What do I do about a broken bathroom door in my apartment?
March 9, 2007 8:46 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend punched holes in my bathroom door. Do I tell my super (who will likely tell my landlord) or do I replace it myself?

I rent. The door is a plain hollow wooden door. It's destroyed considerably so there's no other option but to replace it. If I tell my Super, I might be able to get a new door cheaper (perhaps through their contractor?). However, he will most definitely inform my landlord and I don't want to develop a reputation as a poor tenant with an aggressive boyfriend. Would there be any consequences? If I do tell him, should I make the damage look like an accident? Should I replace the door myself and would that affect anything when I move out?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (41 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me I would replace the door myself and find a new boyfriend.
posted by ND¢ at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd ditch the guy, tell the super what happened (and that you've ditched the guy) and offer to pay for it. All bases covered.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

If the boyfriend is now an ex-boyfriend, you should replace the door yourself.

If he's still a boyfriend, then he probably ought to replace it, but really you need to get rid of the boyfriend before you worry about the door.
posted by dilettante at 8:55 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd replace the door myself. If the building is big enough to have a super, there's no way they keep track of what every door in every apartment looks like. They probably won't even notice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:59 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Make the boyfriend replace the door, then take away his key and tell him you want to be "friends". Then change your phone number.
posted by DU at 9:01 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you do it yourself, you have to pay for a door and go through the pain in the ass process of installing a door.

If you tell the super, you'll have to pay for the door whenever you move out, out of your deposit, and they'll put the door in for you.

Seems an easy choice to me.

And get a boyfriend that's not violent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just replace the door yourself. Interior doors in large apartment buildings are going to be dirt-ass cheap anyway, and by the time you move, no one's going to remember what kind of door you had on the bathroom originally.
posted by timetoevolve at 9:06 AM on March 9, 2007

Replace the door with something extremely solid and unbreakable and enjoy the big laffs the next time your boyfriend attempts to kung-fu-fight it.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 9:07 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't know what you should do, but you might be interested to know that every single newish fixture and fitting in our apartment (huge, well kept 1960's block) was the cheapest available at the local Home Depot. If you decide to replace the door yourself, you might not find it hard to find an identical one. I hear it's hard to hang a door though, you might need a pro.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:10 AM on March 9, 2007

Your boyfriend should replace it with no super involved and if he won't, then everyone who's saying get a new boyfriend is right. I wouldn't involve the super - things like that will start them scrutinizing you really closely and that becomes hell on earth quickly: they'll start just showing up, calling you all the time, etc. Personally, I'd just hang up a bedspread if I couldn't afford a door and then worry about it when I moved, but that's me.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:13 AM on March 9, 2007

If this boyfriend is still in the picture and does not buy the door and help you hang it, wtf.

As mentioned above, doors are surprisingly cheap. Trust and temperance come at a price.
posted by hermitosis at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2007

In your case, hanging the door will probably be easy -- you're reusing the existing frame (and hopefully hinges). Just get one that matches the hinges of the destroyed one, have someone hold it up while you place the pins, and you're done.

...and if your boyfriend hasn't already tried to run out and replace it himself in a fit of shame, he's an ass. Feel free to tell him I said so.
posted by aramaic at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

What your landlord will think of you should be the least of your worries. Really. The boyfriend has to go first. Then replace the bathroom door, with your super's help if necessary. Please consider talking to someone about your situation- violence simply isn't okay, ever. You deserve better than this.
posted by ambrosia at 9:23 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you're short on money, you might be able to find a used, cheap door at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore
posted by stefanie at 9:28 AM on March 9, 2007

New boyfriend. New door. New locks. New number.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:31 AM on March 9, 2007

If your apartment is older, hanging a door yourself might be harder than it looks -- you won't be able to find one with the same hinges, and the frame may have settled to an imperceptibly odd shape that will nonetheless make it very frustrating to hang a new door and have it, like, close and stuff. (Can you tell I'm talking from experience?)

I agree that if it were me, I wouldn't get the super involved -- but you might want to call in a pro if you're unsure of what you're doing.

(And I know it's off topic, but seriously - I can't imagine any guy I've ever been with punching a hole in my bathroom door, no matter what he was mad at. If your boyfriend's still in the picture, I hope you have his sincere apology and promise to pay a contractor to come fix the door. And in any case, just appease us and peruse the info here.)
posted by AV at 9:34 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't want to get into the boyfriend thing, since everyone else here has already.

