Front Door

August 18th, 2010

Screw you ugly screen door. Screw you big weird hole.

We finally got motivated and figured out how to fix the big hole in the front door – which means the front door is going to rehab.

Screw you as well stupid Realtor lock box.

The Boy made a little custom wood chunk to fill the giant hole below the doorknob. He puttied it up with some wood filler and then proceeded to fill a bunch of wonky holes throughout to get it primed for painting.

Sand sand sand. Patch patch patch.

Then we tried painting the door and…disaster.

It looks terrible.

Smooth roller + Behr exterior True Black in a semi-gloss = WTF. It’s ugly finish city. It was the same combo we used for the garage doors. So what went wrong?

I don’t know. I googled and googled to no avail.

As a last resort I spoke with the paint guy at Home Depot. He said it was a drying problem; the paint was drying too quickly and we weren’t putting enough paint on the roller as well as pressing too hard. Therefore, bad finish.

Since we were sanding things down and calling a do over, I decided we needed to patch up the peep hole. We had a big ornate brass thing that just wasn’t going to work with the more modern hardware we were installing. The Boy and I argued back and forth about its inclusion, and in the end The Boy cut and fit another custom chunk of wood to seal that eyesore up forever. More wood filler, more sand sand sand and BAM, solid door.

Here is the final interior after repainting and installing the new hardware. I settled on Emteks Stuttgart Lever which was $55 and a specially sized 1-1/2″ Schlage B560P deadbolt for about $35. Why the weird small deadbolt that is super expensive? Well, we tried to bore out our other exterior doors to fit a standard deadbolt and it was a complete nightmare. A nightmare I swore we would not repeat. Too bad I forgot that satin nickle is not the same color as satin chrome. Both the handle and deadbolt only offered either finish, so that means no shared finish color. Damn this door and all its stupid complications!

The deadbolt did fit like a dream, BTW.

We still need to patch and paint the exterior molding and door jamb. Oh, and paint the cement porch. At least that screen door is dead and gone.

See the lovely lumps on the upper left of the door reflecting all weird? You can totally feel them undulating under your hand. UGH. These were yet another thing contributing to the weird finish. They are not lovely lady lumps, but bizarre rolling mounds. They make me crazy.

I give up, we are calling it done. Stupid old fucked up door.



It works. I am so done screwing around with it. Better this than a big stupid hole in the door filled with spiders.

Now we need a large modern planter next to the door with some sort of cactus. Then porch paint. Hardscape. New fence. Gate. Landscape. Mailbox. Edging. And then on and on and on and on…

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  1. Airika on 08/18/2010:

    I love it! Your house looks so great and fun! Can’t wait to come over. It’s been far too long.

  2. Heather on 08/18/2010:

    The paint reflects the light weird too. I hate when paint messes up.

  3. Fat Cat on 08/18/2010:

    Nothing more frustrating than a paint disaster. I mean who likes painting in the first place and then when it doesn’t even work out as you planned… Ggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  4. Lauren @ chezerbey on 08/18/2010:

    Love it! That Emtek hardware is well-designed and surprisingly affordable.

    Great…it’s 10:00 p.m. and Kyle just asked me where the sawz’all was. (I ignored him.) Guess the old saying is true – you own a house and then the house owns you.

  5. Heather Lea on 08/18/2010:

    It’s amazing what one black door can do–even with the supposed paint disaster(s). Well done.

  6. Tina on 08/18/2010:

    Hi there!
    I love to follow all the work on your house and I know how frustrating it can feel sometimes! Anyhow, the door transformation is amazing and I think you feel satisfied now having it done!?.
    Renovating a house is a never ending story, I know what you mean!
    Have a great day!

  7. sally ogilvie on 08/18/2010:

    We found the best way to get a good finish on our door was to use a spray gun. It is super shiny and glossy now – almost reflective! We managed to cover our basement with paint however but small price to pay for a lovely door. Your reno is looking fabulous!!!

  8. melissa on 08/18/2010:

    you guys still have the coolest house in all of hemet.

  9. Charlotte on 08/18/2010:

    It looks great now. But I can really, REALLY empathise with painting and other DIY related frustrations, sometimes it feels like it never ends.

