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Robert Lamoureux: Doors can be easy fix for the handy

Your Home Improvements

Posted: February 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hello Robert,
We just bought our first home. I’m sort of handy and am looking to change some interior doors and the front door. I’ve never done this kind of work before, but am willing to give it a try. I’d appreciate any pointers. How difficult of a job is it? Keep up the good work. Thank you,
Matthew V.

Hi Matthew,
It’s fairly easy, especially if you have doors already because you can use them as a template — if they fit right. 

First, after you get your new doors, router out for your hinge placements. If you don’t have a router, then use a chisel. 

Make your measurements. Generally, all of the measurements are taken from top to bottom. Measure from the top of the door to the center of the latch.

From the leading edge of the door, the latch side, to the center of the hole will determine the size of the latch you are using. It will be 2 3/8” or 2 3/4”.

The bore will be the center the handle fits in. It’s usually 2 1/8”. The bore on the end of the latch is 1”. 

Hinges come in an array of different sizes from 3” to 3 ½”; 4” to 4 ½” and so on. You’re going to have to measure your hinges if you’re going to have the door jigged from a door supply company.

Measure from the top of the door to the top of the top hinge.

If they are rounded hinges, identify that with the length of the hinge. If it’s a 3 hinge door measure from the top of the door to the top of the middle hinge and from the top of the door to the top of the bottom hinge.

The door company will also want to know is it a right swing door or a left swing. The easiest way to explain this is to open the door and look at the jamb. Locate the hinges and put your back against them.

If the door is to your left, it’s a left swing door — or if to the right, it’s a right swing door. 

If you’re going to have the doors pre-made, then you’ll just have minimal shaving on the bottom or on the edges because, inevitably, you’re in California and buildings move every day. If a jamb is true today, it may not be true tomorrow. Make sure you have a planer or belt sander or both. Shave the door accordingly to make it fit and you should be good to go. 

I would save the front door for last because it’s a solid core, hard to maneuver, and takes two people to hang a front door. 

The pro’s — the old salts can do it alone — but as a beginner, you’re going to need an extra pair of hands to hang that door. 

You’ve heard the saying, “measure twice and cut once.” This is especially true for a front door, if you’re spending a significant amount of money with a custom or oak door, I would highly recommend letting the manufacturer do all of the boring and jigging for you.

That way, there are no mistakes.  Measure the door and write everything down, then I go back and verify all measurements again. It’s critical to be very precise with doors — within a 1/16 of an inch. 

Hey Robert,
I know this is a redundant question. I think you answered something like this in the past, but I want to be sure. My toilet started moving a little and eventually turned into a rocking chair. I pulled it off and there’s a round metal piece at the bottom that is all rotted. I think it should be replaced but it is set in concrete. Any advice? About how long of a project would you say this will take?  Thank you,
Otto H.

Hi Otto,
Go to a plumbing-supply house and get a retrofit ring. I don’t think you can find these at your regular hardware stores.
It will come with all of the necessary bolts. Also get yourself a wax ring with the black sleeve. This will assure that the waste will go where it’s supposed to, through the closet ring. It’s just a secondary safety procedure. 

Bolt down the retrofit ring. You’ll need a masonry bit to put four holes into the concrete floor.  Anchor that ring into the floor, then bolt your toilet to the retrofit ring. 

The whole job should take about an hour. The other option is to come in and demo the concrete, cut out the closet ring, and put in a regular glue down closet ring to the ABS pipe. 

Hi Robert,
I was recently in my attic and I noticed one of my roof joists has a crack that runs along the entire length. It is the only one that is damaged. What is the best way to replace it? Thank you,
Albert J.

Hi Albert,
You’ve got a bad rafter, that’s all. You don’t need to replace it, you can just sister in a new one.  Let’s say it’s a bad 2” x 6” — get a new piece of lumber the same size. It might be a little tricky, but hopefully you can get it up inside the attic.

Where it ties to the ridge beam, that’s the highest part of your roof, you’ll need to figure out that angle and cut your new 2” x 6” to match. 

Then run the new one alongside the one that’s cracked, down to the double top plate. Look at the other rafters and you’ll see how they’re cut in relation to the double top plate. That type of cut is called a bird’s mouth.

Cut the new piece the same way, so it rests on top of the double top plate.  Come back, and run bolts through both 2” x 6”s or nail with 16d’s which are your framing nails, all the way down so it’s strong. Any load will be transferred to the new 2” x 6”.             

Make sure all of the cuts are tight, so there’s no play in them, and you should be okay.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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