When I had my home repair and renovation business, I did this one 3 to 1 over any other outside issue.
Walk outside. If you have a garage, go around to the side door. If not, look at your back door. Bend down and look at the spot where the door frame meets the threshold (the metal piece that goes across the bottom of the door opening).
Now press that spot with your thumb. If your door is not under a porch or alcove and it is more than two years old, I’ll bet that spot is soft or rotten.
A few reasons. Mainly, your home builder was a cheap skate. See, most builders spend coin on the prominent features of a home—bathrooms and kitchen, flooring, and front door sets—and go bargain on stuff you don’t notice as much, like side and back doors.
Another reason is that concrete pad in front of the door. As rain runs off of your roof, it splashes off of that pad onto the bottom 12 inches or so of your door frame, wetting it regularly. And untreated wood no likey being wet.
Which leads to the next reason – door frames are generally made of crap wood. This is not a problem if the door set is covered and never gets wet. It will last till kingdom come. But the combination of untreated, loose-grain wood and regular wettings is a recipe for rot, even if the door frame is painted.
What do I do?
This is fixable, but it is a pain. Preventing this repair is much preferable, trust me. You can excise the rotten wood and replace it with waterproof material, but it takes some pretty advanced carpentry skills and, even then, it doesn’t look the best. I’ll do a separate post on that (or better yet, a video).
If your door frame is not rotten yet, you have two options to slow this down or prevent it.
- Install gutter over the door frame. You can do this yourself with minimal skill or call a local gutter company. They will want to gutter your whole house, but just be insistent that you only want it over that door. This is not a full preventative, but it will slow down that splashing. If you gutter and then caulk and paint the vulnerable section of the frame (on both sides) once a year, it should last a good while.
- Install an awning or cover over the door. They are usually canvas or metal. This will fix it permanently. It will cost more to have a pro install it, but in the long run it beats replacing your door frames every other year. And some awnings can be quite decorative.
Don’t wait around on this one.
Just like winter, if you have an uncovered door frame, rot is coming. Get out there and dry it up asap.