Wood and water do not typically make for a good combination, and one place that’s particularly evident is around exterior doors. The bottom of the exterior doorjambs, which often sit directly on top of concrete patios or wood decks, are subject to extremes of moisture and insect damage. As a result, it’s not long before these vulnerable areas can really begin showing damage, and the more rain-, snow- or moisture-laden the climate, the worse the problem can be.

As with so many other things in the construction field, once a need has been identified, someone comes along with a solution. Such is the case with FrameSaver, a relatively new exterior doorframe that will work with virtually any type of door.

Instead of the traditional all-wood jamb legs found on most exterior doorframes, FrameSaver replaces the lower section of the legs with TimberTech, an engineered wood product made from sawdust and plastic. The TimberTech portion of the frame is much more resistant to moisture damage, insect infestation and water wicking than wood is, and the result is a doorframe with much better weather performance right where it is needed the most.

The TimberTech portion of the frame is joined to the wood portion with a securely interlocking system of fingerjoints, and is milled and finished smoothly with the rest of the frame so that the transition is virtually invisible. TimberTech can be drilled, nailed and finished like regular wood, so the door and frame are installed using shims and finish nails in the conventional manner. The frame is completely factory-primed, and is painted on-site using any type of paint.

INSTALLATION OPTIONS

If you are purchasing a whole new prehung door, some door manufacturers are now providing FrameSaver frames either standard or as an option. Also, if you have selected your new door at a door shop that does their own setup work, many of these shops can provide the door with a FrameSaver frame instead of a conventional wood frame.

If you are replacing the frame but wish to reuse the existing door, a FrameSaver frame can be purchased by itself – you then mortise and install the hinges to match the layout of the old frame. If that’s a little more finish carpentry than you’d like to undertake, if you bring your old door into your local door shop, they should be able to mortise a new FrameSaver frame to match up exactly to your old door. The door and the new frame are then installed into the existing wall opening in the conventional manner.

No matter which route you choose, expect to pay a little bit more for the FrameSaver frame than you would for a conventional wood frame.

REPAIRING AN EXISTING FRAME

One more option for repairing that rotted frame is to use a FrameSaver End Kit. End Kits contain two pre-milled TimberTech ends that are used to replace the old wooden ends of the frame. First, use a circular saw to carefully cut off the lower portion of the old frame. Your cut should be exactly perpendicular to the vertical portion of the frame, and you should have your blade set at a 45-degree angle. Next, cut the Frame End to the same length as the piece of old frame you cut off, and also with a 45-degree angle on it. Slip the Frame End into the bottom of the old frame so that the angled cuts overlap – these overlapping 45-degree angle cuts, known as a “scarf joint,” camouflage the joint much better than if you had made a straight 90-degree butt joint.

Install shims as needed behind the Frame End so that it is flush with the existing frame, and secure it with finish nails. Sand the two frames flush and smooth, then prime the entire frame and repaint it.

Frame End kits should be available by special order through most door shops and lumberyards, or off the Web at www.framesaver.com.

***

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