Introduction: Recycle a Commercial Bathroom Door Into a Front Door

About: Technical Editor for two magazines. Software tester for the computer controlled electronic brakes of Locomotives.

This project certainly isn't done every day and it sounds a bit crazy, but I thought I could pull it off and I saved a $500 door from the Dumpster out back of the Plant where I work.

Step 1: Proposed Door Design

We saw this image on the Internet of a Door and we intended to use it as our guide when we purchased a new Kitchen door.

Step 2: Tools and Supplies Needed

With the right tools this job was fairly straightforward. Without them, don't try it!

5-3/8" skill saw
Reciprocating saw

Framing nail gun

Finish nail gun

Drill / bits & hole saws

Chamfer bit

Miter saw


Pry bars



Supplies needed would vary by your project. We needed 2x4's, 2x6's, pine trim pieces, custom cut 1/2" thick Poplar, oak stair tread, Oak Hobby Board, Deadbolt, cast iron door pull, 1" insulated glass, rubber door seal, Wood Glue, Silicone Seal, Brass wood screws, Birchwood Casey Cold Gun Blue, NASA Hi-Tech Radiant Barrier #85 paint, top coat paint and Amber Shellac.

Step 3: Make the Opening Fit Your Salvage Door

I was presented the opportunity to acquire our Men's Bathroom door from work with all its stainless steel commercial hardware including the auto closer. They were replacing the door with the exact same door and hardware only painted Black! Go figure!

So I obtained it and using the reciprocating saw, I enlarged the Kitchen door opening onto our enclosed Porch to fit the door. Then the opening was framed with 2x6's using the miter saw and framing nail gun.

Step 4: Hanging the Door

Using the stock hinges, the door was mounted in the new frame.

No it was not that easy, that thing is heavy and required 2 people!

Step 5: Construct a New Threshold

I took the Oak Bull Nose stair tread and cut it to the required length. Test fitted it then cut it to width. Then I used the cut off piece to glue and finish nail it to the Bull nose section, creating an "L" using small triangle supporting blocks as shown. This was needed because there is a small step down going into the Porch.
The assembled Threshold was then drilled in 3 places, the holes chamfered and the assembly was screwed in place with long Brass wood screws. The Brass wood screws had the tops wire brushed to remove any coating and dipped in Birchwood Casey Cold Gun Blue to instantly add 50 yrs to the screws appearance.

To take up the distance between the new Threshold and the existing Porch floor, I used a length of Oak Hobby wood as shown.

Step 6: Finishing the Threshold

The Threshold was finished with 3 coats of Amber Shellac to give it a vintage look because that is how it would have been finished 100 yrs ago. Then a rubber seal was installed to seal against the door bottom.

Step 7: Lock the Door!

The inside of the door does not need a door handle because of the commercial self closer. But it does need a lock. We installed a Yale exterior lock and had the bolt cut on a Bridgeport Miller to form a bevel. This bevel forces the door tighter against the rubber door seals as the bolt is extended.
The dead bolt body was painted with Hammered Black from Rustoleum. Although not shown in this image the screws were darkened with Birchwood Casey Cold Gun Blue.

Step 8: What We Had So Far.

The Dead bolt is installed as well as the interior trim and the auto closer. Although the adjuster arm of the closer needed to be lengthened to get the action correct. With the Porch air tight, you get an "Air Lock" effect as the door closes and the closer needs to over come the air resistance.

Step 9: Door Design Cardboard Templates Following the Original Design Concept Image

By placing the cardboard templates on the outside of the door, we could get an idea of where the window should go and how big it would be.

Step 10: Cutting the Window Opening

When we had decided where the window needed to go and the rough size, we taped the door off and using the 5-3/8" cordless skill saw, we plunge cut thru the tape to prevent splintering the veneer Oak top layer. And shortly we had a window hole!

Step 11: Following the Design Template in Real Wood This Time

The 1/2" thick Poplar strips were glued and 16ga nailed onto the Porch side of the door.

Step 12:

Note the window piece we cut out was reinstalled while we waited for the 1" thick special order glass to arrive. During the wait, we coated the door with the NASA Radiant Barrier Paint to act as a heat / cold barrier. This stuff really does work! The Radiant Barrier paint also gave the door a rough wood texture to enhance the aged look we were shooting for. We also located a vintage cast iron door pull and installed that with reproduction iron screws.

Step 13: Let There Be (a) Light!

The 1" thick insulated glass was set into a bed of silicone seal and allowed to setup. Then the inner window molding was applied. The outer stop was the 1/2" Poplar wood.

Step 14: Color My Door!

Benjamin Moore "Aura" Spanish Red, 1301, in satin was chosen as a top coat because it matched the Milk Paint Red on the Victorian Pantry Cabinet in the Kitchen. (see that instructable here) Satin finish was chosen to again look like the door had been there for years.

Step 15: "Yankee Door Catch"

In the early 1900's Sears sold cast iron "Yankee door Catch's". We still had a couple and one was re-purposed to hold open the Kitchen door. Swing the door open and the catch catch's the cast iron door handle and holds the door open during summer as shown. A quick pull of the latch and the catch releases and the door automatically closes!

Step 16: Finishing the Interior of the "Bathroom" Door

7 coats of Amber Shellac was applied to the interior to bring out that deep luster of the Oak Veneer. Why Amber? 100 yrs ago, ALL Shellac was Amber. There was no such thing as clear Shellac!
Ya I know a couple coats of gloss Poly would have obtained the same effect but Polyurethane was un-heard of 100 yrs ago. So Amber Shellac is period correct for an 1860 house.
And Ya I know, this door isn't period correct, especially from the inside but I couldn't pass up a "free" $500 door that would have ended up in the dumpster out back of the plant!