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Door queries

Door to window renovation


Question 1: 

How do I change an exterior door opening to a window? I have an exterior door opening that I would like to close up by adding a window in the space. (a) Should I use brick and mortar to fill it or is there an easier way? (b) How do I fit the new wall against the old? Do I have to use the old tooth-brick method? 


Question 2: 

My exterior roof extends to just about 50cm above the door opening mentioned above. Could I fill the gap with brick and mortar, or is there a better way to do this? The area is about 1.5 x 2m and will be used as a shower.Matilda Oelofse, Centurion


Sharl Bennie, our building expert, advises:

As you want to use the area as a shower I would strongly suggest that you build up the area with bricks and mortar, especially because it will probably be tiled afterwards. You need to install a lintel above the window and then continue to build up to roof height to close off the area. I would recommend that you tie in the walls with the tooth-brick method; it always seems to work best. Don’t forget to key the floor area properly by cutting into the floor screed before starting to build the wall, this helps to tie the wall properly.It is not really practical to successfully install a short piece of damp course across the doorway area, so I suggest that you use a 1 litre PlasterKey to 25 litres of water solution in the building mix. Not only will it bond better, but it will also help to waterproof the mortar. There are many other ways to fill up areas like the one you describe, most of which are not suitable for a shower. You can for example, use a steel frame with a steel plate, drywalling, Nutec board, glass bricks and an aluminium frame with panel. The main disadvantage of most of these methods is that they always look like they have been done as an afterthought or on a shoestring budget. 


Contact Sharl Bennie on 082-554-1921 for further information.

Wooden door maintenance
I live in a complex and all the garages have wooden doors. The body corporate is currently planning the maintenance of these doors. Would you be able to give me information on the best way possible to preserve these doors? Over the years varnishing has been the only maintenance done on them.
Alvin, Durban

Frikkie Greef from Woodoc replies: 

From what I gather, it seems that your garage door is in rather bad condition. However, just follow this maintenance procedure and the garage door will look as good as new!

As a first step, the existing finish/coating must be completely removed. This may be accomplished by stripping with a chemical stripper or by sanding it. If you decide to use a paint stripper, start by applying the paint stripper to the wood as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove all old varnish from the wood with the paint stripper and neutralise the stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If water was used to neutralise the stripper, allow the wood sufficient time to dry out thoroughly before proceeding any further. 

If you decide to sand, you can either use elbow grease for this, or use an electrical sander. If you use a belt sander, make sure you use a levelling plate with it or you will cut into the wood. Also make sure that you don’t cut over the grain. Rather do the large blocks with the belt sander, the long horizontal and vertical sections with an orbital (vibrating) sander, and the small grooves and finer work by hand. 

Don’t use sandpaper with a grain number lower than 80. Choose 80 to get rid of the current sealer, then use a 100 or 120 to smooth the surface and do a final pass over with steel wool. 

Once the door has been sanded, remove all blackening from the wood with Woodoc Wood Reviver. Once the blackened surface has been removed, wash down the wood with a hose and allow it to dry properly. If the wood hasn’t dried properly, your sealer will not last, so give it about 5-7 days in fair weather. 

Then seal your door with Woodoc 55. Alternatively, use Woodoc Deck Sealer. Both products contain a tint – the main difference is that Woodoc 55 is a high gloss product and the deck sealer is matt. 

Give the door three coats, with 24-hour intervals between each coat, and be sure to follow the application instructions on the product packaging. The first coat of Woodoc that is applied is of particular importance as the products are penetrating sealers and must therefore be applied to saturation point. Keep on applying Woodoc until the wood stays evenly wet all over, allow to dry and then apply the subsequent coat. Woodoc should be applied with a good quality brush and never thinned with anything before application. It is always good practice to stir the product often during the application process.

Woodoc outdoor products are formulated to biodegrade and disappear from the wood towards the end of their lifecycle. If you see that the wood appears dull and it seems as if small dandruff-like flakes appear on the surface, it is an indication that biodegradation has started in that area. Merely clean the wood well with steel wool and mineral turpentine, and re-apply the Woodoc product originally used as sealer. No further deep sanding is required.

