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  1. #1
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    Default Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I have been hired by a national home builder to perform a limited inspection on a home they built 3 years ago. The buyer feels that the gaps around the interior master bedroom doors are too uneven to tolerate. The builder has replaced the actual doors at least 3 times. They have removed the trim and shimed the frame. They have shaved at least one door. They have replaced hinges because they squeaked. They have made a sincere effort to appease the buyer.

    The doors in question are pre-hung, masonite 6 panel doors in a $200,000 ~2900 sq ft home on slab. They are French doors into a bedroom. There is a loft outside the master bedroom. If the light is on in the loft, and the lights are off in the bedroom, the gaps around and between the two doors can be more readily observed. The gaps vary by 1/16 of inch around the sides, top and down the middle. The gap is larger along the bottom of the door that is most commonly used directly over the wear pattern in the carpet.

    The overall size of the gap is not in question. It is the variance of 1/8 inch so that the gaps are not 100% completely even around all sides of the doors. Anything less than perfection is a personal affront and an attempt to dismiss her. She is very indigant and not afraid to voice her opinion about how the builder is trying to take advantage of her.

    Does anyone have any pointers to any specific reference materials that describe commonly accepted tolerances for spaceing around interior doors?

    Personally I do not believe there is any way to appease the buyer. Her expectations are higher than common tract home construction. Probably higher than many custom built homes.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Typically, the gap left around the door is from 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch to allow for the doors to close without binding on the jambs and the door stop.

    I suspect the solution is not to keep adjusting or replacing the doors (although squeaking hinges are a sign is misaligned hinges which is a sign that either the install was not true and square and in the same plane, or, something has moved and misaligned.

    From your description of what the problem is, I would suggest two corrective actions, neither of which has likely been done:
    - 1) Move the door stop closer to the doors (or move the doors closer to the door stop if the door stop is rabbited into the jamb).
    - 2) Remove the door stop and install a slightly thicker door stop.
    - 3) (I know, I said *2* things) Do 1) and 2) above.

    The problem is not the size of the gap, the problem is the light coming through, so close the gap off or cover more of the gap with the door stop, or both.

    A 4th option would be to installed a weather stripped door stop in place of the standard interior door stop, if the gap is proper, the weather stripping will seal the light out.

    If she is complaining about the carpet area gap, which will continue to become greater over time as the carpet becomes compacted, then install a threshold under the door and a weather strip sweep along the bottom of the door to sweep down tight to the threshold. The carpet, of course, would need to be cut back to allow for the threshold to be installed under the door.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Or she could turn the light off in the loft when she goes to bed so she does not have to look at the gap. I agree that if all light is blocked out, then when she layes in bed, there are no gaps to fret about.

    I will suggest to the builder they consider a variety of methods to limit light infiltration.



    But still wondering if there are any definite texts that decribe acceptable tolerances for the gaps around interior doors.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Bruce,

    Check the NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guide -9-1-6 "When the contractor installs the door frame and door, the door edge shall be within 3/16 inch of parallel to the door jamb". At least it is some type of printed "guideline".


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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I stay away from people like that whenever possible. No fee is worth it to me.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I sent an e-mail off to the WDMA (Window and Door Manufacturers Association) asking them about that gap and any standards they might have, will let you know when I hear back from them.

    Sent the e-mail off earlier today, hopefully will hear back from them on Monday.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Im with Eric... back out..

    Best

    Ron


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    They probably sent the original door installer back to fix the problem. That was the problem. He did not know how to install a door.
    A properly hung door will have even gaps throughout, within a 1/16th tolerance. And they open and close smoothly without squeaking.
    And they can be installed this way in less time than a poorly installed door if you know what you are doing.
    So what you are saying is, does the price of the home dictate quality of workmanship? I guess so.
    Meanwhile, Juan has gotten paid for fixing the same door over and over and had had barbeques at his home from the proceeds, so why would he want to fix it right?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    The only "reference" to gaps in interior doors are in the NFPA-101 Life safety code...
    But, that's only for doors in a smoke barrier... (BTW: that's a 1/8th inch max...)
    Also, it only applies to occupancies the require seperation... (like tenant or compartmentation...)
    Of course, with a client like that... maybe that's what she's looking for... seperation from the rest of society... Sounds like she's bordering on a "Detention" occupancy, to me...


