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Interior Door Construction/Hanging Costs

GBSteve's picture

Finishing up the door replacement part of our remodel and want to run some costs by everyone and see what your thoughts are. Expensive to me, but maybe a pro could justify this...or looking for another shop/installer.

Received quotes for 15 new interior doors, 2-0 to 3-0 by 8-0 sizes.  Solid core flush doors in quartersawn walnut.  5 swing, 2 pocket, 8 bifold.  New jambs on swing and pocket track and hardware on the pocket doors as well.  Jambs are a standard applied-stop design.

Local shop is making the doors by veneering over MDF Hardboard base door.  New jambs and casing from hardwood (3/4" x 4 1/2").  Bifold doors need no casing or jambs.

Doors with finishing are $980/ea.  Jambs and casing with finishing are $600/ea.  Install is $525/ea (includes removing and disposing of existing slabs and re-framing needed, even on the pockets).

All together this seems high to me, especially the install labor (well, everything seems high).  

Considering hardware is additional beyond the above costs ($200/ea swing door for levers and locks, $350/ea pocket door for new track and pulls/locks, $250/ea bifold for new track and pulls).  

Yes, the sliding door hardware is expensive...using Ducasse since I want quality and don't ever want to have problems like the current HD-special track/carriages. All levers and pulls are stainless...makes the wife happy and really does match the rest of the "decor".  I should note the pocket door install does not include patching sheetrock where some is removed to replace the track.

Any thoughts?  The shop is non-negotiable on any of the above costs, but I do have the option of telling them "no thanks", or using someone else for installing.  We have another quote for the same doors, but from an out-of-state shop.  With $2,100 in freight included, they are at $14,250 for the above 15 doors, but no hardware or install costs in that number.  As you can see above, the local shop is at $23,000+ for the same line items.

It sounds like you have (post #207078, reply #1 of 11)

It sounds like you have champagne tastes.  The price of install goes up with the price of the door, since they are heavier and you expect a more precision job, plus they must cover themselves in case of an "oops".

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Yes, we hate Exxon (post #207078, reply #2 of 11)

Yes, we hate Exxon.


Margins (post #207078, reply #3 of 11)

Yes, we hate Exxon.  They make an unGodly 6% profit margin or about 22 cents per gallon of gas.  And yet a guy can make $525 hanging a door.  Hmm.  My gosh, if it took a guy an entire day to hang one door he would be making great living.  No, a fabulous living.  And please don't tell me about his overhead, what a pick-up truck or van and a few thousand dollars in tools?  And yet it is Exxon who is screwingg us.  Of course charge what the market will bare, right?  All heads are nodding, right? 

I will pray for you.  Shop around.  $525 is crazy.


Installing doors in remodels (post #207078, reply #4 of 11)

Installing doors in remodels is a barrel of monkeys at times but I can add a few thoughts from a remodelers point of view.

There are a few things unrelated to your house that can dramatically increase quoted costs.  If you sound demanding, you will get a premium placed on your order automatically since the company has a good idea you'll be more upset by small items that arean't perfect, and there will be in both the doors and the installs.  Perfection is expensive.   Maybe this company only does top of the line work and what they are offering is not out of line for the qualtiy of work.  They may be busy and don't want additional work unless they make more on the job than usual - few companies will turn away work, but they will overprice some jobs if they are booked.  The location of the job, something you said, or some other reason may make a salesman think you'll pay the amount they asked, overpriced or not.

It could also be that the neighborhood you live in is known for houses that are a bear to work on.

Often what you're going to get are solid core doors that they have put an additional layer of veneer on.  The price of a solid core door is pretty cheap.  Veneer is pretty cheap.  Finishing what you have described is pretty cheap.  Solid quartersawn wood is not so cheap.  Materials per door are less than $200 and there is probably less than $200 in labor total per door.  So a reasonable price would be $500 per door minimum prefinished.  Jambs are probably reasonable in the $400 range as a minimum.

A good finish carp can install and case about two doors in a remodel per day.  Depending on the shop's expeses and labor rates that's probably $300ish minimum, or $150 per door including tearing out and disposing of the old doors.

If that contractor is overpriced is up to you to determine.  My guess is you are paying more than you have to for a shop with a good name.  The downside to a shop with the low price is that their work may or may not be crap and you'll pay half the price for crappy doors that will never work or look right.

Do your homework and ask cabinet shops and contractors who they recommend (and understand that any recomendation is based on work done for that person and NOT for subs always do good work for me, but I have seen it time and time again that if they think a client is less detail oriented than me their quality goes down) and actually follow up on past clients to see what kind of work they are capable of.  Contractors stick with the same subs because we can tell what we're going to get, you need to check on a number of past clients or you are shooting in the dark.  Talk is cheap.



If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

Difficult to me a consumer (post #207078, reply #6 of 11)

You highlighted teh difficulty of being a consumer, which is one major reason I do so much of my own work, very well.  It is so hard to know what a "fair" price is, and what you will get from the contractor in the end.  No slam on contractors, but everyone admits not all are created equal.


