How to Install a Steel Bulkhead Basement Door

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON: Well it’s not ski season yet, but in Bennington, Vermont winter comes quickly.  So, Beth and Matt Smith need to get started on their last outdoor project for the year.   Hi, Beth, how are you?

BETH SMITH: Hello, welcome, nice to meet you.

RON HAZELTON: Ron Hazelton, Matt, pleased to meet you.

MATT SMITH: Pleased to meet you.

RON HAZELTON: What a gorgeous house you’ve got here and the setting and the town, it’s absolutely lovely.

BETH SMITH: Thank you, thank you very much.

RON HAZELTON: Could I ask you a really big favor?


RON HAZELTON: Could I get a cup of coffee before we start?

BETH SMITH: Oh, please, come on in.

RON HAZELTON: Thanks, I am dying for coffee. 

MATT SMITH: Well, Ron, this is our project here. 


MATT SMITH: As you can see.

RON HAZELTON: It’s rotting.

MATT SMITH: It’s in pretty bad shape, isn’t it?

BETH SMITH: Definitely.

RON HAZELTON: Let’s close the door, let me see the outside here.  This is all made of wood; this is plywood door and wood frame.  You know, we could try to rebuild this, but it is so far gone, I really think what should do is replace this with a steel door kit, which we can get at a home improvement center.  You know we can put this in in an afternoon, we’ll tear this one out and put the new one in.  So, let’s go pick one of those up and we’ll do it that way.  Okay?

BETH SMITH: Okay, great!

MATT SMITH: Sounds like a plan.

RON HAZELTON: The Smith’s bulkhead door was obviously in trouble.  The plywood was rotting or delaminating in many spots.  And there was indication of insect damage. 


RON HAZELTON: Removing the old door proved to be no small task, the nuts holding the door in the hinges had rusted.  We used a combination of tools to release the bolts.  You know, sometimes it’s just a matter of improvising, using the tools that work the best for the job.  Great, okay, the door’s loose.  All right now Beth?


RON HAZELTON: Can you grab that end, be very careful of these screws here, okay?

BETH SMITH: Oh, yeah okay.

RON HAZELTON: And I’ve got this end.  Just lift her out and we’ll go right over here. 


RON HAZELTON: Last one. 


RON HAZELTON: All right, it’s free.


RON HAZELTON: Now, we want to save this flashing right here, I am not sure that we need it, but it’s giving you the watertight seal here.  So, let’s try to take it out with doing as little damage as possible. This is a nail puller, it’s got a couple of sharp points right here and the way you use it is to set those points just on the edge of the nail, and we’ll take a hammer and we’re going to drive this underneath the nail.  You see, Beth, it is driving itself right up underneath the head of the nail, and we are just going to rock this back and pull the nail right out, just like that, okay?  Let’s try one.

BETH SMITH: All right.

RON HAZELTON: You got your glasses on?

BETH SMITH: I am set. 


MATT SMITH: There, I think we got it Ron.

RON HAZELTON: Looks good, excellent.  After loosening up the flashing, Matt and I used pry bars and crowbars to remove the rotted sidepiece from the concrete foundation.  Now the whole thing is coming away, good.

MATT SMITH: Okay, I am ready, Ron.

RON HAZELTON: Okay, go ahead and pull it out.  The old header also needed to be removed from the side of the house.  Okay, that’s it.  The sidepiece next to the house took a little more muscle to remove.  And, it revealed a big surprise.  Whoa, what’s that?  Holy mackerel.  Last summer’s hornet’s nest. 
MATT SMITH: Isn’t that something?

BETH SMITH: Oh my gosh.

RON HAZELTON: There are the eggs right there.  All right, this has come out very cleanly.  After a little clean up, the demolition is complete.  Let’s get the parts for the new one and start to put them in okay?

BETH SMITH: All right.

MATT SMITH: Very good.

RON HAZELTON: After reading the literature that was packed with the new door, we decided that the existing flashing could be replaced, so off with the old.  Under the flashing, we found even more flashing that had to be removed carefully, so that we wouldn’t damage the siding.  Easier said than done.  Boy, that’s a tough one there.  But we finally did it.  Thanks Beth.


RON HAZELTON: This is the foundation plate right here.  The first thing we are going to put down.  Now the three holes here. . .  Next, we marked the hole locations for the foundation anchors.  Using a hammer drill fitted with a carbide tipped masonry bit, we take turns.  The drill’s hammering action allows us to do this in a fraction of the time it would take with a normal drill.  Okay, let’s bring the foundation plate back up here now and we’ll line it up with those holes that we just drilled.  Now, here’s how we’re going to attach this plate, this steel plate right here to the concrete.  This is a form of anchor used for masonry.  There is a pin right here that we are going to drive in and as we do that, this split right here is going to get wider, so in effect, this is going to jam itself inside the hole.  So, we’ll go through both, both the steel and the concrete.  Matt and I placed the new right side plate against the house, and Beth who was getting to be really good with power tools, fastens it tightly in place.  Piece of angle line in there, that should be up on the, okay, and Beth if you can hold this bottom right there.

