I occasionally get asked to replace basement access doors. Usually the doors are in pretty bad shape, and more often than not, the bulkhead itself is in need of repair. On the job shown here, for example, the concrete and stone base was beginning to crumble, and the top surface was cracked and uneven. When I first looked at the job, the gutter downspout terminated between the house and the bulkhead, to the left of the doors; it had been dumping water in the corner for years, saturating the masonry. By the time I returned to start work, the homeowner had taken care of this, directing the downspout to the right of the bulkhead and away from the house.

With conditions like these, I can't just pull off the old doors and install new ones. I want a flat, watertight surface to work from, so I make a base from pressure-treated lumber and trim it with cellular PVC. This gives me a secure attachment point and raises the unit a few inches off the concrete, which helps prevent rust and gives better...

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