Grandpa’s New Header

I should know better than to blithely agree to help out on anyone else’s home projects, but when your parent’s front door is so out of whack they have trouble opening it, you don’t really have much choice.  A house with “character” become a safety hazard and what must be done, must be done.

Big Brother T  certainly has the skills and knowledge to replace a door, and I am certainly able to assist. I took two days off from work with the plan to hang a new door — and several other projects as well. Ha ha ha ha ha.

We started the project by removing the old trim and located the existing studs. The house is not that old (1959), so it should be fairly close to code, right? Again,  ha ha ha ha ha.

Here’s a picture of the header. Can you spot the problems? They are multiple, beginning with the fact that the weight of the entire wall is resting on a one by.

And so, the door replacement project became the doorway deconstruction and rebuilding project.

Because we would be removing the header from a load bearing wall, we had to build temporary support to hold the weight. Day one was well underway and we were nowhere near the end.

Problem number two: why is nothing level? Because the front concrete step was actually attached to the sidewalk, which, after 40  years, was sloping away from the house. So Big T broke up the existing step, removed the fill and leveled it off.

Good thing we had a supervisor on site.

Here’s the new header.  A lot of hammering and lifting involved. Everyone will sleep better at night knowing the doorway has proper support now ….

Fast forward to the new door:

A lot of time was spent rebuilding the frame, getting angles to match. How can one side be level and the other one not? Sigh.  Measure once, measure twice. and measure once again.  I don’t remember how many trips we made to Home Depot because it was always something.

A full 3 days later my parents have a new door and I managed to hammer, drill,, and carry lumber around without a single injury or mishap.

I’m back at home, looking at our front door and wondering ….



  1. Backerboard, studs, headers, one by’s, subfloors. You’re reaching a whole new demographic, Jello Head. Very cool. Let me know when you’d be interested in a NC “vacation”–I’ve got several inside doors that don’t quite shut correctly….Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am glad you got the job done, glad you made it home and very glad that you included a picture of the supervisor. I was going to ask how he is…
    Hope you rest well.

  3. kudos to you, all the right terms, and a project completed with no injuries!! i am SO impressed!! now you need a maine vacation and a nice unnamed crustacean dinner! hint hint!

  4. I’m impressed with your home-fixing skills! As for the house being from 1959, I found my parents’ house had way more problems than our own 1912 era house. I think in the 50s they put a lot of stuff up really quick and not all that well at times. My parents’ house had cheap plasticky wiring of some kind that had started to fall apart and regularly shorted out light bulbs. Our house, on the other hand, had some electrical stuff not in code because we had knob-and-tube wiring, but unless a squirrel gnaws through them, the knob-and-tube really holds up rather well. DH found that it was in excellent condition when he dug into the wall to check it out. The previous owners had replaced a lot of the regular wiring in the 70s or so but our overhead fixtures still have knob-and-tube and we aren’t worried about it.

    When my mom’s house was sold the new owners gutted the whole interior and rebuilt it all inside. A wise move, I believe!

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