With the floor in, the first order of business is to close up the basement. I put in most of the new basement windows a few months ago, but we couldn’t put in the door until the slab was in, and we left the front window open so that it could be used as a makeshift door during the work. I installed the buck for the front window first. It was a rare case where I could put the box together first and then put it into place whole, instead of assembling in place. The issue with the front window is the outermost wythe of bricks is a smaller opening than the inner two, leaving a gap to either side of the window.

I got the buck into place and secured it with Tapcon screws. I’ve learned a trick with Tapcons (at least when it comes to brick). I use my rotary hammer to drill the holes using an SDS bit because it’s much faster than my regular drill, but then I circle back with the regular drill and the drill bit that comes with the screws because it does a better job of removing the dust in the holes, so the screws will go all the way in. I’ve actually sheared off screws trying to force them into holes that have brick dust. I also use my cordless drill with a spade bit to drill about a half-inch into the buck so that the head of the screw is counter-sunk, and I use the impact driver to actually put in the screw, so I wind up with four power tools arrayed around me, but it gets the job done.

Footing repair

Footing repair

I rebuilt the bricks around the back doorway when I was working on the side windows, but my masonry skills aren’t so hot and it wasn’t very even. I used the laser level with a vertical line pointing toward the house to cast exactly on the brick that needed to be removed and used an angle grinder with a masonry disc to straighten it out. I did this grinding a few weeks ago before the new floor was poured because the grinder throws a lot of dust that we didn’t want all over our new floor before we’ve stained and sealed it. Once the floor was in I needed to address the footer area below the bricks, because we removed the original stone door sill and the opening was wider at the bottom. I used mortar to fill the gaps at the bottom and let it set up overnight. I used the leftover mortar to fill the gaps on the sides of the front window buck.

With the doorway (mostly) even, I cut pressured treated 2×6 boards to build a buck for the top and sides, with sill gasket behind the sides. I used a router to cut dados from the side pieces at the height of the top of the door frame, since the doorway is a bit taller than the door. The left side fit great, but the right side had some sizable gaps behind the buck. I thought it would still work and screwed everything in place, but when I went to test fit the door I realized I was off by about a quarter-inch. I took the right side buck back off, and rather than grind the brick I planed the back of the buck so that it contoured to the bricks. This achieved the same effect and I was able to get the door installed.

There was still the matter of the rectangle above the door. Our plan is to cover the buck with PVC trim, and have a light fixture above the door. I needed a solid base to attach an electrical box, but it needed to be flush with the buck so that the trim would look right. I screwed some scrap 2x6s into the either side of the buck, recessed to accommodate the plywood. I used leftover pressure treated ¾” plywood from the first floor windows. With a little bit of adjustment I got it attached and screwed into place.

As usual, I still need to go around and seal with backer rod, caulk and spray foam, and I still need to get the deadbolt installed (once I re-key it). We’re planning to replace the satin nickel handle and deadbolt at some point with oil-rubbed bronze, but that can wait. These locks are ultimately destined for the garage (which we don’t have yet). This summer, once the PVC has dried out, I plan to go around and install PVC trim on the bucks of the windows and doors. For the first time since we bought our house, nothing is boarded up and we have proper windows and doors everywhere.

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