Bathroom door hits toilet

nikolattaJune 13, 2013

Hi all,

One of my biggest frustrations in my house is that the bathroom door (which is a left-handed inswing), hits the toilet seat and makes a small bathroom feel even smaller. Unfortunately, we can't change the swing if the door to out in the hallway because the hall is too narrow (and we would like to be able to leave the door open for ventilation when it is not in use. We originally thought to just switch it to a right-hand in-swing, but it still would not be able to clear the toilet at its current size (30" wide). Our options appear to be (a) reduce the door to 28" and switch the swing, (b) reduce the door to 28" and install as a pocket door (reduction would still be necessary due to the wall being too short), (c) install a bifold bathroom door (an idea my partner despises), or (d) install a barn-style door (an idea we both hate due to having such a narrow hallway). We are leaning towards option A to remain in keeping with the houses original style, and we have already gotten our hands on a 28" door that matches the other doors in the hallway. My remaining concerns are that our walls are plaster and our door trim are original and thick, and my neighbor indicated that they may be solid wrap-around pieces. What advice do you all have regarding how to safely remove and reuse the existing trim without damaging the plaster, building the wall in without it looking awful, and if this project is a great idea or a disaster in the making? Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice!!!!

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Based on what you've mentioned, I'd go with option A; I am assuming the trim is painted since it appears as one piece, which is very, VERY unlikely. It is relatively simple to remove the trim and install another stud and reattach the trim. This would leave just a narrow space which you could cover with new plaster compound.

The hardest part is removing the trim pieces, scoring the paint at all joints, and carefully prying up from both sides of each face moving from bottom to top just enough to loosen the nails before removing it.

A closer picture of the trim would help to see what you have...if trim doesn't have corner rosettes or blocks, then it is almost certainly butt-jointed with the top piece extending over both side pieces.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:12AM
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We faced the same situation only our door hit a brick chimney, not a toilet. In this old house with 10,000 projects to do, my mantra is "don't make this more difficult than it needs to be." I didn't want to start pulling off trim because I was afraid of harming plaster as well as the trim.

So what we did is build up the inside of the doorframe to accommodate a narrower door. The way it was before (and the way the rest of the doors still are), the door sat behind a 3" wide 3/8" deep stop:

We moved the door forward in the doorframe so it sits between, not behind, the 3" wide board. We also built up the 3" wide stop board with another 3" wide board 1/2" deep. Then we added a new 1" wide stop in front of where the new door would hit. Does my explanation make sense? Here's the math on how the doorframe shrunk: 3/8" + 3/8" (from moving the door to between the existing stops) + 1/2" + 1/2" (from building up the existing stops) = an opening that is 1 3/4" narrower than the old opening. Caulk it, paint it, and no one ever notices...not even us. No muss, no fuss, done. Here are "after" pictures:

We split the difference evenly between the left and right side, but we could have easily built up one side and not the other, or one side more than the other.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:15AM
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My thoughts are along the same line as arlosmom: don't build up the wall, just build up the trim. 1" on either side is no big deal. And if you have to put all 2" on one side because of the clearance issue, oh well, it's an old house, things are never perfectly symmetrical, right? :-)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Disregard - did not read thoroughly.

This post was edited by millworkman on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 11:25

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Definitely build up the trim if it's just a couple of inches. That way if you manage to find a more compact toilet you can easily restore the wider door.

millworkman ... it was discussed and the hall is too narrow to make it a good solution for the OP.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Do you have an elongated toilet? If so, will swapping it out for a round toilet give you the necessary clearance?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Agreed. If you're close, might just need another toilet.

To compare toilet clearances, put a stick across the bowl with edge aligned directly over the floor bolt holes. Next measure from that "line" to the front of the toilet. Compare with other toilets. You'll need a place that has demos in reach, not up on a shelf.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:35PM
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IâÂÂd cut a piece out of the door then reattach it with a spring loaded hinge that swang it away from the toilet. When you open the door then it would just swing out and miss the toilet.

