I just had my basement door replaced. The close-to-finished product looks something like this picture;

Exterior door with tunnel or extenders on the inside

Note that this door is inside a "tunnel like" frame (which means the door can only open 90 degrees). From some searching online I believe this may be referred to as an interior extension but I'm not sure. Does somebody know what this would be called?

More importantly, is this OK? If not what is the proper way to handle thick walls? We have brick veneer, concrete block, 2" XPS, then the framed wall and drywall. I believe the contractor did it this way so as to start the door where the brick veneer ended (how the previous door was setup, but the basement was unfinished before thus it wasnt a problem).

EDIT -- FWIW, I just found that diynetwork.com is ok with doing it this way, but I dont see how they can even install a decent amount of trim around the door to make it look ok in this case...

basement exterior entrance with recessed door

2 Answers 2


OK I run into this 3 or 4 times a year. I like putting doors on basements. For 7-10k you can get 1000 sq/ft and 2 extra bedrooms in a house. I won't answer this for just basements though so let's go over the options.

  1. For minor issues you can add a jamb extender. More often than not I like to use strips of plywood (it doesn't split like solid wood). So if my door is right on the wall and I need to add drywall I would use 3/4" plywood (which is less than 3/4"). Then trim around the jambs with that. Then once drywall is up (1/2" true) plus mud you are probably even or damn close. And certainly nothing caulk wouldn't fix.

  2. We would make the door opening bigger. Maybe add some sidelights or maybe just some rustic wood that is cool. We often do the wood because we can run electric through this and then boom, we have outdoor lighting. With an extra 12-20" a door can open plenty enough. Now let's talk about the reason why you want to do this. A basement door that sits below ground level is the perfect example. I want to create one edge for the basement that is a good 3-6" higher than the pad next to it. I don't want my door sitting inside where water may get into and leak into the house.

  3. And for your case the fix is easy. Take the door out, jambs and all, and then install them on the inside part of the thick wall. This should take an hour max. Now the only thing extra that needs to be done is to finish the exterior parts of the wall now. When I am in France doing houses about 90% of new builds are insulated cement blocking. Doors are installed on the interior edge and then almost all will get a storm door on the exterior edge.

Let me know if you have anymore questions on this.

  • Thanks for the response im a bit confused though. For 1. Doesnt the picture i posted already have jamb extendors (i.e. the tunnel "walls")? Are you simply stating that the solution shown is ok? And for #2 which side would u suggest making bigger? I think the problem is the door cant be much wider because its almost at maximum width for the concrete block. Also how does making it wider affect the height? Right now there is a small step down outside the basement door. And re #3 the picture is actually better then the current case... There is actually no room for trim, the door is flush w tunnel
    – n00b
    Dec 28, 2016 at 14:31
  • For #1 no, that isn't a jamb extension, that is a small wall. So ignore #1 for your issue. For #2 the hinge side so the door can open wider. The door doesn't have to open 180 degrees but it also shouldn't be a hindrance. In your case it will be a huge issue. For #3, the picture is the OPPOSITE of what I would suggest - it is currently showing sitting flush with exterior wall. If you don't want to make the opening bigger move the door to the inside wall. Deal with the outside wall in another question.
    – DMoore
    Dec 28, 2016 at 21:24

Yes, it's okay. The top pic is okay and leaves room for trim & drywall (obviously).

You're correct in noting the bottom pic gives little to no room for trim or drywall.

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