|Can you even imaging an old historic home with a screen door "that" color?|
Like most homes, we have a "back door" that opens into the kitchen. Unlike many, though, we have a screen door, too, that makes airing out the kitchen after a peach jam cooking marathon a bit easier.
The screen door was painted bright teal in the late 90s when the rest of the exterior of the house was painted. It was hideous. We painted the exterior 2 years ago and I did not have a minute to remove, repair and paint the screen door. So last weekend, with a plan and a bunch of hardware, I took down the screen door and set out for a 2-day clean-and-install for the screen door. That was a great plan, but it took a full 9 days to make happen.
Heres what happenedPopping out the hinge pins easily removed the door from the jamb—there were only 2 out of 3 remaining, anyway. The first task was removing the hinge hardware (I had removed all other screws, springs and handles during the week before so I didn't have to do that on the weekend). Of course the screws had thick globs of paint in the slots to ensure a high-level of difficulty and a greater chance of stabbing myself with the screwdriver or mat knife as I scraped clean the slots to turn out the screws.
Removing trim wood and screen wasn't too tough. The slim trim used to cover the staples holding the screen in place popped right off and the mutilated screen came out pretty simply.
Once that was done I turned to scraping the door of some/most of the paint. Old latex and a super sunny day made for a sticky gummy job scraping and sanding.
|Once the screen door was out of the opening, the damage under the screen trim could be seen.|
|The screen was barely held in place by staples, so removing them was fairly easy.|
|The back door has always had a doorbell. Red paint was used in combination with that bright teal (ugh).|
|This strip of wood was added at some point to the door jamb. I doubt it is original to the house, but makes for a great place for attaching hinges.|
Under the bright teal paint I found only one other layer of paint: original black asphalt paint. Made from petroleum products and used on roads and roofs, this black paint is still available today and is a great waterproofer, as well as a sure way to gum-up tons of sandpaper if you're trying to remove it in the sun ... when It does sand, it covers you in black soot—lots and lots of black soot—everywhere black ...
Next came patching all the holes and repairing the tack area for the screen as well as I could. It had been shredded a bit from the last few times the door was re-screened, and needed a little reinforcement. White glue can do in a pinch, but I use Water Putty for most of these small repairs, now. You can mix only what you need, to the consistency you need. It's a fairly good consolidate on not badly damaged wood like this, especially if a little white glue is thrown in, and its pretty tough once primed and painted. Time to let that cure.
One odd thing I noticed while scraping and sanding and patching was that the chamfers on the upper part of the door stiles didn't end in the "lamb's tongue" as they should—they stopped dead at the top rail. After thinking on this for a while, I realized that the door had been reduced in height at some point—most likely when the glass transom above the door was removed and the kitchen exhaust fan added in the 40's. They built out a box to support the fan motor and in doing so reduced the height of the door jamb by about 18 inches. That required reducing the height of the screen door, too.
No time to rest. Attention next turned to the door jamb. The other half of the old hinges needed removing and the holes and mortises needed to be patched. Globs of bright red paint covered the screw heads. A few other patches were needed since PO had nailed something all over the hinge side. At least they removed the nails. People are weird.
Patches made, I ran down to check on how the patches on the door were coming. Since they were mostly dry I sanded what I could, left the rest to cure, and started on the hardware.
The hardware was a collection of pieces from eBay, antique shows and junk shops that I was determined should all match. All Eastlake in design, it was all purchased in bits, rather than sets, so collecting matching items was a little time consuming. 12 corner braces, 2 matching handles, 2 matching surface mounted hinges, a couple of bolts and hooks to secure the door. Most of it needed to have the paint removed, some of it needed to have the worn brass coating removed. All of it needed a good spin on the wire brush ride to add some shine and to "gussy-it-up." The hardware was all cast iron except for the screws and eye hooks, which are brass. I like the way the iron and brass look together—it feels tougher, more masculine. And in true restorer's form, I use only slotted screws when I replace things like this.
Whew ... Time for a quick runAfter I got back from running I was really dog-tired. I had worked on this for 6-hours-straight and still was behind my planned schedule. I needed to at least finish the sanding, get some primer on both the door and jamb so it could dry overnight, and coat the hardware to waterproof it a little.
Finished up the day with a run to Lowes to pick up screws, screening, and those slim little strips of wood that cover the edges of the screen where it's stapled to the door.
I woke up early and trudged out to sand the primer I put on the door the night before, without even getting any coffee. I still planned to get the door up before the end of the day. A couple coats of paint went on well enough, flipping it and moving it out of the sun. The door is painted a color I designed for our last house's front porch floor, hence it's name: "Porch Floor Green." I wanted a dark yellow-based green that was nearly black without being black, and with no blue sheen or tint. Most paint companies make their green darker by adding blue, thereby making the green too blue to work well with the other colors I used. Its a great color that ages really well and fades (in the sun) to a dull yellowish-grey-green.
The door jamb got painted, too. Oh wait ... I still need to cut the strips to cover the screen-ends ... and paint them ... ugh.
Change of planSo now I knew I wouldn't get the door hung before the end of the day, Sunday. But I still worked till dark to get it as far along as possible, including spray painting the screen to look like it's bronze (have you priced bronze screening? It's ridiculous, but looks so good. Spray paint is the next best thing)
On the following Saturday morning I was able to cut and paint all of the little strips of wood for covering the staples. Attached them with brass screws along with the iron corner braces on Sunday morning, and attached the handles, too. Then, started the final stage of hanging the door. With a batch of shims in hand I slipped the door into the opening and started balancing the spaces around it with the shims. Of course it was out of square, but I got it to a place where it wouldn't bind and the hinges would attach well, so that was good with me.
Just so you don't think I was taking it easy, this same second weekend of work I also bought, peeled and prepped a basket of peaches and made 11 quarts of peach jam. Why do I want so much?
Attaching surface mount hinges is pretty simple, so of course I screwed it up. When I was about to screw in the first hinge at the top of the door, one of my antique cast iron hinges slipped and dropped onto the stone step under the door, snapping off one of the arms that holds the pin in place. It was useless, since a repair would never render it as strong as it needs to be to hold up a door. After a short cry and some foot stomping, I went to the box where I have old hardware on the third floor and dug out the hinges I was "saving" for the front screen door. This time I was more careful to avoid dropping and got them successfully attached.
|The one unbroken "back door" hinge. Im on the hunt for a pair of them to use on the front door (I'll need 3 since the door is so much heavier).|
|One of the "front door" hinges in place on the back door. Love these hinges. Love those colors. It's all pretty yummy to me.|
|One of a pair of solid iron Eastlake-style handles. These are pretty tough to find. Most of the handle that aook like this are hollow in back, or are reproduction. Sometimes it pays to be eBay obsessive.|
The final adjustments were to add the interior handle (you have to be sure to position it so the screen door and main door handles won't interfere with one another) and add a little hook and eye catch to use daytimes when we have the main door open.
|Screen door corner braces. Originally intended to add support to flimsy screen doors, these are used here only for decorative purposes.|
|All that metal ... so pretty.|