  10. Rebecca on 08/18/2010:

    Maybe it’s the Behr that’s the culprit. I used a Behr paint on my front door and the results were nasty. I eventually sanded it all off and bought some Benjamin Moore and it went on smooth, no bubbling and peeling like I was getting before.

  11. Jaime / Design Milk on 08/18/2010:

    It still looks awesome regardless of the warped door. Great job & the hardware is perfection.

  12. Bob Borson on 08/18/2010:

    Not to intentionally rub paint thinner in an open wound but if this were Dallas and not Hemet (and since you know me) I could have picked you up a 36 x 80″ solid core paint grade door for about … free. Sorry. For future reference, you can usually pick up one of those doors for less than $80 and the boy seems more than capable of hanging a new door.

    Also, super high gloss doors (particularly for the front door) are starting to become quite the rage in contemporary designs. A new door makes putting a finish like that a possibility and with it in black? Kaa-boom!

  13. my favorite and my best on 08/18/2010:

    farts, that was a lot of work. i am exhausted.

  14. ModFruGal on 08/18/2010:

    It’s still such a vast improvement..looks awesome- lumps and all.

  15. Kara on 08/18/2010:

    Even with the problems I think it looks great. I love how simple and clean it looks. And the numbers are my fav!

  16. Mary on 08/18/2010:

    The place is looking great!! The whole exterior painting project, slat porch, and the backyard have really brought the exterior together. You guys have accomplished a ton in six months. You inspire me every day to keep updating my place and with my own hands. I feel you with the on and on and on….It comes with the territory when you buy a rehab. People ask me when will it be done and I always just chuckle and think to myself you think I have a measure on this? The trips to Home depot and the do-overโ€™s alone will add on years. For my exterior, I just went out and bought the big planters with the cactus and put the rest of the exterior rehab on hold. You should be so proud at how your place is coming together.

  17. Kate on 08/18/2010:

    Love love love the handle with the clean house numbers! looks lovely.

  18. Anna @ D16 on 08/18/2010:

    Um, yes. This is a maaaaajor improvement, and I seriously hope no one starts telling you to put that screen door back on.

    I really need to sort out the door hardware situation on my front doors (yes, plural, because we have a vestibule in between them). The doors are the original mega-huge Victorian monsters, but the hardware is crappy HD junk. Since paint the exterior door black, I’ve really been wanting to go modern with the hardware, but I fear the wrath of the historic review board. Sigh.

    I’m really excited to see plantings in front of your house now! Now that the garage doors and this guy are fixed up, I’m eager for more, more, more…

    p.s. Another way to do a quick-n-dirty fill job on a door (or whatever) is to use spray foam insulation. When it’s dry, scrape it out a bit below the surface of the wood, then use wood-filler as usual. No, it won’t hold a screw, but it looks just fine.

  19. Ashley on 08/18/2010:

    How do you do all these things? At once?

  20. Wow, what a huge improvement! Are you planning on keeping the porch the existing color or swapping it?

  21. tiffany on 08/18/2010:

    i think it looks fabulous! imperfections are always noticed more by the person working on something… your total house transformation is totally inspiring!

  22. Conan on 08/18/2010:

    I think maybe I’d agree with Bob. A new door would make your life quite a bit simpler, and I think maybe rather than black paint, a really really dark almost black stain with a gloss top coat would work better, or at least look a little more even.

    But, not to be a Debbie Downer here, I really like what you’ve done with what you have. Looks excellent, and if it looks as good in real life as in the photos, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  23. jennifer on 08/18/2010:

    looks so much better! great job!
    personally, i’d only brush paint a door but, that wouldn’t have solved your problem . . .

  24. steve on 08/18/2010:

    Hillarious, “They are not lovely lady lumps….”

  25. Jason (These Roving Eyes) on 08/18/2010:

    Huge improvement.
    I also wonder if it would have been easier to buy a new door. But you two are workhorses, and I commend you.

  26. April on 08/18/2010:

    Looks great! And I love that you reused the door, despite its flaws. We are undergoing an almost identical process right now… getting rid of the ugly (and broken) screen door, patching holes and gouges in the wood door, and painting it. We’re gonna go for a bright red though!

  27. Tyler (plastolux) on 08/18/2010:

    Way better, nice work.
    Who gives a rip if the paint is a little wonky!

