Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Entry Door Saga

Since moving into the house we live in now, I have been bugged by the garage entry door. It had no door knob, but just a lock. If the door were unlocked, the key stayed in the lock. On the bottom 1/4 of the door the veneer was peeling, and there were general scuff marks everywhere. When I took it off about a month ago, I saw it was beyond repair.
I ordered from Lowe's a similar door, and when I went to pick it up, it came to the will call desk with some of the veneer pulling away from the slab on one of the narrow edges. I took the door home when they knocked $25 off the price. It was a smooth slab, with no hand holds, a heavy thing to load on my truck. The first thing I did when I got it home was to glue and clamp the split in the veneer, and then to prime and paint it. The closer I looked, the worse it looked.
As I expected, underneath the veneer, it consisted of 1 1/2" fiberboard piped with 1 by 2 pine. The veneer, though, was something I did not expect. It was not a layer of veneer glued to the fiber board, but a layer of Masonite onto which the thinnest veneer I had ever seen was glued. Paper thin, a film of wood if that's possible. That means that any bump on the surface will poke through the veneer, and disturb the Masonite, turning it to fuzz. To patch it, both the veneer and the Masonite needs to be removed and then a patch of wood glued on, and then filled and sanded.
Almost every time I moved it, there would be a separation of the veneer from the slab underneath. Just walking it on its corners across the floor would cause it to splinter on the bottom, making me take time to do more gluing and clamping.
My neighbor came over on a Sunday to help me hang it. He also thought the veneer was inherently unstable. And even with 2 of us, the door's weight made working with it difficult. There would be slips and bumps that would lead to spits, nicks, and contusions.
Later, when I drilled through the door for the lock set, I found another problem. The fiber board separated. I used a hole saw, and all the other times I have done this, the saw goes all the way through the door, and getting the billet of wood out of the saw is a problem. This time, after about 3/4 of an inch, the fiber board crumbled, and the billet came out in 2 pieces with lots of sawdust in between. That was it for me.
I put the core of the lock set into a bag, and took it to Lowe's. When you order a custom door, the clerk makes it clear that it is a non-returnable item. But this seemed like a defect, and I went back to the door department with a chip on my shoulder, and showed them the crumbling fiber board, and also complained about how easily the door got scuffs, and Lowes made no effort to knock the chip off. The clerk agreed that I should get my money back. Good for her, and good for Lowe's.
This story will continue. I have another door ordered, a steel one, the one I probably should have ordered in the first place. I'll post about that one when my neighbor and I get it installed.