Hanging doors……

It’s not just the floors that aren’t level or straight in my barn. None of the walls are either – which created its own set of challenges when it came to hanging doors and fixing skirting.

I am fortunate that most of the barn is a sort of open plan layout. Most of the main rooms lead through openings and archways in the original stone walls, so no need for any doors.

And since there’s not doors at all upstairs in the master bedroom suite, it meant I only had 7 doors to hang in the main part of the house. More than enough, believe me.

Not only are none of my walls straight, but not a single one of them is standard door size. Unfortunately with doors, you can’t just trim to size as much as you want, and there are ‘maximum recommended adjustments’.  Which meant:

  1. My choice of door was partly determined by finding one with the largest possible adjustment allowance
  2. I had to spend ages working out for each individual door whether said allowance gave me enough leeway on a standard sized door, or whether I had to buy a non-standard size.
  3. if buying a non-standard size and trimming the door to the maximum allowance still wouldn’t fit, how could I adjust the size of the door linings in situ

Buying a door really shouldn’t be that difficult…..

I ended up with a separate design plan for every door, that looked something like this:

  • Door 1: Standard door, trim 6mm, reduce height of door opening 6cm
  • Door 2: Standard door, trim 4mm
  • Door 3: Standard door, trim max 8mm each side and plane 3mm off door lining
  • Door 4: Standard door, reduce width of door opening 2cm
  • Door 5: Standard door
  • Door 6: Standard door, trim 3mm, reduce height of door opening 1cm
  • Door 7: Buy a bigger door

And once again, with my rosy-eyed view of housebuilding, I’d assumed I’d be able to get 3 or 4 doors hung in a weekend. I, mean, apart from a bit of planing, how hard can hanging a door be? Couple of weekends to finish them all – jobs a good’un.

When will I ever learn?

Doors, hinges, handles and locks duly arrived. And at that point I discovered that not only are none of my walls straight, none of my door openings a standard size, but actually none of the door openings are square either.

Fortunately I do own an electric plane (a birthday present, because what every girl needs on her birthday wish list is an electric plane), so at least I wasn’t having to plane it all by hand. But given the erratic sizes and shapes of my door opening, the planing was a work of precision engineering – otherwise known as trial, error, guesswork and quite a lot of cursing.

And if planing the doors weren’t bad enough, planing the door linings was worse. The plane can’t reach into the corner of the door opening. Which meant doing the job by hand with a hammer and chisel. Not a job for the fainthearted.

When each  door/opening had finally been planed, chiselled and bullied to fit, next job was oiling. I’d bought oak doors. They’d been delivered unfinished. So three coats of Danish oil were required before they could be fitted. By comparison with the trauma of sizing the doors, not a difficult job, but a tough old workout for the arms and shoulders.

All oiled and looking good, final job before hanging was handles and hinges. Again by comparison to the planing, not hard. But since nothing should ever be truly straight forward for my barn, and as the final insult to my door hanging saga, I don’t know whether it was a design flaw, or whether I’d ordered the wrong size latches but the screws to fix the handle and lock plates on the door were too long. Only one in three of them went in properly – the others were blocked by the internal mechanism of the lock. Which meant getting an angle grinder out to cut down and re-sharpen half a dozen tiny screws for each door. Patience is a virtue……..or so I’ve been led to believe!

After all that, finally ready to be fitted. Ideally, door hanging is easiest as a two-man job – one man to lift and hold the door in place while the other marks out where the hinges have to go. As a one-girl job, it involved a crow-bar and some blocks of wood for leverage, some left over spacers (from fitting the wood floor) to balance the door on, a few more broken nails and quite a bit of swearing.

Yeah, of course I can get 4 doors hung in a weekend, no problem ……….. In fact it took about two months to do all seven of them.

Still, now they’re in place (and yes they do open, close and lock properly!) they’re looking pretty good if I do say so myself!

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