In almost every hardwood flooring job, you’ll be required to lay hardwoods under at least one side of a door. In many cases, the flooring that is being replaced is not as tall as the hardwoods that are being installed, and the door trim and stops will need to be cut to accommodate the width of the hardwood floors.
This article is part of our series on Hardwood Flooring Installation. We’re installing 1100 square feet of Brazilian Walnut flooring across the first floor of our house. If you’d like to follow along, subscribe via RSS or e-mail using the buttons at the right.
Determining Where to Stop the Hardwoods
If hardwoods are going to be laid in a room that transitions to another surface in an adjacent room separated by a door, the hardwood should stop half way under the door when the door is closed . This prevents a room from appearing to have another surface “creeping” under the door.
The picture at the right shows the proper hardwood transition location. You should consider any transition molding or other component that may be required to the new surface. For example, if you’re transitioning to ceramic tile, you may have to leave space for a rubber joint, a tile edge, or a T-molding made out of hardwood (the latter is a less optimal choice because it creates a tripping hazard).
Whether you’re going through the door completely or only part way through, you will need to address the door stops and trim, and potentially the jambs that make up the sides of the door frame. The goal is to make the wood fall underneath all of these components so the trim looks like it rests on top of the floor. This may require very precise cuts of the hardwood, and will likely require you to trim up the molding, stops, and jambs to fit the wood in.
How to Cut Door Trim for Hardwoods
Tools & materials required:
- Spare piece of hardwood
- Hand saw, jamb saw, or multi-tool such as the Rockwell Sonicrafter
- Elastomeric sealer (optional)
Step 1: Determine the height to cut the stop, molding, and jambs. This can be accomplished by setting a piece of hardwood on the subfloor next to each component and marking across the component with a pencil.
Step 2: Use a saw or multitool to cut the jambs, trim, and molding at the pencil marks. For this job we think the Sonicrafter is one of the best suited tools. It provides a very limited-vibration, accurate cut of the trim at the precise location required.
Extra Tip: Be careful not to cut the trim too high. Trim that floats above the floor just slightly will be imperceptible to you and visitors. Trim that is more than 1/16″ off the floor will have an obvious gap. While visitors may not notice it, you might! The goal is to have no gap between the wood and the trim.
Step 3: Measure and cut the hardwoods so that they fall underneath the stop and molding, and either butt up next to the jamb or go underneath it. We prefer to cut the jambs completely so that the wood can fall underneath them. Again, it is important to ensure you don’t cut too high to avoid a non-professional finish. This will likely require both rip and mitre cuts to get correct, and depending on board length may be more easily addressed with a jig saw than the combination of a mitre and table saw. We’ll cover using a jig saw, mitre saw, and table saw in a separate article.
The door jambs and trim in this house are very old, beat up, and haven’t been painted for years… So this picture doesn’t look great. That said, you can see how the wood goes under the trim (and you can also see a slightly imperfect cut towards the back of the door that is visible and will need to be filled with a matching wood putty or caulk — a less desirable solution). We intend to replace all of the doors on this floor in the next 12 months.
Step 4: Carefully caulk or fill gaps, if desired. If you’ve cut the door jambs or stop slightly too high, you may be able to run a bead of elastomeric sealer between the wood and the jamb/stop/molding and obtain a very clean finish that hides the gaps without revealing the less-than-optimal carpentry. We’ll cover using caulk to hide other flaws in a future article.
Cutting Doors to Fit over Hardwoods
If you’ve raised the flooring level with you new hardwoods, you will likely need to cut the actual door. For wooden solid and hollow-core doors, this can be accomplished by either of the following methods:
- Use a table saw to rip-cut the bottom of the board. This will require two people and careful teamwork to slide the door through the table saw
- Use a circular saw to cut the door, clamping a piece of wood as a guide near the bottom of the door to keep the circular saw from swaying as you cut. (Clamping a guide board is better than simply marking and cutting, since circular saws are difficult to keep straight for finish work.
No matter which method you use, you’ll want a high-tooth-count furniture blade to make the cut. We used a new 10″ DeWALT 80-tooth blade on our table saw to make the cut, which produced a very clean, tight finish.
Also, instead of trying to measure the entire door, make sure to measure from the bottom hinge to the floor. You can then use the same reference point on the door. This is more accurate, as it removes any deviation that might be present between the top of the door and the top of the doorframe.
What do you think? What tips would you add for working around and through doorways?
P.S. Stop back this afternoon for the first “sneak peak” at a partially finished floor!