Basement Bulkhead Doors
Basement Bulkhead Cellar Doors - Their
Advantages and Key Features
By: Mark J. Donovan
When developing plans for a new
home that includes a basement, it is important that the basement include
egress to the outside. In many cases a walkout basement is not possible due
to the contour of the property. In these cases a basement bulkhead door, or
basement cellar door, is the right solution.
Bulkhead Door Advantages
A couple of key advantages of
basement bulkhead doors include flexibility in the location of them around
the foundation, and the wide standard widths that they are available in.
Basement bulkhead door widths
(approximately 4.5” wide) allow you to easily store lawn furniture and tools in
your basement, as well enable easy access for servicing your home’s HVAC and
Basement bulkhead cellar doors usually
consist of two doors and are made out of steel. However I have seen some wood
ones built by building contractors on the job site, as well as others made out
of fiberglass. Fiberglass bulkhead doors, or in reality door, open similar to a
Basement bulkhead doors typically
mount on stairways that lead into the basement. Basement bulkhead doors can be
installed on pre-cast concrete stairs that bolt into the basement foundation. It
is important that the contractor apply a water sealant between the bulkhead
stairway and the basement foundation walls, prior to bolting the pre-cast
concrete stairs to the foundation walls. The sealant should prevent water and
Bulkhead Door Features
When selecting a basement bulkhead
door or cellar door system look for units that have torsion systems to enable the doors to open
and close easily without endangering yourself. Also make sure the doors latch
open, so they won’t accidentally close on you. If you have ever had a bulkhead
door close on your head, you know what I mean.
Also, for security measures look for
basement bulkhead doors that have solid locking systems. The doors should have a
slide bolt lock assembly on the inside of the door.
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Basement Bulkhead Doors
The basement bulkhead doors mount on
top of the pre-cast concrete stairway with bolts. Again, it is important that a
water and airtight sealant be applied between the basement bulkhead doorframe
and the pre-cast concrete stairway.
Even with the best attempts of
sealing around the basement bulkhead doorframe, and pre-cast stairway, air
infiltration will still occur through the door seams. To address this situation,
I have found it best to install an insulated door at the foot of the pre-cast
stairway and foundation doorway. Depending upon the size of the bulkhead door
opening a custom door may need to be built. At a minimum, a doorframe will need
to be installed around the inside perimeter of the concrete doorframe. Use
pressure treated wood when installing the door frame, and again apply a sealant
between the pressure treated wood and the concrete walls.
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