That sloped lump of wood (or metal) that lies on the floor at the base of your entry door is called the sill. It is also referred to as the saddle or threshold Many years ago sills were only made of wood, but have been replaced in most new construction with an aluminum type. This is because metal, particularly aluminum, is considerably more durable and far less expensive than the hardwoods that once adorned most entries.
In any event, if you have an older home and have a wood door sill there is a very good possibility that it is beginning to show a little wear and tear. Winter rain, snow, summer heat and the sun’s ultraviolet rays take there toll on exterior wood surfaces of all kinds including — you guessed it — wooden thresholds. Once a sill has deteriorated to the point where there are more splits in the wood than grain lines painting will not last for long. When a sill is in such bad condition a heavy coat of paint twice a year is just what the doctor ordered.
It should be noted that the sill is the only barrier between the elements and the floor framing at the door opening. If the sill is deteriorated and leaking water could reach the adjacent subfloor and framing fueling fungus damage and rot — an expensive condition to repair!
Our advise is to change that sill when its condition becomes questionable. Should a wood sill be replaced with metal or with another made of wood? If the existing sill is made of wood we “would” recommend wood…..how much wood could a wood chuck chuck!! For two reasons: 1) it is always smart to maintain architectural integrity by exactly matching what exists when a repair or alteration is performed, and 2) wood is simply more elegant. Also, with proper installation and maintenance a wood sill can last several decades.
Remove the old sill by removing a chunk from the middle. Two saw cuts is all it will take. Be careful not to damage adjacent flooring when making these cuts. Next, use a chisel to split the two sides that remain along the grain (parallel to the length) keeping in mind that in many instances the threshold ends that lie below the door frame are nailed or screwed to either the floor or the door frame itself. Splitting will make removal easier when this is the case. More splits will equal smaller pieces to remove and less chance of damage to the surrounding area.
Clean the area thoroughly and remove all protruding screws and nails and make the new threshold ready to fit by measuring and cutting it. When retrofitting a threshold one will rarely be able to “slip” the new piece into place. This is because the thickest side of the tapered piece faces inward and will neither fit below the door jamb from the outside or between the floor and jamb from the inside. But don’t fret the process is not difficult. All you have to do is notch one end of the threshold to match the shape of the door frame. Holding the threshold at an angle to the floor, slip the un-nothched end under the door jamb on one side and then simply lay the notched end down the opposite jamb. Once flat on the floor, slide the jamb an eighth of an inch or so toward the notched side to hide the cutting — and use several strong weather resistant screws to hold everything in place.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is extremely important that a new threshold be laid in a bed of caulking to prevent attack from moisture. Several long beads of caulking running from side to side in the opening should to the trick. If caulking oozes out of the threshold at all locations as it is screwed tightly in place then enough caulking was used. If not remove the sill and add more caulking.