Repairing Wood Entry Doors
Wooden insulated entry doors cost a small fortune…
No, make that a large fortune. If you have bought one or replaced such a door in recent memory you know that they can cost many thousands of dollars for a quality entryway door. I am embarassed to admit that this actually occurred in my home as I have a reputation of being fastidious about preventative maintenance around the house.
Living in a log home requires that we be more observant and pay more attention to anything that can affect wood. Visible rot, discoloration, water stains, etc. are things we can’t put off. This should serve as a great example to all…when you’re doing your annual log home inspections…move the furniture.
The particular door discussed in this article is located in one of our bedrooms and it is virtually never used. In fact, a large La-Z-Boy recliner has been in front of this door for years. Consequently, a water leak that developed many years ago went unnoticed until recently. My wife mentioned that she observed the wood was discoloring but didn’t think much about it as she attributed it to normal sun damage. Because the external side of the door is clad in metal, I never noticed a problem when caulking or cleaning the area.
A few weeks ago I happened to notice the door. Alarm bells went off and acute frustration set in when I poked the wood and realized that it was being attacked by a water leak and was deteriorating slowly. I would guess that this had been going on for years as we never noticed wet carpeting or a moldy smell. I knew there were only two options, make a structural repair or replace the door. I opted for the repair as it would save me thousands of dollars and because the door was seldom used, I wasn’t quite as concerned about it standing up to the use that a main entry door would receive.
The first task was to remove all the rotten wood to determine the amount of damage and to see if the door could actually be repaired. It was amazing to see the extent of the damage done in what was a relatively short time. This looked like something you would see in an old neglected barn.
In removing the rotten wood it became clear how moisture was entering and why it was never noticed from the outside. The offending breach was on the bottom of the door where rain and snow could enter and over time this moisture ate away at the raw wood.
Using a variety of hand tools and power tools I was able to remove the decayed wood until solid, unaffected wood was uncovered. I made squared cuts with a RotoZip saw and cleaned up the joints with a chisel.
The next step was to create a patch that would fit snugly in the door frame cavity I had created.
Numerous trips to my shop were required before I could achieve the desired dimensions. The final fitting was done using ultra-sharp chisels removing hairline slivers of wood to get a snug fit.
The most challenging obstacle was figuring out how to mount this patch to the door frame. I chose an industrial outdoor adhesive and pocket hole screws to join the wood.
This photo shows the joint detail (prior to inserting pocket screws). After the screw holes are patched, sanded and the door stained, this patch will blend in nicely.
This particular entry door is comprised of two panels. One is the actual door and the other is a large window, which is the same size of the door. This leak occured on the window portion and not the door so it does not receive the stress that a door gets in opening and closing frequently. I am not certain how such a repair would hold up on a door being opened and closed every day.
So is this a long-term repair? I honestly don’t know. Only time will tell if I am forced to replace this door in the future or if my patch job will last indefinately. Stay tuned – will advise.