But yes, I would replace the door without any help from the super or landlord. Most likely they would charge you *more* and it could possibly affect your security deposit if you have one. Also if they know you (or your guests) wrecked stuff in your apartment, this could cause problems when you move out - they may scrutinize everything a lot more than they would for someone who hadn't had problems.

Also, since you/your guest caused the damage, they will probably force you to pay for it either way, so there is no benefit in getting them involved. I'd only involve the super/landlord if it was something that was their responsibility to fix.
posted by tastybrains at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2007

I replaced my own bathroom door and it was a mistake for the reasons AV mentions; it NEVER fit right, no matter how much I shaped and sanded it.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:39 AM on March 9, 2007

Punched a door, not punched a HOLE in a door. Though those cheap doors are surprisingly flimsy.

I guess what I'm saying is: If the door was punched because you yourself weren't close enough to punch: get out. If the door was punched as a violence "display" for your benefit: get out. If the door was punched because he hits his head on the doorway every couple of weeks and he was already frustrated because of some other thing and he apologized right away: probably everything is fine.
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on March 9, 2007

Avoiding the boyfriend discussion, what's worth more to you: your landlord's good will, or not having to go through the hassle of hanging a door? As stated above, it's not always as straightforward as it seems. Get someone who knows what they're doing to handle it for you.
posted by sonofslim at 9:47 AM on March 9, 2007

Just get one that matches the hinges of the destroyed one, have someone hold it up while you place the pins, and you're done.

This seems impossibly optimistic to me, too. At a minimum, the door will have to be shortened at one or both ends. Then you'll have to install the latch, which is not trivial.

Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and pick out a similar door, and pay them to deliver and install it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:49 AM on March 9, 2007

I punched a hole in a door over a particularly devilish redox equation once. Haven't struck another human being in anger since I was in junior high.

Of course the fact that it is holes rather than hole is troubling, but really, I'm quite confident this person knows whether or not (s)he needs to get out of this relationship (note for future: if you don't want your anonymous question to turn into a referendum on whether to get out of your relationship, phrase it thusly: I accidentally damaged my bathroom door beyond repair etc.).

In conclusion, interior doors are neither particularly expensive (plus your landlord will deduct expenses and labor from your deposit in addition to stigma issues) nor difficult to install (an extra set of hands really does help, though) as long as you only need to replace the door, not the frame. I'd call this a definite DIY.
posted by nanojath at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2007

Not particularly difficult provided it is a standard size, I should say. If the door is of unusual proportions it can get tricky. Measure carefully.
posted by nanojath at 10:17 AM on March 9, 2007

Your boyfriend isn't this guy, is he?

Also, seconding the Habitat for Humanity ReStore option, if they have one in your town. They have doors of all sizes, and if you can find one that's already a match, you'll save a lot of serious hassle.

Hollow doors are hard to cut down without accidentally cutting into the hollow part, which then requires that you re-glue the filler material from the door's perimeter. It's a pain.

And as someone else noted, cross your fingers that the building hasn't settled and turned the doorframes into trapezoids!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:26 AM on March 9, 2007

I kicked a hole in an interior door when I was a ten year old girl. It is not hard to do - those things might as well be made of paper. So I pass no judgments about the boyfriend (unless, of course, this is a pattern of violence that shows signs of being directed against you). Boyfriend aside, it's cheap and usually pretty easy to replace an interior door. Home Depot is your friend. Management, by contrast, may overcharge you.

On the other hand, I doubt your super will care much that you have an aggressive boyfriend. They'll probably just care that you pay for the damage and pay your rent.
posted by walla at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2007

If your boyfriend is handy that way I would have him hang a new one. Otherwise have him hire a contractor. Hanging a door is tricky enough that if things go wrong he might start punching the new door.
posted by caddis at 10:31 AM on March 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

fix the door yourself- the landlord won't notice the difference; if he does, play dumb.

make sure to get rid of the old door in a way that won't arouse suspiscion (ie, don't haul it outside on a day when the super's vaccuuming the stairwell).

oh, and hanging doors is annoying, get a professional to do it, on boyfriend's dime.

if boyfriend punches any more holes in your stuff, dump his ass and key his car. i have a "one angry outburst, shame on you; two angry outbursts, shame on me" boyfriend policy.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:38 AM on March 9, 2007

I'll stick with the majority and say ditch the moronic boyfriend and let your super know that you'll cover the costs for the new door.

