Blog: R.E. Tales
Hey, not every place is pretty.
Modern metal-clad doors normally have a wooden frame along the inside. This is what screws fasten into that in turn hold hinges, sweeps, and various things around the door knob. My kitchen door apparently does not have this and relies upon screws fastening directly into the metal skin alone, working like sheet metal screws do. So when the metal “skin” got too worn to hold them, one cannot just go with longer screws like you would if there was wood to penetrate, because what is behind the metal inside skin is styrofoam. Warm but totally lacking in structural ability. So while my door opens and closes just fine (for now) and looks good enough, the screws that hold the plate around the latch do not hold and they work out. When they get far enough out, they bang into the striker and the door won’t close until they are pushed in again. It’s days are clearly numbered.
Additionally, I was also annoyed that there is some rust on the door. Not easily seen, it should not be there at all. Doors are sold with a primer on them (white or gray). Most often, folks mistake the primer for exterior paint and do not paint them, thereby allowing them to rust, over time. How soon that happens depends upon their exposure to weather. However, we painted our door immediately (red) and it has been repainted (green) since. With the porch around it, rain has never hits the door, nor has snow reached it. Yet, there is some rust. I have long realized that a good old wooden door (very expensive now), if cared for, will outlast metal. But fiberglass should outlast both of them. So, that’s what I bought. Even though my heart said “wood”, my wallet vetoed it for the modern solution.
I was surprised to discover my new fiberglass door is far heavier than the others I have handled in the past, probably double that of a wood door. An Amish guy helped me put the new door on my roof rack. I worried a bit about getting it off, but figured I could handle it since gravity was on my side. I backed up close to the house so I wouldn’t have to move it far. Concerned about scratching my car’s roof when it left the roof rack, I put a towel on the roof there, which protected the car well and allowed the door to slide easily. Too easily, it turned out. As it slid downhill off the back, it began to also slide to the passenger side. Where I wasn’t. I could not hold it back. My alternative would be to let it slide uncontrolled off the back and before it fell to the side. That’s a further fall and I couldn't risk it. Going in both directions at once, I could only control the back direction, not the side. It fell 3-4’ without any hindrance from me.
And snapped the frame into. Aghast, I saw that the frame was plastic, not the wood I’d expected. Note: not fiberglas, but plastic. Fiberglas has fibers that keep it from breaking easily into. Like wood does. Now, with the frame broken completely into, it no longer held the door securely in one place, so it kept flopping as I tried to drag it all into the home. Flopping too much would only break it further, so every foot I gained, I had to put it back together again, then drag things another foot to repeat the process. To move 18’ from the cars back into the home took that many minutes. Pissed at my misfortune and the difficulties it engendered, I took to opportunity to exercise the edges of may vocabulary.
Two people could have done this fairly easily. But if I had two people, there should have been no need for the towel; you'd just lift it off, turn it sideways, and walk inside. 2 minutes of grunting. The silver lining is that the new door itself is perfectly fine, completely unscathed. It was fiberglas (and glass).
Inside, I assessed the damage… And went looking for clamps. I must have 50 of them of various sizes and descriptions. But none of the rigid ones were long enough to clamp a 7’+ door frame, and my strap clamps fell way too short. So off I went to find something that would work. For years, if I need a tool, I just buy one, figuring that if I needed it once, I'd need it again... eventually. So now I have a very nice strap clamp that will handle a 12’ door if I ever manage to break one that big.
I used smaller clamps as needed for other directions, exhausted my supply of epoxy (there was just enough, no more, no less - so at least one thing went right in this episode), and put screws in strategic spots. Then, as a finale, I installed two sections of steel strapping around the corner near the break. It will be as good as new and to a casual observer, it will look new too. We’ll install it tomorrow morning. Once in place, there will be no stress upon any of the (plastic) frame and all we will have left to do is, come spring, give it a coat of paint so it matches the rest of our doors. Be sure to examine it when you come in.
Some blogs are designed to amuse; others can be an immense help. All are interesting.
After 40 years, I've learned a lot, & acquired unforgettable experiences. Follow these long enough and you'll eventually get the whole book. (Names probably changed, for obvious reasons.)