Thursday Doors – Garage Attic Access

New Attic Access Doors

Several months ago, I mentioned how I was beginning two “side projects” that had to be completed before a much-needed renovation to our garage could begin. Those projects were new access doors for the garage attic storage and a cabinet-style shed on the side of the garage. Let’s just say that life got in the way of the renovation, but the smaller items will be in-place when we try again next year. At least that’s the plan. Planning is one of those things I don’t get too stressed about these days. I’ve learned that the truly important things are being able to put both cars in the garage during the winter, and being able to get the snow blower out of the shed. I added that last bit because it’s the rationale for some door-making that became a third small project.

Accessing the storage space above the garage had become less important as we grew older, for a few reasons, the most significant being that whatever goes up there had to be carried, by me, up a ladder.

You reach a point where you become reluctant to schlep something heavy up a ladder. My research indicates that point lies between 57 and 60.

I said: “had to be carried…” because that requirement is in the past. I bought a hoist! It’s not quite like having a crane, but it’s as close as I get.

The existing doors on the garage had a few issues: They were ugly. They were hard to open, if you wanted in, but they managed to open themselves when you expected them to stay shut. That happened once while I was traveling, and the editor had to call the police department to come, check for burglars, and re-lock the door. I knew I could make more reliable doors, but I struggled with making pretty doors. Since these doors are on the only wall of the garage that faces the street, pretty seemed to be a worthy goal.

I liked the look of the doors I made for the access to the someday-to-be-second floor of our house, but those aren’t exposed to the weather. I figured that I could modify the design, and cover all the weather-facing stuff with PVC. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to attempt roofing and siding this year, I decided to add a window.

Once the doors and the window were complete, Faith came over to run the hoist and install the door from the inside. I guided it into place from the outside. Eventually, Faith will sandblast Pittsburgh-themed images into the window panes (look for an update, next year).

I wrestle with these posts, because some people like to see the process, and some just like to see the final product. If you want to follow the project, click on the upper (left) photo and start a slide show – the captions will guide you through the project. If you want to skip the details, click on a photo further out, or just look at the gallery.

This post is part of a fun weekly series called Thursday Doors, brought to us by Norm Frampton. You don’t have to build your doors; a picture will do fine. If you don’t have a picture, you can draw them or just tell us about doors you remember. I’ve seen people do all those things and Norm lets them all in. Follow this link to Norm’s place, check out his doors and then look for the blue frog. Click that little tadpole and he will lead you into a world of doors.


  1. One thing I feel confident in saying is that I will never have made the doors for my #ThursdayDoors posts! Wow. Those are really pretty, I’m a fan. I do enjoy all the photos of the process. I like the hardhat bit, too. Good call, Faith.
    I’m wobbly on a ladder these days, at least in the coming down bit. And that’s without carrying stuff. It’s a smart move to install that hoist.
    Nice share!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! Building the door(s) was fun. The hoist would have been necessary, even if I was 10 years younger. The doors weigh close to 200 pounds. The hoist made it so easy, and removed the stress of trying to figure out why they didn’t want to fit in the opening at first. My good hoist operator worked them in nicely. I’m glad you enjoyed the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! This project of yours is amazing! I can’t believe it’s completed by you and Faith, a team of only two. It looks to me like a five to six people’s work! Really well done! And yes good to wear that cool hat!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wahoo – a DIY Thursday with an update on your doors. I know, I’m probably in the minority but then again I think Tommy Silva is part of my extended family. :-) I applaud your skills because most of us would be going to a box store to get a door and make it fit our needs. You build them, and build them well. That’s why I love your DIY posts – I learn something. :-) Have a great Thursday. 🔨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. I did look at what was available, but there wasn’t anything that looked good that would fit that opening (only 65″ tall). Given that you see those doors when you look at the house from the street and especially if you pull into the driveway, we wanted them to look nice.

      I’d like to think Tommy would be happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Dan – that door does look impressive from the driveway – a great idea. Well done on getting it made and then the two of you getting it into place. Very clever – I’m impressed … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. oooh – I’m glad you did an update on your garage doors! As if building the doors was impressive enough, you had to add a window feature on the top. Nice!!
    It was very interesting to see the progress in the building. You make it look so easy – the sign of true skill!
    I was the most impressed with the grooving that’s done to make it look like boards. I would never have guessed the doors started out as plywood!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those doors are pretty and knowing all that you went through to get them installed, I admire them [and you] even more. Great photos of your project in process. I enjoy seeing those pics as much as the result.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dan’s got talent–perhaps the name of a new game show. But you do and it shows. The result is beautiful and I think a hoist is a great idea. Just pretend you’re in Amsterdam where houses are so narrow that everything large has to be hoisted up outside and put through the windows. :-) Now don’t you feel cosmopolitan?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I do! I am happy with the way the doors looks, and I was very happy to have that hoist when we had to install them. There is no way we could have gotten them up via a ladder. Plus, not having to worry about holding them up while trying to get them level was a huge bonus.

      Thanks for the comment, Janet.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great work Dan. I’m learning to appreciate pocket hole joinery, for face frames in particular. I used to be a purist about that, it kinda felt like cheating. Eventually I realized I was taking forever to get jobs finished. Now I go with the fastest most efficient method.
    The hardest/scariest thing about this post for me would be installing the door and squaring it up, especially off the ground like that. The hoist and a good assistant were great ideas :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norm. For the record, it’s a little bit of “belt and suspenders” on the construction. The joints also have biscuits and exterior glue, but I think the pocket screws would have held fine, especially with the plywood facing. Still, Compared to mortise and tenon joints, this was way faster. I like the fact that I can move ahead, without having to let big things sit in clamps for hours.