The door seems to be the better of the deal...
posted by pezdacanuck at 10:49 AM on March 9, 2007

Buying and hanging a door is harder than you'd think, but you can do this, no problem!

First of all, measure the door in all dimensions (width, height and thickness).

Next, measure the frame to make sure it's square. If it isn't, this job will be significantly more difficult, and the fixes are outside the scope of this response.

When you measure the door frame proper, be sure there is adequate clearance in all directions. 2-3mm on the top and both sides, and more on the bottom (this is dependent on what the door swings over. make sure it clears any carpeting/rugs without catching, to avoid future frustration.)

Now remove the old door by opening it up, use a second person to lift the door as you unscrew the hinges from bottom to top.

Check the jamb for damage. If it is undamaged and square, you don't need to replace it. If it is, you do, and that is outside the scope of this reply.

Next up, buy a new door, and hinges. It's generally easier to replace them than to reuse them. Home depot can help you out here. Make sure to get it to measure, as you want to avoid any heavy carpentry when you get home.

Is your knob in good shape? If so, don't buy one. They're easy to transfer.

Now you've got your door home and a jamb ready to accept it.

Mark the position of the hinges on the door (measure twice!), drill screw holes, and screw the hinges to the door.

Now do a preliminary hanging of the door, to be sure that it swings freely, that all the gaps are acceptable, and that the latch lines up correctly.

If that is all perfect, you're good to go. If it's older construction, you may have to shave the door a bit, or play with the hinge positions.

Once you are satisfied with the way it is hung, paint or stain it as needed to match the old door.

Good luck!
posted by Dump The MotherFucker Already! at 11:06 AM on March 9, 2007 [6 favorites]

If the door is a weird size a can of contact cement, a laminate trimmer and two sheets of luan will fix the hole.
posted by Mitheral at 11:06 AM on March 9, 2007

This is just a temporary fix, but may be an easier option then replacing the door right now. Do you have the same cheap hollow doors on your closets? If so, you can remove the pins on the hinges and switch the doors. If the hole is just on one side, put that to the interior of the closet. If it's all the way through, then do without a closet door for now. Just check that the hardware for the door handles are the same, otherwise you may not have a lock for your bathroom.
posted by saffry at 11:33 AM on March 9, 2007

...However, he will most definitely inform my landlord and I don't want to develop a reputation as a poor tenant with an aggressive boyfriend. Would there be any consequences? If I do tell him, should I make the damage look like an accident? Should I replace the door myself and would that affect anything when I move out?

Thing is, sooner or later they always find out. Why not be honest from the start? If I were your landlord (I've been one, years ago) I'd be pissed to discover when you moved out that you'd changed a fixture without telling me. (Especially if you didn't do a good job -- although, if you do this, I hope you do a good job.) So sure, it could "affect things" but how it affects things is really hard to say right now.

You don't say if this boyfriend is still your boyfriend. If he is, do you suppose he might be breaking some other things in the future? If that's the case, you may need some help from your super with repairs (or maybe even with protection, though that's another issue).
posted by Robert Angelo at 11:35 AM on March 9, 2007

You can also buy a pre-hung door complete with frame at Home Depot and put the frame and door in as one.

As others have mentioned, hanging a door is far harder than it may appear on first glance, especially with cheap hollow doors.

Yanking out the frame, putting a pre-hung door & frame combo in and then replacing the trim seems like a huge undertaking, but isn't nearly as hard as you would think.

Good luck with all of it.
posted by Sheppagus at 12:15 PM on March 9, 2007

If you replace the door, and it's done reasonably well, the landlord will not care that it was broken, or how it got that way. The LL wants to spend the minimum amount of money and time getting the place rentable when you leave. Having a new door is not going to make you look bad. Having done it yourself with no drain on LL's resources is going to make you look good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:49 PM on March 9, 2007

I'd tell the super as kinda a conversational, man, my boyfriend caught himself in his zipper and punched through the door (something I did with a laminate door— it really fucking hurt). Take care of it on your own if the super will let you.
I mean, dump the guy if the door-smacking was unjustified, but otherwise, eh, I guess I've put my hand through doors and drywall enough without being a violent person that I can give him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by klangklangston at 1:30 PM on March 9, 2007

How do you all know the door didn't attack the boyfriend first??

