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How to Cut a Door in a Basement Foundation

By Elizabeth Arnold
Update a concrete basement by adding a door.

You can cut through a home's foundation to add a door using a concrete saw. Concrete saws are hand-held gas-powered tools that feature between 12- and 18-inch blades, depending on the model. The larger the blade is, the deeper it will cut. Both dry- and wet-cut concrete saws are available. A dry-cut saw will make cuts into concrete without using water, but can kick up a lot of dust and should be used in a well-ventilated area. Wet-cut saws need to be attached to a water source such as a garden hose.

Measure the width and height of the door unit using a tape measure. Add to the measurement if you're using studs and headers to install the door. Use a felt tip marker and a chalk box to transfer the width and height measurements to the basement foundation where the door will be installed. Check the marks with a 4-foot level to ensure the lines are plumb and level.

Hold a 16-inch-long two-by-four block of wood vertical, 4 to 5 feet up and centered in the doorway that will be cut out. Drill two or three holes through the wood and into the foundation material with a hammer drill and a 1/4-inch-diameter masonry bit. Slide three 16-penny nails into each hole and hammer them to secure the block of wood to the foundation.

Wedge a piece of lumber at a 45-degree angle, or close to it, between the floor and the block of wood. Repeat the wood block and lumber installation on the opposite side of the door portion that is being removed so it won't fall once the concrete saw cuts have been made.

Inspect the concrete saw for any defects or worn parts. Top up the saw's gas and oil levels and install the blade that you will use to cut the foundation. Turn on the water source if you're using a wet saw and start the concrete saw following the manufacturer's directions.

Cut a horizontal line as close to the floor slab as possible, followed by the vertical lines that were snapped with chalk, working from the bottom up. Keep both hands on the saw at all times and take breaks as needed to avoid fatigue. Cut the top horizontal line last. If the cuts didn't go completely through the wall on the first cuts, repeat the steps on the opposite side of the wall so the cuts meet up.

Remove the wedged board in the direction you want the cut slab to fall, making sure no one is in its path. Cut the portion into smaller pieces for easy removal. Remove any remaining tabs of concrete around the doorway using a masonry chisel and mallet. Install the door.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Door unit
  • Tape measure
  • Felt-tip marker
  • Chalk box
  • 4-foot level
  • Two-by-four lumber
  • Hammer drill
  • ΒΌ-inch masonry bit
  • 16-penny nails
  • Hammer
  • Concrete saw
  • Hose with water source (optional)
  • Concrete chisel
  • Mallet

Warning

  • Cutting into the foundation of a home may weaken the structural integrity of the wall and/or the floor above it. When cutting the wall, look for an area that doesn't support a structure beam. Check for any hidden utilities, such as electrical wires or plumbing, that may be in the wall and avoid cutting into them. Avoid cutting a hole into an area where moisture and water could accumulate to avoid drainage issues. If you're not sure whether a particular wall location is safe to cut into, consult a structural engineer prior to creating the door.

About the Author

 

Elizabeth Arnold has written for a wide variety of publications and websites. Her experience includes writing travel features for "Recommend" magazine and packaging marketing copy for both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. consumer products. Recently, Arnold was a staff writer for "Special Events" magazine. Arnold studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.