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Bruce,

    Here is the reply to my e-mail question about gaps around interior doors:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    From: Lowinski, Jeff [mailto:jlowinski@wdma.com]
    Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 11:12 AM
    To: codeman@AskCodeMan.com
    Subject: RE: gap around interior doors

    Thank you for contacting the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. Except for fire doors, I am aware of no standards for the gap or amount of prefit on a door, either interior or exterior, except as established by the individual door manufacturer. The typical prefit for the lock stile, hinge stile and head is 1/8 inch (3 mm) measured on the widest face of the door. A 2-degree bevel is typically machined on the lock stile, further reducing the width of the closing face approximately an additional 1/8 inch at the lock edge. This bevel allows for the door to swing clear of the jamb. There are no typical values for prefit at the threshold, since this prefit depends upon the threshold, bottom weather seal, and floor surface over which the door swings.

    For factory-machined, architectural wood doors, WDMA standards I.S.1-A-04, Industry Standard for Architectural Wood Flush Doors and I.S.6-A-08 Industry Standard for Architectural Stile and Rail Doors establish the overall width tolerance at +/- 1/32 inch (the measure of the door face, not the door-to-jamb gap). These standards, however, do not generally apply to residential doors.

    For fire rated doors, see latest edition of NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows for prefit clearance requirements.

    Jeff Lowinski
    VP - Technical Services
    WDMA
    Direct: 312-673-5891
    Cell: 224-875-5200
    jlowinski@wdma.com

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Thanks for all the opinions and suggested references.

    My client is the home builder. The homeowner is a satisfaction issue for the builder, not me. I was polite as possible to the homeowner.

    Yes, I believe that home price does have an effect on quality. A more precise fit and finish requires a higher level of craftsman longer to install. More labor costs. Better quality materials at higher cost.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Unless there is a defect in door or installation there should not be a visible variance in the gap. Given the price range of the home it would be tract construction quality materials with less than skilled installers.

    Are there noticable differences in gap around the door and where the 2 doors come together. If yes then advise the builder and suggest a solution, ie new door or send out someone who can do it right. I really dont think you should see light anywhere except at the bootom.

    A good way to fix customers like this is to ask them what it would take to make them happy. Put it in her court to define what is acceptable. Connecting a loft to a bedroom the owner may be having a problem with noise and light infiltration from the area the loft overlooks. If that is the case then this door could be of critcal importance to the owner. Are the doors hollow core then maybe a solid core would help. I would assume the over quality would be on par with tract homes and built to minimum code. Maybe the doors are easily being jostled by air and people movement so she gets up and looks the door over with a fine tooth comb looking for a problem. The problem may not be with the doors themselves but how they function.

    A lot of interior doors are under cut at the bottom so as to not interfere with carpet and to allow air flow either as a return air path or to equalize pressure. Given this door is to a loft there is no need for either.


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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I know this is an old thread, but I will way in for anyone else who encounters this same problem. Double doors are most likely to be the hardest doors to install. This is because the door needs to be plumb and level. Yes I said both. Not all single doors are hung this way. Not only do they need to plumb and level, they need to be plumb and level with each other. That's why most double doors get screwed up. Gaps should be even whether they are 1/16" or 1/8" and it shouldn't matter what the cost is of the house. I didn't see the doors, so I can't make a judgement on the quality of the installation, nor should anyone else. This is an interior door without weather stripping and obviously some light will be apparent.

