Installing interior door to basement

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Old 01-26-16, 11:49 PM
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Installing interior door to basement

There is currently no door leading to my basement, and I would like to add one. I was thinking about hiring a contractor to do this job, but I think I could pull it off with a prehung door.

I thought about installing one at the top of the stairs, but it seems like it would be easier to do in the basement.

The distance from the bottom of the joists to the basement floor is 80". Any advice for the job? It seems like I would have to install the door, and build walls on the sides. It sounds fairly straightforward, but I know I'm probably wrong on that. I appreciate any input.

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Old 01-27-16, 01:30 AM
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You could probably frame the wall & add a door without a problem. However, if you have to move any large objects such as a new boiler, it could lead to a problem. Also, you'll need at least one hand rail which would make the space even smaller. Actually, there should be a handrail there now. How do you plan to light the stairwell?
 
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Old 01-27-16, 02:32 AM
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.... also if you frame it in - consider leaving a 'landing' at the bottom of the stairs as it's easier to open/close a door if are on the same level instead of reaching down from a step. IMO it would make more sense to have the door at the top.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 07:05 AM
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It certainly looks like a whole lot less work to put the door at the top.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 11:06 AM
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Door

80 inches is not sufficient for a pre-hung door without modifications to the pre-hung unit. Modification would require cutting the jambs, trim, and bottom of the door. This, in turn, would lower the latch.

Install the door at the top and have it open into the living space. Do not have it open toward the stairwell.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 04:35 PM
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Thank you for your replies. I thought about installing it at the top of the stairs, but there's a few things stopping me.

When I measured, I think the distance from the floor to ceiling was around 96", and the width of the opening was around 44". On the right side of the image, you can see a light switch on the wall, and the boiler switch on the wall. Between the doorway on the right side of the picture, and top of the basement stairs, I think the is only around 6" or so. 6" might be enough room to work with, but it seemed tight to me. I'm also not sure how I would make up for the extra height, and width since 96"/44" seems fairly tall and wide. Build small walls on the sides and top? If I'm being completely honest, I'm also kind of paranoid about electrical hiding behind walls on an old house like this. I have a stud finder which also has an AC setting, but I guess that's also why installing a door in the basement is appealing to me.

Pulpo - If I decided to install the door in the basement, and add walls, I think that would make it easy for me to install a handrail. I'm sure I could install one the way it is right now, but I haven't looked into it much, and I'm not sure how I would do it. I haven't thought about how I would light the stairwell. I guess I thought the light at the top would be enough if I put the door in the basement, but I guess I was going to see how the lighting situation was after, or while in progress.

Marksr - I agree that I would definitely like to have a landing at the bottom of the stairs, I was thinking somewhere between 2-4ft.

Stickshift and Wirepuller - I am still considering the top of the stairs, but I have some hesitation as I mentioned above with the switches on the walls and such. I have seen many sizes for prehung doors, some which are 78" high, so I thought those would work ok? I know that the actual size of the door would be a little bigger than what was listed, but I thought I might be able to find a 78" tall door that would work. I have not looked into that much yet though, so I may be wrong on that.

I was reluctant to post a picture from the top of the stairs since I'm doing some work with the molding and painting and it is incomplete, but here's what the space at the top of the stairs looks like.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 05:00 PM
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The light at the top looks like it will solve the lighting question but the main question is the access, if the boiler or any other large item needs to pass through the stairwell. Forget about a door at the bottom.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 05:11 PM
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That's a good point. Maybe if I go with a wider door I'd be ok?
 
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Old 01-27-16, 05:20 PM
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Not really because the walls will interfere. If I were carrying a boiler down those stairs, I might want to stop once I were passed the chimney & lift it over the stringer. A door at the bottom will be nothing but trouble. Either install it at the top or forget about it.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 06:58 PM
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I measured some of the big ticket items in my basement, as well as the distance from the wood stove chimney to the wall. The oil tank is about 30" wide, boiler 19" wide, washer/dryer 29", and hot water heater tank 24". The width of the stairs is 36", and the width from the chimney to wall is 32".

I also went out to buy some painting supplies tonight, and checked out a prehung 78"x36" door which seemed like it could work. I'm still considering installing it at the top of the stairs, but I haven't completely ruled out in the basement either. Maybe if I placed the wall a foot or two away from the side of the stairs, and had a big enough landing area that would help. I'm not sure, I'll have to think about this a little more later on tonight or tomorrow.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 09:59 PM
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It's not just a question of "does the item fit through the door"? What about 2 or 3 200lb guys carrying the item upstairs or a hand truck?
 
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Old 01-27-16, 11:19 PM
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I understand, I'm a very accommodating person so I don't want to make things difficult for other people. I guess I thought with a 2'-4' landing at the bottom, and possibly 1'-2' of space on the open side (opposite chimney), that would be sufficient.

I went and double checked the opening size at the top of the stairs, its 96" high, 44" wide. I'm just not sure what do do right now. If I put a door at the top of the stairs, I think that I would have to add a light like you said earlier. Adding a light probably wouldn't be too hard, but just something else I have to consider, pros/cons to doing it each way.
 
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Old 01-27-16, 11:32 PM
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If you aren't sure what to do, wait awhile. There is no rush.
 
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Old 01-28-16, 01:37 AM
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I agree 100%. I have a lot of other little projects going on right now, I'd like to have this done by April or May. Right now I'm split 50/50 between top of stairs, and in the basement, we'll see.
 
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Old 01-28-16, 03:51 AM
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I'm also not sure how I would make up for the extra height, and width since 96"/44" seems fairly tall and wide. Build small walls on the sides and top? If I'm being completely honest, I'm also kind of paranoid about electrical hiding behind walls on an old house like this
Framing to fit a door at the top is no different than framing at the bottom other than there is less to do and you have the height where you can use a prehung door. The biggest challenge would be to match the wall covering although a different wall covering could look ok. There shouldn't be any issues with hidden electrical wires if the fasteners you use aren't longer than needed.
 
