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Need shorter than standard doors, best option?

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  • Dec 29th, 2018 11:02 pm
[OP]
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Need shorter than standard doors, best option?

I'm in the process of finishing my basement and finally getting to the stage where I can do doors. Because of the layout of the basement, all my doors are under HVAC and therefore are not standard height.
What are my best options for this? I was thinking of buying a prehung door and cutting the top & bottom. But anything patterned will look weird probably.. Possibly going to look into having something custom done, but I imagine this will be really expensive.
I know nothing when it comes to doors... please help!
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I had to do this on two doors in the basement. It takes some work. I bought hollow-core doors to the correct width and using a circular saw (with a guide - to ensure a nice straight cut) cut the excess amount off what was to be the bottom of the door. The scrap piece then needs to be taken apart - the piece of wood that forms the door's original end must be retained and glued (with carpenter's glue) inside the bottom end of the door that was just sawn.

For another entryway in the basement, I needed a half-door (to allow air circulation but keep out a pet) and I just made my own panel door to my specs. I used a 1/4" panels for the "field" of the panel and 2x6 cedar for the outside. It's not that difficult to do it full size but you do need tools (mitre saw and table saw help as does a router and a hole saw and a biscuit jointer and...). The biggest challenge is getting everything square and flat.
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CaptSmethwick wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 8:24 am
I had to do this on two doors in the basement. It takes some work. I bought hollow-core doors to the correct width and using a circular saw (with a guide - to ensure a nice straight cut) cut the excess amount off what was to be the bottom of the door. The scrap piece then needs to be taken apart - the piece of wood that forms the door's original end must be retained and glued (with carpenter's glue) inside the bottom end of the door that was just sawn.

For another entryway in the basement, I needed a half-door (to allow air circulation but keep out a pet) and I just made my own panel door to my specs. I used a 1/4" panels for the "field" of the panel and 2x6 cedar for the outside. It's not that difficult to do it full size but you do need tools (mitre saw and table saw help as does a router and a hole saw and a biscuit jointer and...). The biggest challenge is getting everything square and flat.
Thanks for the quick reply!
I did some measurements and this is what I have:
Storage 33.75 x 78

Laundry 33.75x 78

Furnace 34 x 78

So for prehung doors I looked at one for example and it says "Ideal rough opening (stud to stud measurement) of 32-1/2 in. x 82 in. required"

I'm a total noob when it comes to doors, I'm guessing I have to use shims or something to fill the gap on the sides? And in this example I'd need to take about 4" off the doors, not sure if this is too much and if prehung is still a reasonable option? I don't want it to look funny or have the knob be in a weird spot..

Thanks again for your help
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Actually I didn't factor in that it's currently concrete. So I guess I'll need to take off even more since I'll be doing subfloor and laminate
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Yes. You use softwood (pine, spruce are good) shims or full length furring strips (I prefer strips and use the minimum number of shims I can get away with). You screw the jamb right through the shims or strips into the studs. There are a lot of youtube videos on this - just watch a few good ones and take notes from other DIY sites. Having the door square to the wall and plumb is critical for it to operate smoothly. After you're done, the door mouldings will hide the gap between the door jamb and the finished wall.

If you go the pre-hung route, you will be sawing a good 4 inches or so off the height of the door and the two door jambs.

Good luck
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Just keep in mind that a prebunv door often has the hinges and hole for the handle already done. So whatever you take off needs to come from the top only, otherwise the door handle will be low. Just keep that in mind if it is any sort of patterned door as you can't simply take off 2" from the top and 2" from the bottom to keep it even.
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Paris
bpcrally wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 10:32 am
Actually I didn't factor in that it's currently concrete. So I guess I'll need to take off even more since I'll be doing subfloor and laminate
@CaptSmethwick provides a great explanation but for a total door noob I would go to a box store and see how short you can order. At one time I think 72” prehung flush slabs were available but I’m not sure now. As an exterior door contractor I know we can go quite short... in the 60s but you don’t need a steel door.