    It sounds like the problem could be the doors not fitting tight to the stop, or to each other. That would mean the doors are out of plane. To check for this take a string and hold it in the top corner of one door and the bottom corner of the other. You will see where the string hits or where gaps in the string exist. This will reveal much about the installation and what's needed to correct it.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I always thought there was suppose to be a gap under the doors for return air Bedroom doors should have a gap between them and the floor below. If the structure has a forced air heating system with centrally located return air ducts. When bedroom doors are closed, the only effective path for return air out of the bedrooms is under the doors. A minimum gap of one inch below bedroom doors is recommended to allow an adequate air flow for return air.


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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Spermo View Post
    Bruce,

    Check the NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guide -9-1-6 "When the contractor installs the door frame and door, the door edge shall be within 3/16 inch of parallel to the door jamb". At least it is some type of printed "guideline".
    Bob,

    Is that reference with or without finish? Sometimes the finish can be thick depending upon the number of coats and the material used.

    Rich


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Me thinks "she's" got a different issue at hand, maybe she should look at a long drywall wall when the sun comes up.


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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Brody View Post
    Me thinks "she's" got a different issue at hand, maybe she should look at a long drywall wall when the sun comes up.
    GEEZZZ, don't give her any more ideas...

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Door Guy View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I will way in for anyone else who encounters this same problem. Double doors are most likely to be the hardest doors to install. This is because the door needs to be plumb and level. Yes I said both. Not all single doors are hung this way. Not only do they need to plumb and level, they need to be plumb and level with each other. That's why most double doors get screwed up. Gaps should be even whether they are 1/16" or 1/8" and it shouldn't matter what the cost is of the house. I didn't see the doors, so I can't make a judgement on the quality of the installation, nor should anyone else. This is an interior door without weather stripping and obviously some light will be apparent.

    It sounds like the problem could be the doors not fitting tight to the stop, or to each other. That would mean the doors are out of plane. To check for this take a string and hold it in the top corner of one door and the bottom corner of the other. You will see where the string hits or where gaps in the string exist. This will reveal much about the installation and what's needed to correct it.
    I have dealt with many customers like this and with explanation and proper work they can be hard to satisfy, but not impossible.

    I have installed thousands of double doors, and re-adjusted just as many from other contractors. I agree whole heartedly with the door guy. Proper install of double doors takes a skill.

    As far as the air gap under the door in a forced air home, you need a gap or a vent over the door for proper heat distribution. I have seen several homes with an inadequate air gap, usually the result is the doors close themselves when the furnace turns on and as a result the room is usually colder than the rest.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Something is drastically wrong here as the doors have been replaced 3 times and this lady is still not satisfied. Some one has already mentioned for yo to walk away. I personally would run! What good does it do you to inspect this when the contractor should have a professional door installer figure out the problem- if there is a problem. There are people out there that will never be satisfied. Since I am also a General Contractor and A Home Inspector in a case like this I would have custom door installer look at the complaint and not a home inspector. It is not worth your time.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by gene schafer View Post
    Something is drastically wrong here as the doors have been replaced 3 times and this lady is still not satisfied. Some one has already mentioned for yo to walk away. I personally would run! What good does it do you to inspect this when the contractor should have a professional door installer figure out the problem- if there is a problem. There are people out there that will never be satisfied. Since I am also a General Contractor and A Home Inspector in a case like this I would have custom door installer look at the complaint and not a home inspector. It is not worth your time.
    I agree Gene and I am also a Building Contractor and Home Inspector.
    Some people you can not satisfy.
    Pre-hung doors like mentioned of masonite to me means they were 6 panel molded doors and no mention if they were solid core or hollow core. A big difference in the final installation.
    The hollow cores are more apt to bow and not stike the frame door stops evenly shedding light like was mentioned.

    The standard gap size is 1/8" and the standard undercut is 3/4".

    If they want more than the product designed, sounds like a change order to me to provide a more expensive and better product.