For more information, contact Woodoc on 0800-411-200.

Door hinges
I want to replace a standard external door with a ‘stable door’ into the standard doorframe (at my backdoor entrance). However, I have a problem with the hinges. The existing frame has only two hinges and the stable door has four. What should I do, cut off or keep the existing hinges? And what would be the best way to fit the new hinges?
Paul Venter, Secunda

A Sharl Bennie, our building expert replies: 

A standard door frame has only two hinges and a stable door requires four hinges as the door is split in the middle. The existing hinges are recessed into the door frame and, if you attempt to install additional surface mounted hinges, the centre line of the pins on the hinges are offset. This creates major problems with the pivot line of the door and, as the door opens, it will be angled at the fulcrum and will not remain square with the frame. It just will not work.

The way around this is to cut off the old hinges flush with the frame and install four new flush mounted hinges on the frame. These are the same hinges that are used when doors are fitted into drywall frames. It is normally an aluminium hinge and the centre part of the hinge fits flush with the outer part. On standard hinges, the hinge flaps butterfly over each other.

The flush mounted hinges can be pop-riveted onto the steel frame and it is not necessary to recess the hinge into the door. I find that the chipboard screws, 4.5mm x 50mm long, or even a bit longer, work very well in the wooden door. 

If you do need any further assistance, contact Bennie on 082-554-1921.

Installing stable doors
I would like to know how one would hang a stable door onto an existing standard door frame.
Raymond, by email

Sharl Bennies, our building consultant, advises: 

Hanging a stable door is a bit more difficult than a normal solid door because the trick is to get the hinge pivot points all in the same line. It is all about the arc that the door swings through as it opens. If there is one hinge that is out of line, the door will either lift or drop as it opens, depending on the direction of the misalignment of the hinge, and this will cause the doors to crush against each other as they open together or alternatively the gap between the doors will open up.

Some people will tell you to try and clamp the doors together and hang them as a solid door, others will say you should hang the bottom first, and some say hang the top door first. There is no specific way to hang a stable door; you have to do what makes sense to you. Whichever way you do it, as I mentioned, the final result will be determined by the alignment of the hinges and the arc that the door swings through as it opens and shuts.

The hinges should first be fitted onto the frame with suitable spacing for the stable door set, and carefully lined up so that they are all on the same vertical path. I would normally only fit two screws into the hinge temporarily, in case it needs to be moved slightly – I even use thinner screws at first to do less damage to the frame and afford myself the opportunity of being able to do minor corrections to the hinges before fitting the final screws.

Make sure that the direction of the horizontal rabbet section of the stable door is correct; the high section must be inside so that the lower door can remain closed and the top section can be opened out. That is how a stable door must work.

Hang the lower section of the stable door, lightly screwed with screws that have a thinner diameter but not a shorter length – they still need to be strong enough to hold the door securely.

Lightly tack a strip of Masonite board on top of the rabbet section to act as a spacer between the doors and proceed to hang the top door. You can see if the hinges are aligned properly while hanging the top section by the gap that appears in the rabbet joint on the door. It just needs a little thought, watch how the outer edges of the doors line up when you put the top door up against the hinges and adjust the hinges accordingly.

This is difficult to describe on paper without causing much confusion, so again I need to stress that the success of hanging a stable door is in the alignment of the hinges. It does take time and requires a lot of patience. Unless you are very experienced at hanging doors, it can take a full day to hang a stable door properly. Do not try to rush the job.

Should you prefer, you can attach the stable doors together as one door – don’t forget the spacer and the direction of the opening – and then hang the door as a unit. I suggest, then, that you screw a couple of pine strips on each edge of the door rather than trying to use clamps. You can always patch the small holes that are made by the screws. Clamps are bulky – they make the door heavy and difficult to handle.

I hope you have success with your stable door; it is not as bad as it sounds, it just needs a bit more care and understanding, but it can be done properly if it is thought through correctly.

For further assistance, contact Sharl Bennie on 082-554-1921.

