If you live in an older home, you have probably noticed that the doors are not as wide as they are in modern construction. This can make replacing a door very interesting. Buying custom interior doors is a very costly endeavor and can cost as much as $300 for one door. You can decrease this number by at least 50% by creating a custom sized door from a standard door.
Standard Door Sizes
Interior doors typically have an opening width of 2′ 6″, 2′ 8″, or 3′ 0″. These standards were developed when doors were started to be made by manufacturing companies, rather than by the carpenters on site. This also kept the opening wide enough to move furniture from room to room without having to go through windows. Older doors are all solid wood, making them very heavy and requiring a heavier duty hing. Most of the doors from the early 1900’s to the 1940’s are paneled doors, having decorative panels that not only give the doors character, but make the door construction very strong.
Non-Standard Door Sizes
Any door that has a measurement other than the ones above is probably a custom door size. Most of these are smaller and require that a custom door be installed in the opening. These doors can usually be made out of standard size doors because of the solid panel construction available through building material wholesalers.
Making A Custom Door
Take a standard door that is only a few inches too small for the opening (if that) . For example, if you have a door opening that is 2′ 4″, use a 2′ 6″ door to make the custom door. We will use this as the example set for making a custom door.
Cut along both edges 1 1/16″ of the door. This give you 1/8″ of room to make sure that the door swings properly without rubbing or binding on the door jamb. Make sure you use a straight edge when taking off this material. Tape along where you are cutting to avoid chipping the wood. This is especially important with oak as oak tends to splinter when cut.
Lay the old door on top of the new door and line up the bottom and top of the door. If the door needs to be cut down, Take it off the bottom of the door as the bottom of the door is thicker than the top. Using a speed square, draw a line exactly where the hinges were on the other door onto the new door. Chisel out the area where the hings goes, making sure that the hinges counter sink into door edge so that the hinges are flush (even) with the door edges. Attach the door to the door jamb with a cordless drill and screws.
Mark the center of where the door knob will go and drill a 2 inch hole where the door knob will line up with the original door catch. Then drill a hole in the side of the door in the center of the 2 inch hole for the plunger. Install the door knob per the manufacturer instructions. You will have to also chisel out the plunger plate that goes over the plunger of the door.
Open and close the door to make sure that it operates correctly.
Using standard doors to make custom doors is a a great way to save a lot of money odd door sizes. This is especially true in older homes where the basement is finished and the ceiling height does not allow for full door heights. One word of advice though, stay away from hollow core doors for projects like these. Hollow core doors were used more prominently in the 1970’s and 1980’s and are manufactured now to look like paneled doors. These doors require too much structural work to be viable door solutions for a custom size.