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Old 01-28-16, 05:39 AM
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Door

I failed to mention in my previous post that you need to take measurements at the top of the stairs to determine the largest door that would have room to swing completely open. (width of hallway if that is what is at the top of the stairs)
 
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Old 01-28-16, 06:54 AM
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A door at the bottom will be nothing but trouble. Either install it at the top....
Agree the door should be at the top of the stairs, opening inward. You want the basement closed off from the upstairs, not the stairwell closed off from the basement.

Height issues aside (which is going to be a problem with head clearance), the bottom is not an ideal location for a door.
 
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Old 01-29-16, 02:01 AM
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The width of the hallway at the top of the stairs is 44". I was a little worried about how much space there would be in that small hallway with a door opening. I think if I were to stagger the door to the side, and maybe go with a 32" door I'd be fine.

Now I'm warming up to an idea I had ruled out in the past. After you go up the basement stairs, you can take a left into the kitchen, or walk into the mudroom next to the garage. As of right now, the opening into the kitchen is around 27.5" x 77.5". Tonight when I was painting, I took off the molding around the doorway since I will probably replace it. That's when I noticed that there are boards roughly 1" thick around the top and sides of the doorway. So if I were to take out those boards, and maybe remove the laminate flooring from that spot, I might be able to squeeze a 28" x 78" prehung door in there. I was also a little worried because that area of the kitchen is a bottleneck already as it is, and I thought it would be even worse with a door opening there. Tonight I took a 28" x 77" door off the hinges and put it in that opening (leaning slightly to the left to stay upright), and I think the opening wouldn't be too bad. So just something else that I'm thinking about at the moment. Name:  from.basement.stairs.jpg
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Old 01-29-16, 02:18 AM
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Most people won't like the idea but I'll mention an accordion door anyway.
 
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Old 01-29-16, 05:54 AM
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Doors

Are you saying that you will need to install two doors to close off the stairwell? This is the way it appears to me from your recent photos.
 
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Old 01-29-16, 09:04 PM
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No, I'm just thinking of an alternate location for the door. Initially I was thinking about at the bottom or top of the stairs. Now I'm thinking about putting the door in the kitchen, near the stairs that go down into the basement. That would still accomplish what I want to do. The white door I took from another location and just leaned there to see if it would fit, and how close it comes to the counter top on the left side of the picture. That way, not only would the basement be separated from the rest of the house, but the mudroom and landing at the top of the basement stairs would be too. So that idea is appealing to me, since it gets pretty cold in the mudroom since there is a door to the garage there, and a door to an outside porch. There use to be a steam radiator in the mudroom, but the previous owner removed it, so there is no longer a heat source in the mud room. Call me crazy, but I'm actually thinking about a slab door inside that kitchen entryway where the white door is propped up. I know it's harder to do it that way than a prehung door, but slab doors are pretty cheap so I might just give it a try..
 
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Old 01-30-16, 05:19 AM
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I've installed quite a few [for a non carpenter] slab doors but most of them were in mobile homes where a prehung wouldn't fit. If there is room for a prehung it is the only way to go! By the time you buy/make the jamb and get the casing and door stop I doubt you've saved any money and have spent a lot more time
 
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Old 01-30-16, 06:22 AM
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I wouldn't put a 28" door in, as Pulpo mentioned, anything big... a couch or recliner... would probably never fit. I recently moved into an apartment with 30" doors and it was nearly impossible to get the big stuff in.

I'd be looking into the possibility of using ALL the available space for a larger door... 32" if possible... 36" would be ideal. Might require a new header but IMO it would be worth it. How wide is the door in the background? Assuming thats an exterior door, it would make sense if the basement door matched it's width.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/at...ent.stairs.jpg
 
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Old 01-30-16, 08:21 AM
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I have to agree with Sleeper, as always. It makes no sense to install a narrow door when you have the available opening to install a wider door.
A 28" door would be enough of a problem if it was a straight shot into the kitchen, you are making a turn which is a whole lot worse.
 
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Old 01-31-16, 01:59 AM
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I just wanted to say thank you once again for the replies. I'm a very indecisive person, and I don't want to drive you guys crazy with the fact that I can't make up my mind on what to do. To someone with more experience with this, I'm sure it would be an easier decision and they would just do it. But since I have never done this, and I have a few other projects I'm working on, that gives me more time to overthink this which can be good and bad.

Xsleeper - That's the door to the garage you can see, which is 32" wide. If I were to install a door at the top of the stairs, I was thinking 32" since that's the width of the basement stairs where the chimney is, the width of the garage door, and also because that provides extra room to open the door when you are standing in front of it, in the small landing area at the top of the stairs.

I also checked recently, and there is no stud I could go into at the top of the stairs to the left. There is also no stud in the ceiling there, but I think I could access that area from above in the attic and put something in there. I attached a quick drawing I did to better describe what I'm talking about. How could I secure a door or wall framing on the left side if there's no stud there, just wallboard? There is a stud lined up with the 1st or 2nd basement stairs step, and then a 2nd stud about 4" or so into the entrance to the kitchen

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Old 01-31-16, 10:51 AM
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Door

You diagram is excellent.

I will offer my 2 cents worth.

Place the door where the landing joins the top of the stairs with the hinges on the left. Get as close to the stairs as practical. This becomes useful when you come up the stairs from the basement and need to unlatch the door.

You will need to build a wall to contain the door. Fasten the bottom plate to the floor and the top plate to framing above the ceiling.

Others may have better ideas.
 
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