  28. Sean on 08/18/2010:

    Whatcha gonna do with that old screen door? I love it! How’s about you post it to me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Though I live in a little Brooklyn apartment, you’re work has given me lots of inspiration. Thanks for making the internet such a great place.

  29. Shauna on 08/18/2010:

    If you were laughing; I would be laughing with you. Our “new” house was filled with adventures with random holes as well. And spiders, centipieds, and exterior lights inside. Good times.

    Love seeing your projects and reading your blog!

  30. kurt on 08/18/2010:

    the door looks great. i’m vicariously living through your remodel in preparation – and steeling myself for our move to palm springs and all the home related improvements that will need to happen, not to mention the packing!

    kudos on your progress. the house is really coming along.

  31. Angela on 08/18/2010:

    But the screen door matched the new screen! It looked so coordinated! KIDDING! Fabulous as always. Love the hardware! Love the color! It makes me hate our front door all the more.

  32. THE BRICK HOUSE on 08/18/2010:

    Yeah, this whole thing was a bit frustrating. Plus it’s been like 105 degrees out which makes my brain so angry.

    Anna – I didn’t even think of spray foam. That would have been easier. Do it! Change your hardware. I love this Emtek handle. It feels sturdy and well built and looks so so clean.

    Bob – I thought we were saving money and being frugal by fixing the door, especially since it’s kind of a funny size and solid. In retrospect it probably would have been a better solution to just get a new one and the spray it. It took ten times as long as was SO frustrating but only cost around $30 to fix, excluding the hardware of course.

    We are getting four single light wood and glass doors for the back of the house and garage. Hopefully that will be easier.

  33. John on 08/18/2010:

    The door looks great! I’m surprised how big of a difference it made! I was kind of hoping to see a colour on that door, but you can never go wrong with timeless black.

    Amazing as usual.

  34. marisa on 08/18/2010:

    i leurve it.

    question: what color will you be painting the cement porch??? huh? huh?

  35. THE BRICK HOUSE on 08/18/2010:

    I don’t know! I can’t decide.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

  36. bxcolby on 08/18/2010:

    So much better, once you’ve recovered you’ll agree I’m sure.

  37. Alex on 08/18/2010:


  38. Christy on 08/19/2010:

    Not that you want to sink any more money into the door but I recently came across this mid century inserts that you retrofit onto any door. Just an idea.

  39. Kelly@TearingUpHouses on 08/19/2010:

    Wait, is that lockbox from the ooold photos? Or are you selling? Did I miss something?

  40. Kris on 08/19/2010:

    The colour is lovely, but argh I feel your pain with the bumps.
    Dark glossy hues are a bitch to get right, but there are two thinks that I find helpful; A) a good little sponge roller, and not overloading it and even pressure. B) Using a rather matte paint to get the colour right and then applying see through glossy paint or lack, varnish is the word I guess, over it (with said clean sponge roller). B might feel like a cheat but it works well.
    The porch, hmmm, would sticking with the house white be to much? Then just a slightly darker gray, kind of matching the darker grays in the roof tile, I think black would be a little too much and kind of like a black hole seen from the street.

  41. littlebadwolf on 08/19/2010:

    looking good!

    several years ago the big boxes offered a screen door which was essentially a big roller shade turned on its side which ‘disappeared’ to the vertical part of the doorframe. don’t know if those doors are still around, but if you want the flexibility of having a screen door without the ugly look, you should take a look.

    still think you need some strong dark horizontal lines on the front wall to the left of the door, like painted molding and planter stretching the length of the structure.

  42. onehsancare on 08/19/2010:

    Looks great!! I’ve been waiting to see hardware since you won that Rejuvenation contest a year ago!!! Wonderful choices . . . now the challenge will be not mentioning the different finishes when people admire them!

  43. red on 08/20/2010:

    — i’d second the “get a new door” comments. if j is handy with a router, he can fit himself and get the slab at the big-box… or you can get it “matched” at a local door-shop/sub-big-box (ask if they do “door matching”). “matching” means you bring in your old door and they route the hinges and drill the holes where you need them. usually costs about $40/door. you can get a masonite-faced primed door for $70 easy. play the cards right and the “under $100” goal can be yours. if you don’t own a router or door-drilling kit (and are doing only one door), then matching is the way to go.

