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Knocking out door dilemmas

I have so many doors in my house that swing into each other and other doors that I never close. How should I handle my door dilemma?

My first bit of advice in any door decisions is to ask if a door is truly needed! Traditionally, doors are used for light, temperature and/or sound control. Today, doors can be specified for the mere reason of tradition despite their lack of usefulness. Hence, a very annoying situation can be created by restricting traffic flow and functionality of a space. So, I recommend as few doors as possible.

Each threshold should be evaluated for its need of a door. If it does not control the factors discussed, consider removing it. By doing so, light will transmit from one space to another, helping to add brightness to dark areas. When eliminating a door in a remodeling project, a trimmed cased opening should be installed in its place. During renovation is a good time to make the threshold as wide as possible. When construction is not in the scope of the project and only a door and its hinges are being removed, there will be hinge and striker plate indentations left in the frame work. These and be filled and painted or new trim work can be applied if budget allows.

Should a door be needed for any reason, a glass door is always a welcomed option. Consider using one at the entry to a finished basement. The filtration of light will completely change the aura of basement. And, it will make this lower level feel more like another level instead of a basement!

When many doors are required within a small space, such as a bathroom, sliding doors work extremely well. A 3 sided frame, twice the width of the door with a track on the top rail, is required. Half of this frame is then sandwiched between to walls (forming a pocket) while the other half extends into the threshold. When space is really at a premium, turn the stud framing for the walls side ways to make the walls thinner. The door will then have a piece on the top that fits into the track above. A mechanism is installed on the lower portion of the door for stabilization.

While there are very fancy pulls and locking mechanisms available for pocket doors, at very hefty prices, there are other choices. If an existing swinging door has been recycled, fortunately recessed pulls are available in the diameter that matches the hole drilled for the original knob. A lock can be installed at the opposite side of the pull. It is a small recessed piece that pops out when pushed and prevents the door from sliding. A recessed piece needs to be installed in the thickness of the door in order to grab it when in full retractable mode.

For a closet situation, bi folds or double swinging doors are helpful. These doors are half the size of the opening so the amount of room needed to swing into the room is also half. And should you be able to keep the closet neat and tidy by putting things in pretty baskets, take the door off, fill the hinge depressions and paint.

Published in the Star Ledger, April 26, 2008

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