A Day in the Life
Fun fact: A.B.E. Doors & Windows doesn’t subcontract any of our installations to anyone on the outside. Everyone who works here, works only here, including me!
After working at A.B.E. Doors & Windows for four years, I finally got to take a field trip out of the office and into the field. I was invited along with two of our technicians who were installing a brand-new Provia entrance door with two sidelights. Our day began at 7AM. We met at the warehouse where the guys loaded up the well-packaged entrance door into their truck and met with the salesperson who sold the door originally. I listened to them discussing the ins and outs of what to expect at the install today, going over pictures that the salesperson had taken and asking questions.
After that, we headed out from the warehouse with only a pit stop for coffee. Once we reached the jobsite, we all introduced ourselves to the homeowner. I volunteered what I was doing there and she accepted me right along with the guys. Jim and Nick started by scoping out the area that they would be installing in, asking to remove a large picture that was hung above the door so they wouldn’t risk it falling. They laid down a Floor Protector both inside and outside.
Before starting on anything else, Jim and Nick first unloaded the door unit, opened the big box, and measured the unit themselves. Everything comes with a printed label that indicates what should be in the box and what its specs should be, but it never hurts to double check. After all, we want to be certain that what we ordered is what’s in the box before any removal begins. After measuring the new door, Jim and Nick removed the interior trim and measured the old door. Then, they had the customer walk out to the curb with them and take a look at the new door, just to make sure they were happy with it.
Once that was completed, the real fun began. Well, I say the real fun, but pulling out the old door was much less exciting than I personally expected. It was quite the sedate affair. First, they removed the door blank itself so that they only had the two sidelights in place. With the inside trim already removed for measuring, they positioned a saw in the gap around the frame and cut the screws and nails securing the old door. Then, it was a matter of wiggling the sidelight until it gave up and popped out, kind of like removing a loose tooth.
There’s something weirdly unsettling about a house with no front door. It was just a maw of studs. Jim and Nick started prepping for install whereupon I realized that putting in a new door isn’t so much about the door as it is about the opening. Jim and Nick spent a lot of time making the opening as square as they could. They trimmed back some drywall and shaved off some exterior plywood that had sunken down slightly from years of the house settling. They checked out the brick threshold and prepared some shims for the few uneven bricks so the door would sit level. Retrofitting something is very different from building a brand new house because things change and shift over the years. Our techs are pros at working with irregularities since that’s our specialty.
Once they had the opening prepared to their satisfaction and had done their first round of cleaning-up, Jim and Nick took a break before psyching themselves up to carry the new door unit across the lawn. It was unfortunately drizzling on us most of the day so the grass was slippery. I never really appreciated what it would be like to spend the day outside of the nice warm office. However, the weather didn’t bother Jim and Nick. They took it slow and easy and set the new door into the opening from the outside. While Jim held it steady, Nick headed around the house and in through a backdoor to line it up from the inside. Once the door was almost in place, they ran a few long screws to hold it—kind of like how a seamstress would pin fabric before sewing.
Then, they started adding shims around the sides and adjusting the “reveal” of the door. The reveal is the little gap that shows around your door when it’s closed. Think about how that looks. You want it to be the same distance on all sides so the door itself doesn’t scrape when opening and closing. They moved the door by what looked like millimeters to me, but Jim and Nick knew exactly what they were doing. Before long, that door looked like it had been made to fit on that home (which it had been since Provia custom-makes everything for us).
With the door secured in its new home, Jim and Nick split up—one working inside and the other outside. Inside, Nick filled the minor gaps around the door with spray foam insulation. It expanded once sprayed, filling every nook and cranny. Then, he replaced the original trim and ran a new line of caulk around the edge. Outside, Jim sprayed a second hit of insulating foam. I’ve never seen a door look so snug. (That foam is very cool!)
With that finished, the install became all about making the door look beautiful. Jim covered the exposed bit of “house” that had once been hidden behind wood trim with smooth new aluminum capping. The benefit to capping over trim is that it will never rot. Once the capping is in place, it has to be secured with trim nails that match its color. I was shocked by how much consideration our techs put into where they would place each nail and how they would cut each corner of capping for the least-noticeable seam. They applied as many nails as they felt was necessary to secure the trim while also being mindful that you would be able to see the nails. Then, they touched up the heads with white paint so they would blend in.
The final step was caulking the top, sides, and bottom threshold. Again, I was surprised by the consideration that was put into choosing which color would go where. I thought it would be a no brainer—white all the way around the edge, right? Well, I would be wrong. Instead they chose a kind of opaque clear for the sides so that it would complement the pale brick and used white only for the top where the header was already white and therefore would blend in perfectly.
After that, all we had left to do was clean up. Unfortunately, our vacuum decided it would not like to suck anything and the rain had made everything pretty wet, but the guys did their best to get everything in the endless drizzle. Rolling up the floor protector did a lot to contain the mess, but there was still some stray debris that we had to wipe up. Once we had cleaned up, Jim spent some time going over the door with the customer. He gave her a basic rundown of a few features, like the self-adjusting threshold and the hardware. Then, he handed over the keys and some touch up paint that came along with the door. We said our goodbyes to the homeowner and that was the end of our install.
Starting at 7AM and ending around 3PM, the total installation had taken about seven hours when accounting for our lunchbreak. It was a very long day in the wet and the cold, but Jim and Nick were good sports. They didn’t complain and they made the best of the weather. Having work done on your house can be nerve-wracking, but I can assure you that you’re in good hands with A.B.E. Doors & Windows.