Door slabs for 6’x8′ double pocket door
Hi – new to Breaktime, first time posting, long time FHB reader, 4 yrs in business. Hope this isn’t a duplicate topic, but I did search the archives, and most of the pocket door questions deal with framing and hardware, not the slabs themselves.
Here’s my issue: I’m trying to finish up a small remodel job where the client had me add a 6’w x 8’h double pocket door in a basement. Since I wanted light switches in close range of the opening and I wanted a reasonably stiff wall, I used two 3′ (6′ incl. pocket) Johnson kits and added a 5/4 flat stud sandwiched on both sides of the wall for a net 5.5″ frame thickness. Got drywall installed, time for trim. Door slabs are delivered, smooth faced, solid-core arch-top paneled 3/0x8/0 doors from Masonite. They’ve gone through at least three links on the supply chain (Masonite – wholesaler – my lumberyard) before coming to me.
Upon initial installation, one door looks pretty flat (1/8″ or less bow), the other has about 1/4″ or more bow to it. I have my trim carpenters reverse the “bad” slab to try to line up the bows on the two doors to minimize the effect. Still looks like crud (it’s a pretty high-end home), so I tell the client I’m going to leave it hanging like this over the weekend and reorder one slab. This is Friday.
By Tuesday(?), the new slab comes, and we go to replace the bowed one. However, the one that was initially worse now looks absolutely perfect, and the other one is binding in its slot with over 1/4″ of bow in it. We removed it, hung replacement #1, which was also off by a bit and looked like crud where the two slabs meet.
Long story short, I’ve almost lost track, but I think I’m now up to my third REPLACEMENT (fourth slab) on that side, and they all arrive with nearly 1/4″ of bow in them, even when the supplier (wholesaler) says it was dead flat or under 1/8″ when it left their warehouse. Mfr’s rep says they have a tolerance of 1/4″ so I really can’t expect any better than this. Client – and I – are not happy with what we have, but supplier can’t (read: won’t) keep sending out one after another, and won’t let me come to their warehouse to hand-pick one.
One of the first slabs I removed was then leaned against a wall outside, bow-side up, at a good angle and didn’t change a bit over a week’s time and all kinds of weather. I’m inclined to believe that with the slowdown in construction, some of these slabs are sitting in the warehouse for too long, taking a set that wouldn’t be there in a hotter market where inventory is turning over quickly.
Now, my questions:
1. How much tolerance would you expect on an 8′ Masonite door?
2. Is there a way to *permanently* correct a bow such as this without looking horrible? (I’ve read tricks about putting it in the sun, laying it on the grass, etc. but I can’t imagine those are permanent solutions. Even setting it on sawhorses with a weight in the middle doesn’t seem to be a permanent solution).
3. Is there a different product that I should look into? Masonite has a Crown Series MDF door, but my understanding is that these would also have the same 1/4″ tolerance.
I’m a little perplexed about the movement both original slabs showed in the first few days. I’ve left each successive one inside for several days before ordering the next to allow for humidity & temp acclimation. This issue has dragged on long enough and I need to find the right solution where I won’t be called back in another week or a month. I also want to handle this right because there’s a master bath remodel for the same client depending on it!
Any and all advice is appreciated!