Btw, the 82” measurement is for a 79-1/2” door which is a total height of around 81-1/4”. They say 82” so there is room at the top for shims and expansion contraction. Those doors can be trimmed down 1/2”. You can also order 78” nominal doors which are really 77-1/2” and need about 79-1/2” which again can have some trimmed off the bottom of the jambs to get you to 79”.

My parents 2002 built house has some smaller doors under the bulkhead in their otherwise 8’ basement. The builder just trimmed the top off and it looks fine. They are 6 panel doors.
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Jerico wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 12:36 pm
@CaptSmethwick provides a great explanation but for a total door noob I would go to a box store and see how short you can order. At one time I think 72” prehung flush slabs were available but I’m not sure now. As an exterior door contractor I know we can go quite short... in the 60s but you don’t need a steel door.

Btw, the 82” measurement is for a 79-1/2” door which is a total height of around 81-1/4”. They say 82” so there is room at the top for shims and expansion contraction. Those doors can be trimmed down 1/2”. You can also order 78” nominal doors which are really 77-1/2” and need about 79-1/2” which again can have some trimmed off the bottom of the jambs to get you to 79”.

My parents 2002 built house has some smaller doors under the bulkhead in their otherwise 8’ basement. The builder just trimmed the top off and it looks fine. They are 6 panel doors.
Thanks! 78 was what I measured from the concrete to the top stud. I didn't know doors could be ordered in a shorter size, I'll look into that. Can I take the top off a prehung setup, or just the bottom? Obviously I want to make sure the handle isn't too low.
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bpcrally wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 12:42 pm
Thanks! 78 was what I measured from the concrete to the top stud. I didn't know doors could be ordered in a shorter size, I'll look into that. Can I take the top off a prehung setup, or just the bottom? Obviously I want to make sure the handle isn't too low.
You can do anything you want... but the best place is the top so that all doors in your house have the same handle height. I think the door jambs have a rabbit at the top (exteriors doors 100% do) so you will need to re-rabbit the top of the door to provide strength once you cut the jambs down. If you only need to buy yourself a little space then you can trim the jambs on,y at the bottom.

When you go into a store, make sure you have your rough opening and that you have 1/4” minimum all the way around. 1/2” if your opening isn’t square.

Edit: added closeup of a pre-hung we have in the basement at the cottage. You can probably eliminate the rabbit on an interior door.
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Yes - I should have made it clear that you should cut off the excess at the top if you're going the pre-hung route - that guarantees that the handsets are at the same/correct height. In my case, I bought just a base slab door so was able to mortise for the lockset at whatever height from the floor I wanted. I have jigs for lockset installation, routers, and hole saws so I am not limited to pre-hung.

Another project I did, I required a narrow 24" wide closet door in our walk-in closet. Yes, it's a closet inside a closet. Since all of our interior doors are solid cherry shaker style, I ordered a 24" solid cherry door that very much looked like this one:

Image

Then I cut the top panel completely off and trimmed a further 1/4" off the (now) top-most rail (the horizontal pieces of wood are called rails and the vertical frames are called stiles). Because the door I bought was cherry veneer on fibreboard, I had to glue a piece of cherry veneer along the top to hide the fibreboard. Here's a fuzzy pic of the finished product with the hardware and trim installed and painted:

Image
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Some stores (timbermart locally) will cut doors to match what you are replacing. Even reinstall hinges. Had a bathroom door done last summer. Just lined up the hinge and popped the pins in.
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bpcrally wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 12:42 pm
Thanks! 78 was what I measured from the concrete to the top stud. I didn't know doors could be ordered in a shorter size, I'll look into that. Can I take the top off a prehung setup, or just the bottom? Obviously I want to make sure the handle isn't too low.
A standard sized prehung door might be under $100 and a custom sized could be over 2x that. I ordered a bunch of doors from HD a few years ago. In one case, I just bought the slab, cut some off the top and bottom, re-stuffed the header/footer (or whatever it’s called), then hung it myself. Took me a while since I’ve never hung a door myself, but it turned out well.

bjl
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Curioprop wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 3:12 pm
Some stores (timbermart locally) will cut doors to match what you are replacing. Even reinstall hinges. Had a bathroom door done last summer. Just lined up the hinge and popped the pins in.
Interesting - good to know.

Thanks
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