    — spraying is the only way to go for the finish you want, methinks (we’ll be taking ours off and doing that). if you insist on rolling, get a better paint and try adding flotrol. also try a “velour” roller (not foam (or flocked foam) — they’re the worst). also, if you can stand the fumes, oil-based paint will be so much harder/durable than latex which will always be a bit rubbery. try a quart of rustoleum enamel. since you’re going straight black, you might even rattle-can paint it. i’d suggest trying a satin black and buffing with 0000 steel wool with a bit of wax after the last coat for a soft sheen. if you want “car-paint” gloss, you have to pro-spray something that large — a roller or brush will look terrible on anything more glossy than satin. ask your hotrod neighbor for advice there (seriously). honestly, a matched door taken to a car shop to spray a basic catalyzed-lacquer black will make it the most luscious and probably be the easiest.

    — alternately, you could also think about laminating the front/back face with formica/laminate. in a 4X8 size, a satin black shouldn’t be too expensive ($75?). you could trim the edges with a laminate trimming bit on the router for a pro-edge and leave the edges a “raw”/clear-coated finish. how rad would it be if your door looked like an eames tabletop?

  44. Juli on 08/21/2010:

    Ah, it’s looking great! Frustrating, yes. But each step you take is bringing the whole thing together.

  45. Misti on 08/21/2010:

    I have an idea for the mismatched chromes. Use the bolt on the back door and order the proper finish to match the front door… After all of your waiting and hard work they should match and you’ll be happier:)

  46. Charlotte K on 08/21/2010:

    That’s NOT an ugly screen door, it’s a classic, but it definitely wasn’t right for your house. It belongs on an old Craftsman bungalow or a 1913 Queen Ann (Mine). I can just hear it slapping on a Saturday a.m.

  47. Adriane on 08/22/2010:

    I have NO idea if it’s a good idea or not, but I know on our house, they ran out of money and decided to put a new piece of plywood over our old door. They cut some shallow horizontal grooves in it for visual interest before attaching it and painting it dark gray. It seemed to go fast, and we haven’t noticed any issues with it. Maybe in a year it will fall apart, but for now, it seems like a cheap solution. I do remember that they had to leave the plywood slightly smaller than the door so it would close, but you can’t tell now that it’s all painted. However, I think your door looks great. I especially love the hardware. Ours looked like a souvenir from Thailand. Not quite modern…

  48. 9flights on 08/22/2010:

    I’m sure if I were standing in front of your door I would never notice the different finishes on the handle vs. the deadbolt, but if I were you, it would drive me crazy, too! I have expensive satin nickel outlet covers with a little bit rounded corners in my kitchen, but then I found cheap ones with squared corners for the rest of the house and even that drives me crazy Every Single Day when I look at them. Noone has every noticed.

    Did you paint your front door while it was still on the hinges, or did you take it off and lay it flat? I have this problem on my door, and that’s what I’m thinking did it. Who knows, I really just want a new powder coated door that I don’t have to mess around painting black myself! One day.

  49. Patricia Ann on 08/22/2010:

    Sweet holy guacamole. I would bang that door. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. krista on 08/23/2010:

    Your front is looking fabulous! love it. You are right – the screen door wasn’t working on your house but it is cute and I’d be happy to buy it off you. my house would like it slapping against it. (;
    I can show you a picture of our current scary home-depot screen doors if it will help convince you.

  51. gad1n10 on 08/24/2010:

    I like easily 90%+ of what you do, the changes – big and small – are amazing. Biggest peeve are the slats on the porch… I probably would have extended them to the edge of the steps and also considered extending the side to the chimney – that part might have been more involved..

  52. Lauren on 08/25/2010:

    What a big improvement! Well done.

  53. Jenn on 08/26/2010:

    OMG I hear your “on and on” comment. I mean for pete’s sake, we just bought our first place – a tiny 500 SF 1 bedroom condo – in November and we can’t even GET THE PAINT IN THE LR RIGHT. SIGH. We are having weird lumpy plaster wall plus texture from the roller we don’t like issues, etc. I feel like we will never ever be done. So I feel your pain but also, seeing you complete things makes me feel like maybe we can do it too!

    I love your site and so many of your design choices. Thanks!

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