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Interior Door Tips – Super Secret Ones

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kitchen pantry door close up

Interior Door Tips: This fancy Victorian lockset is on a solid poplar door. You'll not scuff your knuckles here because it's set back 2 and 3/4 inches from the jamb.

Interior Door Tips - It's All Little Things

What are the Top Door Tips?

These are the top interior door tips of all time:

  • use 2 and 3/4-inch backset
  • solid doors are affordable
  • drive a long screw through the top hinge into the rough stud wall
  • paint the top and bottom of the door two coats

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What's involved in building a new home?

The process of building a new home involves hundreds of decisions. If you really peek under the covers, you might be expected to provide answers to thousands of questions. Architects and builders can often overwhelm a homeowner with questions if they are not careful. In many instances, the builder or the architect decides not to ask but simply act. Believe it or not, one of the trouble areas can be the seemingly innocent category of interior doors.

What is the Biggest Interior Door Mistake?

The biggest interior door mistake is a 2 and3/8-inch backset. This is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the large hole drilled for a tubular lockset.

Have you ever noticed how your knuckles sometimes rub against the door jamb when rotating a doorknob? But strangely enough, this does not happen on other doors at a neighbor's house or your office building. The trouble can be traced to the backset distance of the hols that were drilled to make room for the doorknob assembly. Backset is the distance of the centerline of the doorknob from the edge of the door.

What is a Lockset Backset?

A lockset backset is the distance from the edge of a door to the center of the large hole drilled for a common tubular lockset.

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What are Common Backset Distances?

There are two common backset distances: 2 and 3/8 inches and 2 and 3/4 inches. The difference between the two measurements is less than half an inch, but it makes a big difference to your hands.

The larger backset distance, 2 and 3/4 inches, is commonly used on exterior doors.

But for some reason, the smaller backset distance was chosen as the default distance for interior doors. The good news is you can specify the larger two and three quarter inch backset for both interior and exterior doors. All you have to do is coordinate your interior lockset hardware so that it is ordered with the longer latch to accommodate the longer backset distance. Many lockset manufacturers make a door latch part that is universal so it will fit doors that are drilled with the either the short or longer backset.

What is the best soundproof door?

The best soundproof door is a solid one. Solid doors are harder to vibrate. Hollow doors act like a drum a rock band drummer beats. The sound waves on one side of the door cause the thin veneer door skins to vibrate. This movement reproduces the noise on the other side of the door.

You can get fantastic solid interior and exterior doors from opens in a new windowBrycon Wood Products. I bought all my interior doors from them.

Noise can be a problem to solve after you move into a new home. Hollow core interior doors tend to transmit noise very easily. Consider solid-core interior doors or doors that are advertised to reduce sound transmission.

How Can You Soundproof a Door?

You can soundproof a door by using a solid door and then installing weatherstripping around the door. Sound travels through air and it's easy for sound to travel around a typical interior door.

You can also install a superb metal prehung exterior door as an interior door. These doors come with perfect weatherstripping.

What is the ideal clearance between the door bottom and the finished floor?

The ideal clearance, or height, of a door above finished flooring is 3/8 inch and certainly no more than 1/2 inch.

The height of interior doors above finished floors can also be an issue. Some builders and finish carpenters may not communicate well. The net result is doors that have large gaps between them and the finish flooring materials or not enough gap. In my opinion, the ideal clearance between the bottom of a door and the finished floor is between three-eighths or one-half inch.

Carpenters who set doors before the finish flooring is installed often do not cut off the ends of the door jambs to adjust for the proper height. They may also set the uncut door jambs on shims so they don't have to come back and cut off the bottoms of the doors. Hoping the clearance distance is correct is a gamble. Open lines of communication between the carpenters, builders and flooring contractors can solve this problem in a hurry.

Do the doors need to be painted?

The tops and bottoms of doors need to be painted to minimize or eliminate warping.

The painters also have to be part of the interior door team. If interior doors are wood, it is absolutely necessary that the tops and bottoms of the doors be painted. Some wood doors come from the factory with a primer, but this is not enough protection in my opinion. Instruct your painters to make sure two coats of paint or urethane are applied to the tops and bottoms of all interior wood doors. If this wood is left exposed, humid air can enter the wood core of the doors and cause them to warp and twist over time.

Match the door style with the overall style of the house

The aesthetic appearance of interior doors is hard to change once they have been installed. Try to match the interior style of the doors with the overall style of the home. For example, if you happen to be building a Victorian-style home, you can readily purchase doors that match that time period. Two common door styles were the horizontal five raised-panel door or the vertical four raised-panel door. I happen to have the vertical four-panel door in my Queen Anne Victorian style home. Installing a flat slab door or the traditional colonial style six-panel door in my home would cause any experienced architect or interior designer to shudder.

Should Exterior Doors Be Set Up High?

Yes, exterior doors should be set so the bottom of the door threshold is flush with the top of the finished flooring. This allows plenty of height for a throw rug indoors that will not move when the door is opened and closed.

While on the subject of doors with your builder, be sure he doesn't make a mistake with your exterior doors. Frequently rough carpenters set these doors three-quarters of an inch too low. Exterior doors must be able to pass over interior throw rugs. If you visit your home as it is being built and discover the threshold of the exterior doors is sitting directly on the subfloor of the home, you will have problems.

By the time the finish floor is installed up against the threshold of the door, there is usually very little space for a throw rug. A scrap piece of lumber placed on the subfloor often allows the top of finished flooring to fit snugly under the threshold of the door. This allows sufficient room for throw rugs in almost all cases.

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