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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by David Garton View Post
    I always thought there was suppose to be a gap under the doors for return air Bedroom doors should have a gap between them and the floor below. If the structure has a forced air heating system with centrally located return air ducts. When bedroom doors are closed, the only effective path for return air out of the bedrooms is under the doors. A minimum gap of one inch below bedroom doors is recommended to allow an adequate air flow for return air.
    David,

    Typically, undercutting the doors is inadequate for return air, unless you were to undercut the door 3" to 4" or so ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    David,

    Typically, undercutting the doors is inadequate for return air, unless you were to undercut the door 3" to 4" or so ...
    That is correct to an extent.

    Building America - Industrialized Housing Project



  23. #23
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I think I may have been married to her once. Nag, nag, nag.

    If your doing it for the builder, shes gonna think your being greased by the builder.

    Dont know about your state but mines SOPs don't address dimensional tolerances on interior doors. It just says to report if their sticking or out of square.

    Its not a submarine or an aircraft door. They tried to please her, but it sounds like she isn't going to ever quit no matter who says its okay (or not).

    I dont think they use dimensional tolerances in Houston homebuilding. It seems to be the latin equivalent of a cubit, except based on the size of each workers finger.


  24. #24
    archivoyeur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Smile and nod and get too busy to come back this year.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Interesting. This post is getting more traffic 18 months after the issue than it did when originally posted.

    The builder paid me and I have moved on never to hear from either ever again.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    You guys are ridiculous and should be ashamed of yourselves. Of course the gap around the door should be consistent and of a certain size if it's installed correctly by someone with good carpentry skills. Check with a master carpenter to find out what the standard is for gap size and what the tolerance for error is. I believe the industry standard for carpenters is 1/16" off. All the trades have guidelines like this for their craft.

    Last edited by sst360; 12-06-2011 at 01:09 AM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    I was taught that the uniform margin of reveal around a properly hung door when in a closed position should be the width of a nickle, no more, no less. Of course this was before we had pre-hung doors. As I've stated many times in the past as construction technology increased craftsmanship went in the other direction. For example how many of you have seen waffle marks on interior trim from framing hammers?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    The gap for forced air is only necessary if there aren't hot air and return vents in the same room, but if there's just one or the other, then it is necessary. Was just reading about that yesterday.

    I agree that double doors are hard to hang! 10 times harder than singles. Sometimes the framing is off just enough that there's no room to shim properly. Or with the prehung doors, the hinges aren't installed at the same depth. Just a tiny bit of difference throws everything when working with two doors.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    For example how many of you have seen waffle marks on interior trim from framing hammers?

    Or dents from the nail guns No pride in workmanship.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by sst360 View Post
    Or dents from the nail guns No pride in workmanship.
    Most guns have a rubber tip that helps with that, unless it is removed or lost... Workmanship on installing doors in my opinion is very important. Everyone that enters the house will see and use the doors!

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    I was taught that the uniform margin of reveal around a properly hung door when in a closed position should be the width of a nickle, no more, no less. Of course this was before we had pre-hung doors. As I've stated many times in the past as construction technology increased craftsmanship went in the other direction. For example how many of you have seen waffle marks on interior trim from framing hammers?
    Jerry, I would like to think your kidding about the waffle marks on trim. Your not really seeing guys using framing hammers on trim are you?

    The thing the bothers me is when doors rattle and the latch isn't adjusted properly.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Door Guy

    I wish I was kidding. Framing hammer waffle marks on both interior and exterior trim is "method de jour" now a days. What do you expect from folks who never got any professional training in an industry that desperately needs it? A “finish carpenter” is now interpreted as a carpenter done for the day.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Door Guy

    I wish I was kidding. Framing hammer waffle marks on both interior and exterior trim is "method de jour" now a days. What do you expect from folks who never got any professional training in an industry that desperately needs it? A “finish carpenter” is now interpreted as a carpenter done for the day.
    I like your quote, but I would call him a "finished carpenter" if I had some one wacking my trim with a framing hammer. As in finished on my job.



