Tom Silva helps a homeowner install a new pair of basement bulkhead doors
Home>How To | More in Doors

How to Replace Basement Bulkhead Doors

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install a new pair of basement bulkhead doors

In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install a new pair of basement bulkhead doors.

1. Cut through the hinges on the old bulkhead door using a right-angle grinder fitted with a cutoff wheel. Remove both doors.
2. Use the grinder to grind off the screw heads from the brackets that secure the bulkhead to the foundation.
3. Pry off the metal frame of the old bulkhead.
4. Remove the header along the top of the opening, but don't disturb the existing flashing.
5. Mix up a batch of grout using a ½-inch drill and a mixing paddle.
6. Liberally brush water onto the exposed concrete foundation around the bulkhead opening.
7. Apply grout along the top of the foundation walls with a pointed brick trowel. Be sure to fill all voids and cracks.
8. Once the grout cures, cut and install pressure-treated 2x10 sills to the top of the foundation wall. Screw the sills to the house framing.
9. Fasten the 2x10 sills to the top of the foundation with masonry screws. Drill screw-shank clearance holes through the 2x10s, then bore pilot holes down into the concrete foundation with a hammer-drill.
10. Use a cordless drill to drive a 3-inch masonry screw into each pilot hole.
11. Install a pressure-treated 2x6 sill across the bottom of the bulkhead opening.
12. Cut the 2x10s sills to length, flush with the bottom sill.
13. Begin installing the new bulkhead door by setting the bottom foundation plate across the bottom of the opening.
14. Mark the foundation plate to the proper length, then cut it with the grinder.
15. Next, use the grinder to cut the two side foundation plates to length.
16. Remove the foundation plates and apply self-stick membrane to the top surfaces of all the pressure-treated sills.
17. Spray a coat of metal primer onto the fresh-cut ends of the foundation plates.
18. Set the foundation plates on top of the pressure-treated sills.
19. Apply a thick bead of silicone sealant along the flashing at the top of the opening.
20. Slide the bulkhead's metal header underneath the flashing, then press it down into the silicone sealant.
21. Set the doorframe on top of the foundation plates and secure it with nuts and bolts.
22. Drill pilot holes through the foundation plates, then secure the doorframe with sheet-metal screws.
23. Use a utility knife to trim off the excess flashing across the top of the bulkhead doors.
24. Apply a bead of silicone sealant across the header, directly beneath the flashing. Press the flashing down into the sealant.
25. Install the two bulkhead doors. Close the doors and check to confirm they're square in the opening. If not, adjust the doorframe.
26. Once satisfied with the fit of the doors, finish screwing down the doorframe.
27. Attach the torsion springs to the inside of each door.
28. Apply silicone sealant around the inside and outside perimeter of each door.
29. Spray primer onto each exposed screwhead.
30. Protect the new bulkhead doors with a coat of exterior-grade oil-based paint.


TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.