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james dulley


Quick-to-Build Garage Shelves Dear James: We live in a condo with limited storage. My husband agreed to clean the garage if I build storage shelves. I am a novice DIY'er, but I want to show him I can do it. I need some tips. — Marge W. Dear Marge: It sounds like your …Read more. Use Drain Cleaners for Clogs Dear James: Our house is not even 10 years old yet and we are starting to get occasional clogs in the drains. Do you think that the plumbing was not done correctly? What drain cleaners are best to use? — Patty H. Dear Patty: Without inspecting …Read more. Seal Blacktop Driveway Properly Dear James: Our house is four years old, and the blacktop driveway looks like it needs to be resealed. What is the best type of sealer to use on it, and are there any special techniques to apply it? — Jen F. Dear Jen: As with people, looks can …Read more. Add an Easy-to-Build Bedroom Closet Dear James: My clothes seem to be reproducing, and there is little room in the bedroom closet for my husband's things. He is threatening a trip to Goodwill. How can I build a simple second closet? — Joan Dear Joan: Building a second closet …Read more.
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Install New Decorative Interior Doors


Dear James: Our house is 35 years old, and I want to spruce it up. All the interior doors are plain flat hollow doors. I want to install some new decorative ones. What are the best, and are they difficult to install? — Cindy K.

Dear Cindy: Installing new decorative designer interior doors can dramatically improve the appearance of your rooms. A solid core six-panel door, natural wood or painted, will have a totally different look and feel. The substantial, quality feel on a heavy solid door is unmistakable.

Don't fault your builder for installing those old lightweight hollow-core doors. This type of interior door was the standard for most homes built in that era. Not until the last 10 years or so did door manufacturers begin to offer designer interior doors. Now they are commonplace in new construction.

Many home center stores now have special woodworking equipment to cut the holes for the lockset, mortises for hinges, etc. immediately. This can make your door replacement a one-day job and ensure that the new door will line up perfectly with the door opening.

If you are doing more than one door, write the location of the door on the old door. It is important that you do not get the doors mixed up because they may not all be the identical size.

Now make some very accurate measurements. Be on the side of the door where you can see the hinge pins. Since the latch side edge of interior doors is beveled so they can close without too large a gap, you must measure across this side.

Measure the width of your old door at the top, middle and bottom, and take an average of them.

The size will most likely be either 30 inches or 32 inches for common residential doors. Now take a height reading along each edge of the door.

The next critical dimension is the exact position of each of the hinges. Open the door and measure from the top down to the top and bottom of each hinge. Do not measure between hinges because this may just compound any errors.

The final measurements are for the lockset location. Remove the old lockset. First measure from the top of the door down to the center of the large hole through the door. Next measure horizontally from the edge of the door to the center of the hole. Take all these measurements to your home center and have the doors milled.

For a more experienced do-it-yourselfer, with a few power tools, consider fitting your own doors. Purchase the doors you need. Remove the old door and lay it on top of the new door, aligning them at the top. Using a sharp pencil, accurately mark the hole and hinge locations.

If you do not want to go to all the trouble of making all these measurements for each door and you do not mind being without your doors for a week or so, just remove your doors and take them to your home center or building supply outlet. Make sure to mark the top end of each door. If you do not, the bevel may be milled improperly.

Locksets are typically available in either a 2-3/8 or 2-3/4-inch backset (center distance from the edge of the door). Although your old locksets are probably 2-3/8-inch, consider 2-3/4-inch ones. The extra 3/8 inches means fewer bruised knuckles from hitting the doorframe.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about Jim Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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