    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    What a lot of cross talk. The gap reveal should be consistent - no matter the cost of the door or the house. quality installation is the customers gripe and she couldn't get it. Blaming the customer for expecting a good job... shame on all of you who endorse that mind set. With the impossible customer you have to communicate as to what are the expectations --- and then deliver that. IF you cannot then you are not the craftsman required. Everyone expects quality no matter the cost of the mansion or the mobile home. on one particular job the customer greeted me at the door calling me "The seventh idiot" the builder sent for the double doors - a few hours later it was permanently fixed/ painted/ finished the repair. received a letter of recommendation for my professional attitude. The customer sent to everyone she had contacted prior to my arrival. I am not bragging - She was chastising them again. PS. the customer was impossible and the doors were not perfect when finished. PS. I should have run


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Tolerances to 1/16"? Plumb? Level? It could be hard to find a carpenter these days that can read a ruler to anything less than inch. I seldom see a level on jobs anymore or if I do, it's probably too long or too short for doors. It makes me wonder how many of the current carpenters ever look at their work product much less try it. Piecework has killed the skill level and care about product.

    I had a recent new home inspection just before the closing. No insulation in the attic, attic light junction box installed but no light fixture so the wires were left folded up in the box. The garage fire door 3/8 inch out of square. A laminate kitchen counter top was "notched" to fit around the 1/8" cabinet face frame. That same section of counter cabinet was too big. The counter top and base cabinet were flush to any entry passage into the kitchen; The center Island was built out of square and the counter top guy just slammed the top on and when they saw the trim of the island under the top stuck out, they whacked off the corner of the trim and glued a piece of trim in the gap left to make a soft corner.

    Interior door fit? If they close, open, and latch closed, I'm good. I do see houses from time to time where the installer really took care and all the gaps around the door are visually even. I would expect to see a nominal gap of 1/8" at the jambs.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  36. #36
    don agel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Ton of arguments back and forth. Not here for those, just to explain simple (perhaps not for some) installation of a framed door unit. (all the following comments are door frame prior to trim installation to give better visual picture to the reader) If the top of the door frame is level in the framed opening, and the sides are plumb forward/backward & left/right and the door in the closed position, we can start installing shims between the door frame and wall framing. While shimming the door the installer should be making sure the door remains in a level/plumb position. The carpenter's level and a tape measure can confirm the proper spacing and that areas were not over/under shimmed. Once properly shimmed the door frame is secured to the wall studs. (though some installers of split jambs try to get away with securing the frame to the wall only at the trims which will lead to problems.) Providing the shimming process does not throw the door frame out of whack in areas which need correcting before continuing on with the install, (which is many installer's downfall) it is time for the next test (tweak/twist). Never in all my years in the construction field and inspections have I ever found another person who knows about this test on the residential side, only the commercial end. (sad but spread the love to others so that they can learn) Now for this test you simply take string and tape tightly on the face/side of the door frame you are facing, without the trims of course but where the trim would press against. the first string will go from the upper left corner and connect to the bottom right corner. The next will connect from the upper right corner to the bottom left corner of the door frame. Easy enough eh? Now in the center of the door opening your two strings will appear to intersect at the center of the "X". If the door was installed correctly the two strings will be barely touching. If there is a gap between the two strings, or if one string is pushing against the other string then the door frame is tweaked/twisted and needs correction prior to installing the trims and calling it a day. So, if the frame is level/plumb, has been shimmed properly, and passes the tweak/twist test then all variances are out of the installer's hands and manufacturing defect may be present. This can also be confirmed with the handy level and tape measure. Unless very slight in defect I would still have to blame it somewhat on the installer who should have checked the door frame and door for warping and obvious manufacturing flaws prior to beginning the install.


  37. #37
    don agel's Avatar
    don agel Guest

    Default Re: Gap Tolerances around Interior Doors

    Quote Originally Posted by Door Guy View Post

    The thing the bothers me is when doors rattle and the latch isn't adjusted properly.
    Safe to say that the strike plates would need adjustment on door frames to allow the door to close and secure tightly. Unless the spring latch assembly is placed in an improperly mortised/bored hole, in which case still would be a door repair/replace rather than a latch adjustment.


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