      My main goal with the hoist was getting the door up there, but having it hold the weight of the door while we adjusted the frame in the opening was a huge benefit,

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Terrific post, Dan. I like how you included all those pics, showing the whole process step by step. Anyone could use them as a pictorial manual for his own DIY project. Can’t wait to see the final etched glass; I assume that’ll be part of the update next year? I see the Penguins, the Steelers, and the trains, but could you tell me what’s depicted in the center pane? I’m sure it’s obvious to an area native (pretty sure that’s a bridge), but I thought I’d ask.

    And ha, that Steeler hard hat is a great touch. I always wear hats when I work, no matter what the weather is like. If I didn’t, my head would be covered in cuts. :P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Paul. That center pane might be a bit of a joke. It’s a crude sketch of “The Point” – where the two rivers meet and from the Ohio, with the city skyline behind and the stadiums on the North Shore.

      Given that the only choice Faith will have is to protect an area from being frosted by the sandblasting or open it up to be frosted, I don’t know how much detail she can include.

      I always wear a hat, but not always a hard hat. I was glad to have that on, because I walked up the ladder and right into the piece of 1 1/2″ iron pipe that holds the hoist.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch! I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know how heavy these doors were going to be, but that hoist was necessary.

      Thanks for the comment. Tell your hubs I’m sorry about the tools on display. I try to only buy stuff that I know I will use a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. With the whole process of the door construction, I like that! Some have no idea what work goes into making a door (heard the stories of hubby whose favorite work was to install doors and windows). Great post Dan. First I didn’t know understand this door was near the roof, but I guess you have experience with snow:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. There is a storage area in the attic space of the garage. I can get to it from inside, but this access is much more convenient. The doors that these replaced were over 35 years old. There are all kinds of doors. These are fairly basic, but they only have to look good on one side, do it works.


  11. Dan -= I love getting to see into your world – and the hoist was a great idea. But the doors – even better of course.
    and omg – when i go to Buffalo I am flabbergasted to see folks not use their garages for their cars. In VA I could understand because we have mild winters- but in the snow belt – really? anyhow, good wisdom to have cars in garage and snow blower easy to access….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Yvette. For years, I had a Triumph Spitfire that was in the garage, so only one of our cars got in. Having to clean it off, clear the driveway around it, move it to clear the rest, etc. was such a pain. I have neighbors who don’t put their cars in, and I don’t get it.

      Liked by 1 person

            • haha – dan… thge car I referred to was also british made – or used to be (a Jag) and well, in my humble opinion I think getting stranded with a car is a good thing to happen to someone – not all the time – but it can stir up some serious appreciation and it is just a humbling and vulnerable experience.

              oh and side note – Linda sent out some info that you might find interesting:

              “Autonomous cars : In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.

              Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
              It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks.
              1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km), with autonomous driving that will drop to 1 accident in 6million miles (10 million km). That will save a million lives each year. Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.
              Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; are completely terrified of Tesla.
              Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.”

              Liked by 1 person

            • yes- and I think an Apple executive was recently quoted as telling more people to”learn CODE” – it is crucial –
              but it seems that many online sites are making the divide bigger for tech makers and tech users.
              For example, I think the new and improved version of WordPress is so dumbed down and they claim it is better and maybe easier – but it in my view it is not better and maybe just easier for older people to use…. or for people who don’t know how to do many online things –
              but thankfully the folks at WP have allowed us to have access to the old dashboard – which I prefer –

              Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Glynis. I wish this roof was a little steeper, then I oculd stand without hitting my head. Even though we are going to replace the roof, we can’t change the pitch without revisiting the variance under which the garage was built. I’t not worth that kind of aggravation.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You two are a formidable Team! Go Team Faith and Dan!! 📣
    The design of the white doors with black hinges is fantastic and attractive doors to add to the collection.
    I’m impressed with the neat window and shaping it like an angled barn window. Hope the word barn sounds like a compliment since I lam referring to Amish and Mennonite barns with their craftsmanship, which you display in the processing pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I enjoy the progress and the finished doors. You did a nice job! Love the lights above the doors and the hinges. Did you decide to make the panels different sizes so you could hoist larger items without opening both? You are right about that 57 – 60 age mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jennie. The disproportionate split on the doors is by design. We were hoping to install a set of stairs that pull down from the attic space, instead of having to use a ladder. They are wider than a 50/50 split would allow. It’s what we used on the inside doors, but the company no longer makes that model stair :(

      The hoist works well, even if the item isn’t heavy. Trying to lug our artificial Christmas tree up the ladder is a pain and is becoming dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I didn’t make it Thursday, but this was a satisfying Saturday read!
    Absolutely fabulous, Dan. And even better that it was a family project.
    A hoist! Cornelis must have a hoist….. I’ll add that to my box of “things”… Back to planning. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha – we should have been singing that.

      I have built a bunch of doors. Not all using the traditional methods, but I’ve done that too. I love looking at doors and seeing how the craftsmen made those beauties. The amazing thing to consider is that the guys building the doors you often share were made by people using hand tools.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You need to be seriously proud of yourself for doing all of this work, Dan. I KNOW what hubby goes through … so I KNOW what you do. Your home will be the best looking one on the block when you are finished! Outstanding!

    Liked by 1 person

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