Adding thick car­pet­ing? You need to do some door-trim­ming

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Residences West -

Ques­tion: My old hard­wood floors are badly worn, so I want to cover them with thick car­pet­ing. Now I have to trim off the door bot­toms for clear­ance. What are the proper steps to do this right?

An­swer: Ac­tu­ally, the trend to­day is for peo­ple to re­move wall-to-wall car­pet­ing and in­stall hard­wood or sim­u­lated-hard­wood lam­i­nate floor­ing. Un­less your hard­wood floors are badly scratched with deep gouges, you should be able to have them sanded and re­fin­ished. This is messy, but it is not dif­fi­cult to do your­self.

How­ever, if you have your mind set on car­pet­ing for com­fort and warmth, you’ll have to trim the door bot­toms. It sounds like a sim­ple job — just cut a half-inch off the bot­tom— but it is im­por­tant to do this prop­erly. A poorqual­ity job not only looks bad, but the door bot­tom might splin­ter over time.

Car­pen­ters have spe­cial tools such as straight-edge guides, zero-clear­ance throat plates, spe­cial saws, etc. to quickly and ac­cu­rately trim the door bot­tom. You should be able to man­age by us­ing a thick 4-foot straight-edge or level, some clamps, and a stan­dard cir­cu­lar saw. If you do not have a saw, easy-to-han­dle cord­less cir­cu­lar saws are avail­able.

Stick some mask­ing tape along the bot­tom of the door. Get a sam­ple of the car­pet and pad from the car­pet­ing store. Place it on the hard­wood floor, next to the door. Mark the height of the car­pet-and-pad com­bi­na­tion on the tape on the door. Since you are in­stalling wall-to-wall car­pet­ing, plan to al­low for one-quar­ter-inch of clear­ance for the door above the car­pet. Re­move the door from the hinges and place it flat on sawhorses or on a solid kitchen ta­ble. Mea­sure up an­other quar­ter-inch from the marks on the tape, then draw a line across the en­tire door bot­tom. This will be your cut-line.

On each end, clamp the long straight­edge to the door so that the edge is lined up per­fectly with the cut-line you drew. Take a sharp util­ity knife and score the door sur­face along the cut-line. Run the blade across it sev­eral times; do the same across the end edge, where the saw blade will exit the door.

The pur­pose of scor­ing is to min­i­mize the pos­si­bil­ity of tearout. Tear-out refers to hav­ing small splin­ters run up the face sur­face of the door as the saw blade is cut­ting through it. Some woods are more prone to this than oth­ers.

Us­ing a scrap of wood, make a gauge block. Its width should be ex­actly the dis­tance from the in­side edge of the saw blade to the edge of the saw’s base plate. Place the gauge-block edge along the cut­line. Place the straight-edge or level against its other edge and clamp the straight-edge to the door. It is eas­ier to run the saw along (and against the straight­edge) than to try to fol­low the cut-line free-hand.

Set the blade depth so that it just cuts through the other side of the door. Once the cut is made, use a small block plane to smooth the door bot­tom. Wrap­ping some medium-grit sand­pa­per around a wood block also works well for smooth­ing the door bot­tom.

— cour­tesy of Cre­

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