Closing the door from the inside just have a string to pull the piece into position. Closing from the outside just push on it.

Or better yet just have the piece spring loaded to stay in place and let the toilet push it out. Presumably youâÂÂd pad the piece where it hit the toilet. That way things wouldnâÂÂt get to looking bad.

Sounds crazy but look at the work and trouble youâÂÂd save. Bet it could be done in an hour or less including getting out your tools and putting them away.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 11:50PM
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Check your toilet flange. If you have a T where the bolts go through the flange, you can rotate the toilet up to 15 degrees. This might give you the desired clearance.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Wow, what a great idea, you guys are awesome!!! I thought I had thought of everything, but the padding of the frame sounds much easier/less expensive than rebuilding the wall, and poses less risk to our existing wall and door frame. Columbusguy, I am also glad to hear that it is quite unlikely to be a single piece, I had a feeling that wasn't the case. To clarify, what I meant to say was that it may be 3 solid pieces (one for each side and the top), rather than thinner molding placed over the door frame, but it is painted (with many layers) and quite difficult to tell. It does look like our front door stops are milled as part of the frame rather than added as they would be now, but even that isn't definitive at this stage. I will post pictures after we decide which way we are leaning, thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Myxlylplyx, ur wrong. You cut out the part that hits the toilet and nail it onto the door frame and when the door's closed it meets and looks like it was never cut.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:52PM
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ThatâÂÂd work but with the hinged scheme if you get locked out just reach thru.

Last night at dinner I said to one of my stepsons, âÂÂProblem on the old house forum with bathroom door hitting the toiletâ¦..â I never even finished the sentence and he snapped out, âÂÂCut a notch in the door.â Guess I raised him right. :-)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:09AM
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one more alternative possible. I saw this in a friend's house and thought it was a clever idea to solve a similar problem.
they used a double swinging door, split down the middle and hinged on each side.Theirs was louvered and looked like a big shutter, but I expect swinging door hardware would work on another kind of door as well. bi-swinging door, rather than bi fold.... and the doors could swing either way or both. show us a photo of the solution you settle on. this has been an interesting thread.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:36PM
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egbar's idea is what we did for our kitchen to DR door. This is the original solid heart pine door and hardware. My contractor cut it in half ! Works great and made the swing a non-problem. Sound is cut off as the old door is so solid ..this is a consideration for a bathroom :) Should work great if you decide to do it. c

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 10:33PM
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trailrunner, that looks really good! Hopefully OP's door is similar to that one. I am looking forward to seeing a photo of the solution they choose.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:52AM
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thanks egbar ! we love it. You can see that I had fun leaving the original hardward on the left side of the left door :) Added the old knobs to it so we could open/close. I had another room that I wish I had done this for...but at that time hadn't seen it in a magazine and didn't think of it. Hope this helps someone else with an old door problem. c

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:15AM
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My bathroom door hits the top of a pedastal sink. I cut a piece out of the door so it makes it past the ink. Fortunately, the trim around the door still covers the gap I created. It looks like hell but it works.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 7:43PM
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Is there any reason that the door swing cannot be reversed so that it swings out of the room rather than inward??

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Hi all,

It's been ages, but we finally finished the bathroom door. Our neighbor found us a free 28" door which we stripped/sanded/painted. Then we followed Arlosmom's advice and padded the door frame, moved the door up to in between the now padded stops and added new stops. Finally we caulked and painted the trim, cleaned up the hardware and voila! It was crazy close, but it clears the toilet and that is all we needed. What a good idea, thanks to everyone for all the helpful hints. Now I just have to get the light switch out from behind the door and figure out where to put the toilet paper (previous holder was on the back of the old door). Always something :)

Let me know if you would like to see more pics of the trim, interior view, etc. I can't figure out how to post multiple pictures.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:31AM
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