House Door Repair
#11
  
You may remember this house door that I made and installed in December last year:





You'll note there is a storm door over it and you can see that the sun shines directly on the door for a portion of the day.  Well, in less than a month, in late December, my customer calls me to tell me that he heard this loud pop one evening, on what was then the coldest night of the year at about 6°F.  After looking elsewhere he opened the door and found the center panel had a big crack in it.  





Over the following weeks cracks showed up in all three panels, and in late Winter the lower rail split in the center.  Curiously, when I was out in Breckenridge, CO skiing about the same time I looked at many doors in town.  I would say that at least half of them with wide bottom rails had similar cracks.  They were all white oak, though I suspect solid construction while mine is composite.  In any case, not good.  

Fast forward to April, my friend and I went and installed some vents in the storm door.  The door should be removed, but the homeowner wants to keep it, so venting it was my best alternative.  I used some screened aluminum louver vents, 1" diameter.  They are installed on the inside of the top and bottom rails.  Holes are drilled through the bottom and top rails to let air into and out of the interior space via those vents.  We'll see if this works.  

Last week we went and removed the door and brought it back to my shop.  My two woodworking friends and I looked at it and discussed how best to repair it.  The suggestion was made to cut out the lower rail, which would allow the panels to be pulled out.  The alternative was to cut rabbets to release the panels and then use applied moldings to capture the new ones.  The bottom rail would still need to be repaired.  Removing the bottom rail won out because the door would look the same after repair, assuming I could fit the new rail in place without damaging the rest of the door.  

Removing it actually went pretty smoothly.  I cut away the bulk of it with a jig saw and then used a router with a bearing bit riding on a piece of plywood clamped flush with the joint to remove the remainder where it was glued to the stiles.  With it gone removing the panels was pretty straight forward.  


 
This time I made the new panels from solid stock, 5/8" QS/RS white oak on the outside and plain sawn ash on the inside.  They are separated with a piece of aluminum foil for a moisture and thermal break.  The panels are finished on both sides and all edges.  I also changed the construction of the lower rail.  The original was made from LVL core with 3/16" thick veneers.  This time I used edge stacked poplar for the core and 1/8" veneers.  I couldn't use M&T joints to reassemble the door so I used 3/8" dowels in slightly oversized holes, slid into their pre-drilled holes during glue up through 1/2" holes on the outside of the stiles that were later plugged.  I figured the epoxy I used to glue it up would fill in sufficiently around the dowels to keep it locked together.  We'll see. The lower rail was finished prior to glue up, too.  





Back in place the door looks as good as new.




We'll see if this is the end of the story.  

John
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#12
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
Nice looking job, as usual John! Just for clarification, are the panels you rebuilt now 1 1/4" thick, i.e. 5/8" oak an 5/8" ash? Also, since you used the LVL core for the rails (supposedly a very stable material) wrapped in veneer the first time, why do you think the rail cracked?

Doug
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#13
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
Did the LV expand/contract enough for the veneer only to split, or did the LV's crack also?

Putzing, the new hobby


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#14
  Re: RE: House Door Repair by Stwood_ (Did the LV expand/co...)
Doug, the stile cores are poplar.  Only the top and bottom rails were LVL core.  I think the veneer on the lower rail cracked for several reasons.  One, the lower rail is 12" wide.  Two the veneer is white oak (high seasonal expansion/contraction) and it was 3/16" thick, on an LVL core which is pretty stable.  And, most important, it was sitting behind an unvented storm door that gets direct sun.  Put all that together and the veneer tried to shrink as it dried out but the core wouldn't let it so it cracked.  The top rail is about 8" wide, gets no sun, and is fine.  

StWood, only the outside veneer cracked. The LVL core is fine as is the ash veneer on the inside, on both the lower rail and panels.  That confirms to me that the high seasonal expansion of the white oak, magnified by the direct sun exposure behind an unvented storm door, was the root of the failure.  

Yes, the new panels are 5/8" thick both inside and out, so their combined thickness is still 1-1/4" like the originals.  I'm quite confident they will be fine.  I'm hoping the new lower rail will be, too.  I sure hope so.  This door is heavy and taking it down into my shop and back out is not a fun task.  

John
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#15
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
Very nice repair.

I know the extremes you're facing just from observing the temps that the pocket gets to between my (brown) steel entry door, and the aluminum storm door.

When it was installed, I was told to keep a crack at the top of the storm year around, not just in summer.

Regardless, it has gotten so hot that the sealant they used for the window trim melted and ran down the door.

I don't know what they used for sealant, but melting whatever it was after it set, that's hot.

So fingers crossed for your repair.
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#16
  Re: RE: House Door Repair by Phil Thien (Very nice repair. ...)
(05-16-2018, 10:20 PM)Phil Thien Wrote: Very nice repair.

I know the extremes you're facing just from observing the temps that the pocket gets to between my (brown) steel entry door, and the aluminum storm door.

When it was installed, I was told to keep a crack at the top of the storm year around, not just in summer.

Regardless, it has gotten so hot that the sealant they used for the window trim melted and ran down the door.

I don't know what they used for sealant, but melting whatever it was after it set, that's hot.

So fingers crossed for your repair.

Hi Phil.  When I was researching the first exterior door I built a year ago a pro (not Joe G) told me he had measured temps. close to 200F between a glass storm door and a dark painted house door.  The door mine replaced had been covered by a glass storm door and the plastic exterior of it was buckled from the heat.  Your comment about melted plastic trim is consistent with that.  The new door I built has no storm door and is fine after a year despite facing directly West with full sun and rain exposure.  Fingers crossed on that one, too.

I went and checked the temp. in the space between the current doors before I installed the venting and only measured about 120F, but I suspect it got much hotter.  I haven't checked it since installing the vents yet, but will one of these days.  Like a lot of jobs, I've become friends with the owner, despite the problems with the door, so I get to see it regularly.  

The moral of the story here is don't put a storm door over a wood door if it gets direct sun exposure.  You'd be far better off with a steel door although I've heard stories of paint blistering off them.  And watch out for plastic trim!

John
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#17
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
Do you think putting a tinted film on the storm door would help much?
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#18
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
That might be a really good idea. I'll have to look into that. Thanks very much.

John
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#19
  Re: RE: House Door Repair by Bill Wilson (Do you think putting...)
(05-17-2018, 09:44 AM)Bill Wilson Wrote: Do you think putting a tinted film on the storm door would help much?

Just a follow-up to let you know that I did some research on this.  There are several companies making various window film products. I settled on 3M's Sun-Control product line, because they make good stuff and because there is a local company that carries and installs it.  I talked about it with my customer and he was very enthusiastic about it.  I put him touch with the company and the tech. sales rep. came out to look at the doors and recommended the PR-70 film for the storm door glass which lets through 70% of the visible light, blocks 50% of the total solar energy and 99.9% of the UV light.  This particular film offers the lowest reduction in solar heat gain in this product line but looks most like plain glass.  I'm sure it will help, especially with UV protection of the door finish.  They will be out to install it in the near future; I think the owner said around $175, so not cheap but I'd happily pay for it if it protects my door.  If I'm back a year from now to tell you all is well then I guess all the changes I made will have been successful.  As was said earlier, fingers crossed.  

Thanks again for the idea, Bill.

John
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#20
  Re: House Door Repair by jteneyck (You may remember thi...)
What did you put in place during the repair?  Seems like it probably took some time to do-- what'd the homeowner use for security/privacy during this time?

Colin
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