Ask the Carpenter: Tips for protecting doors from Mother Nature

Ask the Expert Home Improvement
To protect your door frame from the weather, make sure all exposed wood has a coat of paint. Handout

Q. I love your column in the Globe and the information on your website ( I’m looking for advice on how to protect the door from my driveway to the basement. My house is a 1924 three-decker in Cambridge. We recently had a contractor replace the door. At the same time, they enlarged the opening, which had been only 5 feet high. In order to maximize the width of the door, we opted to stay with the out-swing orientation. The door is fiberglass with an aluminum sill, and the frame is wood.

The new door has weatherstripping between the frame and the back face of the door. The frame is painted, so there is some protection from the weather. The strike is raw wood, however, and the gap between the edge of the door and the jamb seems very exposed. Our contractor said this is how out-swinging doors are done.

On your website, you mention weatherstripping an out-swing door, but I couldn’t tell from the pictures how you did it.


A. I looked closely at your door, and it seems fine. It’s weather-stripped perfectly. To protect it, I would ensure that the door, edges, and jamb receive two coats of paint. Inspect once a year for paint failure. Also, make sure the top trim board has flashing.

Installing a gutter or roof over the door will ensure you do not have a waterfall cascading over the door, which will quickly destroy it. Plus, the sill is at ground level, so you will want to keep water from getting under the door’s edge.

The driveway appears to be pulling away from the support posts of this porch. —Handout

Q. We had our back porches replaced last year. They replaced the support posts, but the driveway seems to be shrinking away from them. What is the best way to fill the holes around the posts?


A. I would fill the void with crushed stone, tamp it down, and then patch it with asphalt or polymeric sand.


Q. An installer laid porcelain tile over ceramic tile in my bathroom because he was concerned that the subfloor might come out when he removed the old tile. The old tile was not visibly cracked or damaged. He put hydraBOND over the old tile before laying the new tile on top. There is concrete underneath the subfloor, and I am on the second level.

Should I remove the old and new tile and reinstall new tile over a new subfloor? If I decide to do this, how difficult would it be to remove two layers of tile?


A. It sure sounds as if your tile installer wanted to deal only with tile and was not concerned about proper installation.

I’m guessing that the “concrete floor’’ you’re referring to is an old-school mud job, which is a semi-dry mix of concrete that tile setters use to level and strengthen floors. It’s also used to slope showers to drains. Once the mix hardens, it can be tiled over. Usually, you need to remove the tile and then chisel the mud job out with a hammer drill and chisel attachment, which is labor intensive.

My recommendation is to remove everything, including the wood subfloor. Then evaluate the subfloor. If it’s in good shape, re-screw or re-nail it down. Once that’s complete, consider what type of underlayment you want to use, taking floor heights into consideration. (You’ll want to make sure your door can still open.) The underlayment can be a new mud job, tile backer board, or a tile decoupling membrane.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to or tweet them to @robertrobillard. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at