Door frame hinges
The area where the hinges are fastened to my bathroom door frame is rusting and the hinges are loose on the frame. This is causing the door to sag and not close properly. The bathroom door frame is metal. Is there a solution to this other than replacing the door frame?
Eric Whittal, East London

A Sharl Bennie, our building expert, replies: 

The only solution to this problem is to install flush hinges on an area of the frame that is not rusted; pop rivet the flush hinge onto the door frame and refit the door to the flush hinges.

Visit to view flush hinges required for your door frame.

Contact Sharl on 082-554-1921 for further information.

Sliding door
Where can I go to have a sliding door fitted to a bathroom between the lath and plaster walls or do I have to have it on the outside of a wall?
Rita Mulvaney, by email from the USA

Ed replies:
I am sure you could fit a door to run between the lath and plaster walls, however, this would be an expensive option as you would need to hire a builder and a door installer.

There are several options, i.e. folding doors made from vinyl and more stylish faux wooden folding doors, which fold in a concertina fashion.

New and modern space-saving doors include a sliding door that runs on the outside or inside of the wall, depending on the space in your bathroom. They are usually top hung and run on a track system which is concealed by a matching fascia. 

You also have the option of a bi-fold door for bigger doorways. Slide ‘n Space Doors have a DIY product and all the necessary items are supplied in a box. This is a South African-based company; for more information visit

I am sure you will find a similar product in your country at your local hardware store or Walmart.

Rusted steel door frames
We have an old home with steel door frames that are very rusted and worn at the bottom. We are not in a position to remove and replace them at the moment, so please can you advise us on how to repair the frames so they at least look neat and tidy. 
Desiree Rinkwest, Pinetown

Ed replies:
Due to the severe rust damage to the bottom of the door frame you will need to use a filler to patch the holes first. Mark Bell from Pratley suggests you use Pratley Putty Original, which is a hand mouldable, putty-like adhesive that can be used for filling, sealing, building up and bonding almost any rigid material, so would be ideal for your damaged door frame. 

First chip out all rust using a screwdriver and hammer. Ensure that the surface to be bonded is free from loose dirt, rust, paint, oil and grease and use a wire brush or sandpaper on the surface to enhance adhesion to smooth surfaces. Fill holes and build up using the putty. Have a saucer of water nearby and dip your finger or thumb into the water and smooth and shape the putty to the form of the frame. Once you are satisfied with the finish, allow to cure for 48 hours, then sand down using medium grit sandpaper. The product sets very hard and is abrasion resistant.

Should you need the frame to cure faster use Pratley Quickset Putty, which will allow you to paint the surface after a four-hour curing period. Just remember, the longer you leave it to cure, the longer it lasts.

Now the door frame is ready for preparation and painting. Before painting the door frame, remove all rust using Rust Beater from Hammerite. I suggest you remove all paint down to the bare metal. Once cleaned up and degreased, apply a coat of galvanised primer and when completely dry, apply two coats of Hammerite Metal Paint. Another option is to apply new Hammerite Direct to Galv paint directly to the prepared surface.

Contact Steven Hanson at Hammerite on 031-904-8000 for further information and Mark Bell at Pratley on 011-955-2190 for putty queries.

Another option is to apply Plascon’s Rusist to remove rust from the rest of the door frame. Use a steel brush to remove rust mill scale and, if necessary, sand down the entire frame using medium grit sandpaper. Wipe off all dirt with a damp cloth and allow to dry. The surface should be free from grease, oil and dirt. Then apply one coat of Universal Undercoat, which is a primer, followed by two coats of water-based gloss enamel, such as Duram Nu-Gloss. Water-based enamel is far easier and less messy to work with.

Cut a doorway
Please can someone tell me where I can find a company that can cut out a doorway with a type of chainsaw? It was advertised on TV some time ago; they drill two holes and put a chain through it and then cut a door opening without any trouble. 
Ines Benade, Pretoria

Ed replies:
The company was called Hole in the Wall and the product was featured on Die Nutsman TV programme. Unfortunately the company no longer exists, but the Hole in the Wall was a great invention so perhaps someone else may come up with a similar product.

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