How to Build a Bulkhead Door

Wondering how to build a bulkhead door? Bulkhead doors are used to create an entrance to a basement and are typically angled instead of vertical. Special care must be taken to create a door that will stay weather tight and stand up to the elements.

How To Build A Bulkhead Door That Will Last
Somewhere between a trap door and a conventional door, a bulkhead door provides access to a basement that isn't suitable for a walk out style entry. Bulkhead door tend to be wider than other doors, making them perfect for moving large bulky items in and out of your basement. If you are considering adding a bulkhead door to your basement, here's how to get started:

  • Open up in there. To create access to an existing basement, a concrete entry will have to be constructed along the foundation of your home. First, a suitable area has to be excavated to expose the foundation wall. Next, an appropriately size hole will need to be cut into the foundation wall. Finally, a pre-cast concrete bulkhead-including stairs and retaining walls-will need to be bolted to the foundation to create the entry. Expect to pay a contractor around $3,000 to create a bulkhead entry.
  • Framing considerations. Once the concrete work is complete, you'll need to create a frame to hold your bulkhead door. The frame will connect to the bulkhead using bolts set into concrete anchors. Pay particular attention to sealing around the frame with caulk to create a strong barrier against moisture and air infiltration.
  • Door choices. Bulkhead doors come in many forms, each with advantages and challenges. Metal doors are the most secure and durable, however the unique design of bulkhead doors means you'll be lifting the door when opening it, making weight a concern. High-density polyethylene doors are very lightweight, but may not be as secure as other choices. Custom wooden doors are very attractive, but care must be taken to finish the doors in such a way as to protect them from the elements.
  • Bulkhead door options. Once the bulkhead door is installed, you may want to enhance it by adding custom additions. Gas-filled cylinders are available to make opening the doors easier. These cylinders attach to the frame and door and push the door open when the door handle is release. There are also specially designed locks that fit across the bulkhead door to increase the security of these unique entryways.
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