This is why a good contractor (post #207078, reply #7 of 11)

This is why a good contractor with a solid record of happy clients is worth every penny :)

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

Not to get your hopes up, but (post #207078, reply #5 of 11)

Not to get your hopes up, but there are small cabinet makers and wood workers all over the place who do great work for cheap - they are hard to find but once you find a keeper they can save you a huge amount.  Contractors don't always use these guys because they have limited schedules and turn around times are long, sometimes very long.

If you are flexible and don't need them right away this is what I'd do.   One job we had custom arch top oak doors with jambs installed and finished for less than $300 per door.   The cabinet maker makes doors as a filler job between cabinet jobs just to pay bills.  Having said that he did take 6 months to make our 12 doors!  lol   

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

interior doors (post #207078, reply #8 of 11)

What state are you located in, and what is the "out of state" show you are mentioning, if you don't mind my asking (because I have a similar investigation for a project I'm doing currently).

My baseline is TruStile doors which you can get through their dealer network, which is widespread - although I have not quoted my current project yet, based upon a conversation with my rep I anticipate the units I am after will be +/- $800 pre-hung and drilled from them, and my carpenters will install them and build the casing most likely. These will be MDF core doors with a veneer, and they have many woods and styles to choose from (a dozen or more they call "standard", including walnut but not quarter sawn I expect). Price could change a lot with options, which are extensive - this was for 1 3/4" bu they offer thiner and thicker as well.

However, I'm pricing this job out with a local cabinet maker (Philadelphia) who specializes in doors (using an engineered core) and who I anticipate will make a nicer product, but don't have any numbers yet. It isn't that there is anything wrong with the TruStiles, they are as good of a manufacturer product as I am familiar with, but I can likely get more careful wood selection and a better finish from a real cabinetmaker, based upon my experience in cabinets, but at a bit of a premium. Since this job will use Walnut or Mahogany, that is important as the wood variation can be significant and there are many types of woods they call "mahogany" that are not at all equal, but if I was using something like quarter sawn white oak I'd be less concerned.

I've never seen quartersawn Walnut, but now you have me interested and I'm looking into that too.

Since there are a lot of (post #207078, reply #9 of 11)

Since there are a lot of veneers used in these doors I can't help but to throw out something about veneer glues.   I used to not put much thought into this other than conversations between cabinet makers who often use contact adhesive, and furniture makers who often use a press and more traditional glues.

A large bar I rebuilt a few years ago needed an additional 60' added on so I had a chance to work with the original construction from probably the 80's, what I did two years ago and what I added last year.  Much of this kind of construction is what I call "casino-quality" and it looks good to customers, but it's not up to the quality normally expected in a high end residential application.  In these situations contact adhesive is normally used, as it is in many small door/cabinet shops.   The problem with contact adhesive is it's somewhat flexible so veneers can shrink or move and corners are more likely to lift and break a chip off if they are snagged on something. I was somewhat disapointed in the durability of some of the adhesives used.  I hate to admit it to the furniture guys, but I'm a convert. 

Some door shops will use contact adhesive, but personally it seems a much better product if it's applied with cold press glues and a vacuum press.  Added cost would be minimal - less than $50 per door.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

I actually asked about (post #207078, reply #10 of 11)

I actually asked about glue-up methods and they do use a traditional glue (no contact cement), however they do not have a vacuum press/bag set up, so sacks of sand are set on top of the drying veneer.  I'm told this is just as good, if not better than a vacuum press...  I don't know veneering methods as well as solid wood construction, but something about this doesn't feel right.

Getting in a slight row over some costs with them as well.  A previous quote from a few months back was around $400 cheaper per door based on building a one-panel, solid wood design.  No explanation for the increase, other than now we are veneering a flush slab.  Jambs are still solid wood...  Also note sales tax is added to every stage of construction, including installation. Labor is a service and is non-taxable, or at least that's how every other contractor prices things here. 

Yes, their plan is to veneer over a pre-made solid core birch or lauan door.  Veneer over veneer.  Edges are veneer as well, not solid strips.  For those curious, this is in Central Florida.  They are also busy...two month lead time for two doors...beginning to think, as noted above, they aren't terribly interested in the job, but don't exactly want to say "no" either.

A simple vacuum setup can put (post #207078, reply #11 of 11)

A simple vacuum setup can put about 10 psi on the door surface.  That's over 1000 lbs a square foot, which is more than needed, but it is very even pressure.   There's nothing wrong with sand bags if they are done right and it allows a small shop more production, but any areas without pressure (if there is a little extra glue) will get high spots where the glue puddled and when the veneer is sanded flat it may be too thin to look right (the person sanding is constantly looking for thin spots, but it's better to simply not have them.

In  case you're curious, a simple vacuum setup suitable for doing one door at a time can be had for $200 on the low end.....

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)