My house is transformed. To know where it started and to see it today is unbelievable. That is why it may sound strange when I state hanging a salvage door to close off the basement, laying tile on the landing, and refreshing the steps has made the biggest change to date. It is going to be an extreme pleasure to use the back door as my entrance once the garage is built.
I found the door at Building Value, my favorite stop for reclaimed material. It was just the door, no knob or jamb. I paid someone to build the jamb out of extra jambs I had. He had to reverse the swing and rip the width of the jamb to just 3″. He finished it much faster than I needed, so the back entrance became a priority because I didn’t want to add to my pile of projects already in the basement.
Before I could hang the door I needed to put the tile down on the landing. Timing was perfect as I had just finished the master shower and knocking this out now meant I could retire my wet saw for a long time. I like laying tile, but my two bathrooms wore me out. I had a few pieces left from the tub area in the master bath and I thought it would be great in that area, but I didn’t have enough to cover the entire surface. I most certainly was not going to order more, so I got the idea to border the sides and use the tile in the center. I found the perfect match at the Tile Shop, Workshop Desert Wood Look Porcelain 4 x 47. I only needed four pieces.
Before I could lay the tile I had to level out the surface. No pics to show, but I used Mapei Novoplan Easy Plus self-leveling underlayment from Floor and Decor. Mixed and poured in the low areas on top of the cement board I had installed. Amazing how well it worked. I also decided that a pretty landing would pale next to the worn out steps, so I decided to cover them with RetroTreads I found at Lowe’s. I did the prep work for those as I knew it would generate a lot of saw dust. I had to cut the overhang off each step. I knew the tile would create a need for a reducer going do into the basement. I bought one before I knew the width I needed to cover and it was way too narrow, so I bought a Stairparts 11.5×48 Stair Tread, which I was able to rip down to the right width. It was the perfect height, butting up perfectly to the tile.
With a close enough level surface I started with the border tile. I wanted it to meet on the corners with 45 degree angles and 3 of the 4 angles would be impacted by the door or steps. This tile project would have been 100% perfection if I had not forgotten to account for the new riser I was putting on the steps. The most complex corner ended up being off by 1/2″, so I ended with a much thicker grout line in that corner.
I used my triangle square to make show the box was aligned correctly and then I did a dry run with the center tile. If all went well I would have two pieces to spare. Key was finding the center as it would allow me to get two spaces from one tile once I got to the perimeter pieces. I didn’t miss a cut until the last piece of tile, so I ended the project with one piece to spare.
Next day was grouting, followed by cutting the treads to the right width. With the dry fit of the steps down, I stained them with the Early American stain I had to match the kitchen door and added two coats of Bona Floor sealing.
I’ve never hung a door by myself. The entrance to the basement wasn’t close to being square. I knew the door was not as wide as the original, but it was the right height and style. I’ve been looking for that door (and office) for two years. I needed to close up the opening, so I got a 2×4 and ran it down the hinge side of door. I knew it was import to make that side level. To do so I had to shim out the top while the bottom was flush to the wall.
I also needed to cut off some of the top of the entrance. I used my 4′ level to strike a line. To make it level I cut almost 2″ from the left side and only an 1″ from right. No pics (down fall of working alone) I did a plunge cut with my circular saw and my job max tool to get the corners the circular saw could not reach. I went old school and used 10d, 3″ finishing nails to set the door. I drilled a hole for the door knob to catch, but need to find a strike plate to finish it off. I amazed myself by how well that went in. The door was in really good shape. Dusty, like my other trim and doors, so I went back to my Howard’s Restor-A-Finish stand by. One day when I’m bored because EVERYTHING else is finished I may paint the other side to match the walls. For now the pale yellow will be just fine.
With the door hung, tonight I turned my sights on the steps, which was a piece of cake to install. I kept the top step riser original as the nose of the top step feeds into the kitchen flooring. I put new risers on the bottom two steps (bottom step I actually installed before the tile) and used denatured alcohol to clean up the stair strings. I was out of the correct tint of Restor-A-Finish for the strings, so I rubbed them with the Early American stain. I put down Liquid Nail first and then used the 10d nails for added measure. Just beautiful.
Hanging a door is not easy. You did good. I’ve wanted to try doing time myself but I’m slightly intimidated by the idea of wet-sawing. But this is encouraging. I might try it.
Go for it. If you’re comfortable with a miter or table saw a wet saw is no different, just has water.