Front door spiff-up

A long overdue finalization...

  Almost two years in after all the retrofit and follow-up, the front door was still the ugly [albeit nicely insulated] assembly I had thrown together at the beginning.  To its great credit it had survived two removal and replacement cycles, a bunch of rough frame trimming, concrete-saw exhaust, numerous big screws slammed through its perimeter, and a generous share of water issues.  Since it appeared to be robust enough for the long haul, it was time to finish the job as I'd tentatively planned at the beginning.

Off the hinges and taped up The window panes and hardware got taped off, and some of the perimeter held the weatherstripping instead of the frame so that got masked off too.  This would leave a thin strip of the original awful green, but mostly hidden behind the frame when closed so I didn't care about that.

First coat on, it definitely needs another The first coat of grey was definitely not enough, but it dried quickly in the sun and a second coat went on shortly afterward.  The paint seemed to stick to the foam just fine, and even the Tyvek tape which was a bit of a relief.  I wasn't sure that would work, and was prepared to cover those lines with some other kind of tape if needed.

  The hack here was based on what I'd learned from finishing the basement door threshold: Adding water-based urethane on *top* of latex paint works really well, as the urethane soaks down into the paint and bonds everything with a smooth and nicely water-resistant surface.  So in addition to the paint, two "invisible" coats of urethane went on too.  Solvent-based urethane might have attacked the foam, but the water-based didn't.

Painted, urethaned and reinstalled Finally the door could be re-hung, and no longer nearly as ugly!  Yes, the painters tape came off the little windows.

  Said windows were still only single-pane and definitely ran a bit cold in winter, so later on I decided to add an extra pane similar to what had been done on the two basement windows.  Outside would be the logical place, keeping all the weird hacks to one side of the door.  I had more of the mottled plastic stuff from the basement window jobs but I wanted this one such that you could actually see through it, so I needed another sheet of something clear from the local big-box.

I took the "cheap choice" of the generic acrylic sheet rather than the more expensive Lexan polycarbonate, and almost regretted it.  Trying to saber-saw the stuff as I'd done with the other sheet started to shatter pieces out along the cut, and I quickly gave up on that.  Crap, I thought, this is the type of transparent plastic that's *not* easy to work.  But I managed to scribe another line just clear of the damaged area and then ran a carbide Dremel wheel carefully along it, half-cutting and half-melting a deep enough slot that I could then break the piece fairly cleanly along that line.  Whew.

Second-windowpane prep: weatherstrip and washers I anticipated more trouble on drilling the 20 holes for the mounting screws, but going slowly and carefully on the drill press, backing with wood, and making sure the stuff didn't walk up the bit kept things under control.  An air-sealed perimeter line of medium-compression weatherstrip foam went onto the edge where it would contact the door, and the visible side got a thin run of black gaff tape [reverse side of it seen here] and to make everything match, I put a quick squirt of black paint on the washers that would help spread out the compression load a little at each mounting hole.

Outer plexi pane installed I could see how far the weatherstrip was getting compressed through the pane, and brought all the screws down just far enough for the same slight bit of squish at each one.  The beauty of wood-screws for this sort of thing -- there's enough thread friction that adjustments like that will stay put.

The result was another "submarine hatch" sort of thing, but with a "black on black" scheme to make it a little more subtle than on the basement windows.  Still, right in keeping with the general festival of kludgery this door had become.

[I suppose the frame could also use some prettying-up at some point...]

Window thermal, before Window thermal, after
And the thermal difference was already rather profound, with about 50F on the other side!  I'd have to wait to see how it would do in really cold weather.  I also still had the piece of foam I could hang on the *inside*, for those hunker-down times I didn't care about turning the entire house into an effectively windowless igloo.  Claustrophobia city for some, but the way I happen to like it.

_H*   141011