BETH SMITH: Right there?

RON HAZELTON: Right, now I am going to go back and on the side over here, we’ve got holes drilled.  Beth attaches the left side panel to the concrete foundation using those same steel anchors that we used earlier. 

BETH SMITH: Excellent.

RON HAZELTON: Just as we’re putting the doorframe into position.  Something tells me that it’s time for a break.  I hear ice cream coming.  Ice cream man!!  Ice cream man!! Go for it, I am going to have a Choco Taco.  What do we say, back to work?

MATT SMITH: Sounds good.

BETH SMITH: Sounds good.  Thank you.


MATT SMITH: A little bit up. 

RON HAZELTON: Up for you?




RON HAZELTON: And then, down.

MATT SMITH: Perfect.

RON HAZELTON: Installing the doors in the frame before the frame is tightened will ensure that everything is square.  All right, I’ll have to lift this one up a little bit.  Close this, okay, drop yours.  Good, excellent. Now, guys when we are setting this up here, there are three things you want to look at, you want to watch for.  We want to make sure that the doors open freely, that they don’t bind and that the space or margin between the two doors is consistent from top to bottom and also, this bar in here is flush with the foundation frame.  So, we’re in good shape.  Matt used a self-tapping screw to attach the doorframe to the side panels and Beth secures the new header to the house.  Okay, good, last piece of trim.  Boy, remember what this looked like this morning?

MATT SMITH: Oh, it was terrible.

RON HAZELTON: And compare to this now.

BETH SMITH: Unbelievable.

RON HAZELTON: So, what do you guys got down here in the cellar?

MATT SMITH: Well, we have some wine.

RON HAZELTON: You have wine down here, huh, really?


RON HAZELTON: Is it red or white wine?

BETH SMITH: It’s red, but we don’t know too much about it.

RON HAZELTON: You don’t know, you know, one of the best ways to learn about wine, is to go visit a winery.

Demolish That Rotten Wooden Basement Hatch and Replace It with an Efficient and Warranted Steel Bulkhead Basement Door

Replace a rotting wooden basement hatch door with a steel bulkhead basement door to keep out cold, moisture, and intruders and eliminate rotting wood that is a potential safety hazard and attraction to insects.  Home improvement stores offer several sizes of steel bulkhead basement door kits that are warranted for as long as 5 years and meet building code requirements.

Remove Old Doors to Begin Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Project
Step 1

Remove Old Doors to Begin Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Project

Remove the old doors as the first task in installing a new steel bulkhead basement door. Use a combination of tools and don't be afraid to improvise in removing rusted nuts and bolts on the old basement hatch doors.

Eliminate Flashing to Prepare for the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door
Step 2

Eliminate Flashing to Prepare for the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door

Use a nail puller and hammer to detach the flashing from the wooden hatch frame and house siding. We originally thought we needed to preserve the old waterproof flashing, but this new steel bulkhead basement door provides its own.

Demolish Hatch Frame to Prepare for Steel Bulkhead Basement Door
Step 3

Demolish Hatch Frame to Prepare for Steel Bulkhead Basement Door

Prepare for the steel bulkhead basement door with pry bars to remove the rotted wooden side frames of the hatch from the concrete foundation and the old doorway header from the side of the house. Clean up debris.

Position Foundation Plate for the Steel Basement Bulkhead Door
Step 4

Position Foundation Plate for the Steel Basement Bulkhead Door

Position the foundation plate for the new steel basement bulkhead doors as the first part of the new installation. Mark holes for anchors. Pre-drill with hammer drill fitted with a carbide-tipped masonry bit.

Secure the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Foundation Plate
Step 5

Secure the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Foundation Plate

Align the steel bulkhead basement door foundation plate with the pre-drilled holes in the concrete foundation. Hammer in masonry anchors into each hole to secure it.

Secure Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Side Plates
Step 6

Secure Steel Bulkhead Basement Door Side Plates

Place the steel bulkhead basement door's right side plate against the house and secure with screws. Attach the left side to the concrete foundation with more masonry anchors hammered through predrilled holes in plate.

Install the Door Frame for the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door
Step 7

Install the Door Frame for the Steel Bulkhead Basement Door

Position and attach the door frame for the steel bulkhead basement door. Ensure that everything is square and operates without binding before tightening the frame. Use self-tapping screws to secure the frame to the side panels.