of shims.
For the top pair, I just arbitrarily chose a thickness of
about ½". For the middle shims (shown here) I adjusted
the thickness to create a plumb line with the first shims.
|And I also nailed on a third pair of shims at
the bottom. Since the longest level I own is only 4 feet long,
I had to do this in two stages.
I place the shims so they will be close to the door hinges.
Preparations for installing a door include checking the sill with
a short level. If the sill isn't level then some shims would need to
be placed under the metal door sill later on.
While I checked the striker side of the framing with the level, I
don't really care if it's not plumb.
If the hinge side isn't plumb the door could close by itself, or
it could swing open by itself if left slightly ajar. If the hinge
side is installed perfectly plumb (and there are two directions
to check for plumb, only one of which I can control right now) then
the door won't swing by itself, unless the wind moves it.
||At this point I placed the new door in the rough
opening. Of course I couldn't easily photograph myself doing
that, so I had to hold the door in place with a 2x4 so I could
step back and snap a picture.
Note how there are two thin boards spanning across the
door. These hold the jambs together during installation. I did
remove those boards earlier so I could unscrew the door hinges
and pre-paint the door in my shop. Then I re-installed them
with small deck screws.
|Once the door was plumb, level and square I
drove one long galvanized finishing nail through the door
casing (on the hinge side at the top) to hold the door in
||I walked around to the inside and drove some
3" deck screws through the hinge side jamb, into the
framing. I installed one screw at each of the three shim
Some carpenters use 16d finish nails here, but I prefer
deck screws if the finished appearance isn't critical. With
screws I can make adjustments later.
With the door placed in the opening I checked all around
the perimeter with an accurate level.
||I had to place a couple of shims under the metal
|Besides checking for being plumb, it's important
to make sure the striker jamb isn't bowed, or else the gap
between the door and jamb will be uneven.
For a final check I measured the diagonals with a tape measure to
ensure that the door jamb was square.
||I nailed the casing with 16d galvanized finish
nails. I used about 8 nails on each side, plus a couple across
To prevent splitting of the wood, I pre-drilled holes for
the nails near the ends, such as this one.
|The door after the casing was nailed. It's still
not completely fastened, however.
||I drove a couple of short deck screws through
the holes provided in the sill. Some doors don't provide these
|On the striker side I positioned four sets of
shims and drove a long deck screw through the jamb.
The four shim/fastening locations are: near the top, near
the bottom, just above the door knob and just below the knob.
Also, the door came with a couple of long screws to be driven
into the top and middle hinge plates. Those hinges were missing one
screw each, so the extra-long screws could be driven into the
framing after the door was installed. I've seen some builders ignore
those screws, only to have the door sag after a few months.
Once all the fasteners were in, I installed the lockset and
||A picture of the door taken a few weeks later,
after I had used a special power paint scraper to un-paint the
siding. Note the new window and window trim
|During the repainting work I applied a bead of
caulk between the door casing and the siding.
||The new door helped make the garage look and
function like a new building.
What an improvement.
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What's New Project
- Cordless Drill/Driver
- Basic Carpentry Tools
- Reciprocating Saw
- 2-foot Level
- 4-foot Level
- Entry Door, 36" x
- 2x6 Studs
- 3" Deck Mate Screws
- 16d Galvanized Spiral
- 8d Galvanized Joist Hanger