“We had new hardwood floors installed, and now there’s a big gap between the bottom of the front door and the threshold. How do we eliminate that gap and leave enough room for the door to clear the rug?” —ANDREW RIEDL, MELROSE, MA
Normally, the finished floor beneath an exterior door is slightly below the top of the threshold. Your door was trimmed after the new flooring was installed so that it could open, creating the gap you mentioned.
The fix involves adding a new ¾-inch-thick oak threshold on top of the old one (to cover the exposed edge of the new flooring), trimming the door slightly, and installing a new door sweep that will make a tight seal when the door is closed while clearing the rug.
EXPERT TIP: Use a nailset’s tapered metal end to protect the wood from the final blows of a hammer. Its hardened, cupped tip keeps it from skidding off the nail’s head. The tips come in different sizes: Choose one slightly smaller than the head you want to tap down.
Steps for Retrofitting a Threshold
- Add ⅛-inch to the height of the threshold material, and set a pair of scribes to this measurement. Use the scribes to mark the door on each edge to create a cutline.
- Remove the hinge pins from the hinges to remove the door from the jamb. Lay the door flat on a pair of sawhorses.
- Using a circular saw, cut the door to the new length using the scribed marks as the cutline. Seal the bottom of the door to prevent the newly exposed grain from absorbing moisture. Rehang the door once it’s dry.
- Mark the threshold material to length by holding it in place, butted up against the inside of the door casing on one end, and marking it at the casing on the other end. Cut it to length with a miter saw.
- Find the width of the threshold by measuring from the leading edge of where it will sit to the depth of the door casing. Cut it to width on a table saw.
- Ease the transition by beveling the top edges of the threshold. Tilt the table saw’s blade to 45 degrees, move the fence toward the blade slightly, and pass the threshold through to bevel one edge. Flip the threshold to bevel the other edge.
- If necessary, cut a rabbet in the underside of the threshold with a table saw so that it may overlap the existing flooring.
- Hold the threshold in place and use a pencil to mark the cuts for a perfect fit. Do this on both ends of the threshold and cut them out with a jigsaw.
- Sand the threshold to make it smooth and apply a coat of sealer to prevent water damage.
- Squeeze a small bead of construction adhesive onto the door sill where the threshold will sit. Predrill holes in the threshold 3 inches from either end and one in the middle. Nail the threshold in place.
- Close the door to assess the gap under the door. Attach a door sweep to the front of the door with screws to close the gap for a tight seal.
To bridge the awkward gap between the original threshold and the new flooring, Nathan cut to size a piece of ¾” oak stock lumber, which can be found at any home center.
To help the new threshold blend in with the oak flooring, Nathan applied a polyurethane finish. While most finishes will do the trick, Nathan decided to use a Varathane Clear Semi-Gloss Polyurethane Spray, which is manufactured by Rust-Oleum.
The weatherstripping Nathan used was KC500 1-¼” x 84” Gray Triangular Gasket and Aluminum Screw On Door Weather Strip, which is manufactured by Simply Conserve.
- Safety glasses
- Ear protection
- N-95 mask
- Desired type of lumber
- Wood sealant
- Painter’s tape
- Construction adhesive
- Polyurethane adhesive