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Installing an Exterior Door for a New Mud Room

Steve Watson and crew work their magic by transforming a little used office into a mudroom.

Project Overview: "Marvelous Mudroom"

The Kirschs are a fun, energetic family that lives in a beautiful three-story Victorian home. They've done a lot of work on the house since moving in three years ago, but they've run out of steam. They want to preserve the character of their home, but they decide that the addition of a mudroom is something that would suit their family lifestyle.

Steve and the Don't Sweat It team to come to the rescue and show them how to convert their office into a mudroom by installing a new door through an exterior wall, putting in new pocket doors and recreating decorative molding in the foyer.

Below is a summary of steps, as well as a list of tools and materials used, as seen in the first Don't Sweat It project in this makeover: installing an exterior door for the newly made mudroom.

Materials and Tools:
Glass door
10' j-track
10' 2x10 pressure treated lumber
10' 5/4x6 pressure treated lumber
4x4 decorative pressure treated posts
joist hangers
8' 2x4 pressure treated lumber
4x8 bead board
12' crown molding
4x8 3/4" birch (6 sheets)
8'x1x6 pine (6)
8'x1x2 pine (4)
1x4 pine (6)
Jacobean stain
air compressor and hoses
brad nailer
caulking gun
circular saw
electric miter saw
finish nailer
framing nailer
measuring tape
painting supplies
pocket hole jig
pry bar
reciprocating saw
safety glasses
table saw
utility knife

1. Measure for the opening of the new door on the interior wall. These walls are drywall, so use a Roto-zip tool for cutting. Once into the wall, remove all insulation from the area and retain if for later. Before cutting away any studs, install new 2x4 studs to frame out the door. Only then should you cut away the old studs and install a double 2x4 header. Once the interior frame is level, squared and nailed in, drill out two holes in the upper corner of the new door frame to mark the top on the other side. Using a level and a chalk line, mark the new cut lines on the outside of the house. Carefully cut along the lines.

2. To help with this door installation, we built the walk-out stairs first. Exterior stairs should always be made of pressure treated lumber. When building stair stringers, use the "stair rule of 18": the rise and the run of stairs should add up to 18. Build these stairs with an 8" rise and 10" run. There should be one 2x10 stringer every 24 inches. Use 5/4 lumber for the treads and 1" for the risers. The posts should be made of 4x4s with a 2x4 handrail. The stairs should be nailed together with galvanized nails and the railings attached with 3/8" carriage bolts. Attach the stair unit to the house using joist hangers.

3. When installing doors, level is the key. Be sure the door frame is clean of nails and is level and plumb. Insert the exterior door frame and door into the open gap. Use cedar shims and a 4' level to get the door in straight. Once the door is level, screw through the frame and shims and into the studs. Finish the inside of the door frame with casing and the exterior with j-track that matches the siding.

4. Once the door and steps are installed, prime and paint.

5. Start with a design for the mudroom. Installtwo cleats on level for the upper cubby shelf to attach to. Screw into the studs of the wall. The cubby unit will be built in two sections out of 3/4 plywood and faced with 1x2 and 1x4 face frames. Once installed the unit can be capped with casing. The beadboard can be installed next by gluing and finish nailing to the wall. Install the pre-made desk, being sure to cut out around all trim so the desk sits true to the wall. Be sure to leave access for all necessary cables and power outlets. With the desk in place, build the bench and install. Attach the seat to wall cleats.

6. Finish the units by trimming out all necessary areas with trim and baseboard. Stain the desktop and bench-top seats. Caulk, prime and paint everything else.

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