I'd replace the door. If the BF will man up and pay for it, al the better, if he won't, please feel free to wet the bed when he stays over.
posted by disclaimer at 2:34 PM on March 9, 2007

My father and I put a new door (with new hinges) in my apartment. Building was put up in the thirties. It wasn't hard. We're not carpenters but we've both fixed things around the house.
posted by philfromhavelock at 5:57 PM on March 9, 2007

There's a lot of boyfriend hate here. You know, some guys get frustrated over things, not people, and then direct their anger at those things, like punching them. Yeah, not good, but not anything like beating up girl friends and spouses. The boyfriend hate comments are kind of off topic (but I am one of those who advocate allowing that here, as long as it is appropriate. I am not now arguing for their deletion or anything. If he acts out his violence against people then the comments are so appropriate. I am just trying to point out that there are other reasons why this behavior might occur.) Of course, if he loves you he will make it right. I must say I keep going back and forth in my mind over whether the landlord should be brought in. He/she has an interest in making sure repairs are done well, but ugghh who wants to air their dirty laundry with the landlord? I guess I am on the don't tell side, but make a quality repair so that there is no issue later. This is where the bf can step up. No matter what the reason, killing a door is not ok and he should not cheap out on getting it repaired properly.
posted by caddis at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2007

What I want to know is why Dump The Motherfucker Already registered a new account just to leave that comment. Do people regularly make new accounts for eponysteria? Door hanging instructions don't seem like sensitive personal information to me.
posted by lostburner at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2007

Lots of answers to agree with here. Speaking as a landlord who's replaced more than one door:

* Things break. If your landlord is a nice guy he won't mind you telling him, especially if you make sure to say you're paying to fix it. He may prefer to fix it with his own guys, so give him the option, but that may actually cost you more.
* If you're worried about the demolition-man boyfriend aspect, just play down how it happened, say you weren't sure yourself. The landlord probably won't interrogate you.
* Fixing it depends completely on whether you have a modern pre-fab door or an "historic" (pre-1960s) door.
** Prefabs are easy to fix, although you have to make sure you get the right size. You probably want to get a door kit, even if you will discard the new frame, because big boxes like Home Depot generally only sell finished doors in a kit. Measure twice, cut once, they say, so measure, measure, measure. If your apartment doors are painted, it's a bit easier, as you can buy what they call a "plug". But don't try to finish and stain a plug yourself.
** Older doors require finding a match. (You can put a new door in an old doorway, but they almost never look right.) They don't sell these at Home Depot, so you'll have to search. You might even find an historic preservation place that will repair the door, if you're in a big enough city. This could will be expensive. With your landlord's involvement, though, this could be easier -- he could know of a source already, or have some spare, less-broken doors from the building in storage, etc. But if you do this on your own you'll have to scour many piles of used doors in many unlikely places like sheds or chicken-wire-divided antique malls.
posted by dhartung at 6:36 PM on March 9, 2007

I ended up elbowing a hole in my girlfriend's door because it was locked and had no key and we were tired and moving in and our super never picks up his phone or returns messages. Bad idea as the stuff cheap doors are made of splinters easily but does not break well. Ended up side kicking it down and it flew most amusingly. I thought I had bent the pins, but after a little WD-40 the hinges moved fine. We measured the door, and after a few months of procrastination, bought a new one from Home Depot. We haven't even painted it (and probably won't) and the super has failed to notice when he's come in for maintainance. Just make sure you measure the door exactly, work with at least one additional person that you communicate well with. A power screwdriver helps a lot. Also, sanding tools, as even if you try and get it exactly right, you'll probably have to do a little trimming to get the door in.

Also, I agree with the posters that say that if the boyfriend "punched" the door with his fists in rage, then dump him. However, if the boyfriend "punched" the door with a hammer while trying to hang a picture, then this is just a case of unfortnate word choice.
posted by Xoder at 6:48 AM on March 12, 2007

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