While a front entry door is often a focal point of a home, the back door is also vital for the appearance of the home. As we’ve been working on the back and side yards, we’ve envisioned future gatherings and our guests’ directional flow in and out of the home to these entertaining spaces.
And the back door was a problem.
Our found boxer dog, Skinny, had torn up both the interior back door (yes, for some reason, the home had both a metal security door and a hollow-core interior door at the rear egress) and the wooden step leading to the door. The compounded effect left something to be desired. Furthermore, that hollow interior door swung inward, blocking the rear bathroom door and often causing a door traffic jam (not to mention making tours difficult).
The unusual measurements of the area, 32.75x 79.5, made our search for an appropriate door more complicated. We wanted a door that looked appropriate for the home and the time period, cost a reasonable amount, provided enough security for an exterior door, and had at least a small window to the backyard.
My cursory sifting through Craigslist yielded a few potential candidates, but most were either damaged or lacked the window. I knew we’d have much better luck and inspiration at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Most of the doors at the ReStore have been l
abeled in permanent marker with their dimensions, making the search slightly more efficient. The doors at the Gardena location included everything from full garage doors to gorgeous French patio doors to massive business front doors. We lucked out in finding this beautiful glass-paneled door in almost exactly the right size! The repetition of squares and individual panes of glass are reminiscent of the windows and all the wood inside the home. Its original coloring included grey on one side and white on the other. Unfortunately, it did have a small crack in one pane (though we have since found one other small crack), but at only $75 and fitting the room’s look and age perfectly, the door was worth it.
At first, I worried about security; after all, if someone had somehow made it through the fortified, spiked front security gate, past our intimidating guard dog, and to the back door, he/she could simply break the glass of the exterior door and unlock the handle from the inside, right? In order to avoid this potential issue, we installed a double-sided deadbolt above the handle. It locks from both the inside and outside, making a broken pane only an inconvenience and not a security risk. Furthermore, as Jon pointed out, the entire room consists almost exclusively of windows that humans can’t fit through!
The laundry area (likely a mudroom originally) contains almost exclusively white paint. When trying to decide what color to paint the door, we considered our plans for the room and the rest of the home. Ultimately, painting the door’s interior side brown and the exterior white won out. That way, the brown color pulls a viewer’s eye through
the dining room and kitchen to the back door, creating more visual unity, and the exterior portions match the rest of the home’s doors and windows with a stark white.
s project involved removing the huge metal security door. The one-way screws were actually broken, so we had to grind them off to get the frame and door off! Luckily, scrappers in the neighborhood drive by regularly, and the metal security door was snatched up off the street minutes after its arrival.
Jon then spent many hours repairing both the door and the frame. After sanding, he used large amounts of wood filler for this process. It seems years of hardware changes and hinge changes, plus Skinny’s recent overzealous clawing, had damaged the threshold, door, and frame significantly. At this point, he also added a 1.5 inch piece of wood to the top of the door, as its measurements were not exactly right. Wood filler eliminated the seam so it isn’t even visible!
Painting the door and frame was the next step. The original brown we’d chosen wasn’t quite right, so another trip to the hardware store caused another delay in the process. Jon painted the door, doorframe, and even the windowsill, so that everything matches and looks similarly new.
Jon also sanded, re-stained, and sealed the threshold step. When we’d first moved in, this step had been painted white. Of course, any white surface people/dogs step on, particularly when said surface leads to the outdoors, stays white for about 1.5 seconds. Jon had previously sanded and scraped the wood bare (removing 4 previous colors of paint as well as a stain), staining it and sealing it with a shiny protective sealant, but Skinny’s incessant clawing had damaged that finish already. As part of this project, Jon repeated his actions (though the process was significantly easier this time, as he only removed one layer prior to re-staining and sealing).
Finally, the door was hung and the hardware installed! I also have a vintage brass
exterior handle and lock set I’d like to replace this newer hardware with when we get the chance (and if it can be keyed to match our existing locks), but this is a huge improvement over the previous back door situation!