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Arched Wrought Iron Entry Doors

Construction How-To, Doors, Projects January 12, 2016 Sonia

Installing a Pair of Arched Wrought Iron Entry Doors.

By Larry Walton

Anytime you introduce arches, home improvement projects become much more interesting. An arched design often produces problems you can’t anticipate, so you can expect it to take additional time and cost more in materials. The same can be said of one-off, handmade custom components. Put the two together—curved and custom—and you have the potential for some serious challenges.

My brother the pessimist knows this, and his bids for these jobs often shock the homeowners. His everything-will-be-slow assessment is usually accurate, though, so we come out about right on estimated man-hours. For the project in this article, the materials were all supplied by the homeowner who was quite happy with the results.

The Project

This job entailed installing a pair of custom, wrought iron, arched entry doors that the homeowner bought at a home show for his new house, which was under construction.

Even if you never install a set of doors like this, you can learn some techniques that will apply to framing a passage arch or trimming a curved transom window.

We teamed up with the framers to get the opening within tolerances for the installation.

The job required an arch to be framed over the door itself, which the framers did quite efficiently by first tracing the door jamb on their sheeting boards, cutting it out and arranging short blocks to fill the gap between the interior and exterior sheeting.

The door transom was traced on a sheet of OSB to copy the shape.

The door transom was traced on a sheet of OSB to copy the shape.

Because the door builder was more artist than contractor, the jamb width didn’t match conventional wall construction. Typical jamb widths are 4-9/16 inches for 2×4 interior walls and 6-9/16 for today’s exterior walls. However, door shops often have to make custom jamb widths for entry doors because of the finish on the front of the house, and because these walls often have extra layers of sheer sheeting to meet engineering requirements. In this case, because of hinge design and the nature of curved casing, we decided to align the jamb so it would be flush with the drywall on the interior, knowing that we would have to figure out how to trim the exterior later.

Another factor on this job was the weight of the doors. They weren’t particularly big, but they were made of heavy metal and had active, swinging glass windows, which added considerable weight. Heavy doors require solid support under the jamb, minimal gap to the framing, careful shimming and fasteners that are both long and strong.

We noticed that the threshold for this door unit was pretty thin, so we planned ahead to build up the subfloor under the threshold to allow more room in the entry for tile and an entry rug.

Here’s how our team of framers and finish carpenters installed a set of custom entry doors that provide a distinct look and the added function of active windows for ventilation.