When Zak and I first told people we wanted to install transoms in the entryways of our dining room and butlers pantry, most reactions were the same. “I hate to ask a stupid question, but what is a transom??!” Not a stupid question at all! We did not realize that these beautiful window architectural additions we had been wanting were called transoms either. Transoms can be found in entries, above doors, etc and add lots of charm.
We decided on three doorways that were in desperate need of some old world charm. It is recommended that you maintain 80 inch clearance from the floor to the bottom of a transom. Luckily, our entryways were tall enough that we did not need to go into drywall at all.
We did a lot of research on products before we decided to order from Transoms Direct. We had two small and one large custom entry so we decided to email some questions to find out measuring, prices etc. The store ended up being local and the owner was super helpful via email and on the phone. I cannot say enough nice things about him or his product. He even hand delivered them for us and walked us through the installation.
We ordered the transoms with just the sash and not the jambs because we felt it would be easier to do it ourselves to ensure we have the proper fit. The jambs surround the transom and hold them in place. This link describes jambs in more detail. What is a jamb?.
These transoms were ordered in poplar which was paint grade. There are options to have these made with stains grade wood such as oak, maple, cherry, mahogany and cedar.
We found this PDF to be very helpful in guiding us through the installation. Transom Install Tips. In addition to the PDF here are some of the steps we took.
Step one: Cut the Jamb Boards.
We used our miter saw to cut the 1×4 select pine boards to size. The vertical sides shown in the photos for our smaller transoms below were just nailed into place with one nail and acted as a guide to position the bottom sash piece. We attached the bottom sash piece to the wall by using the Kreg pocket hole drill bit and screws.
Dane Good Tip: Drill the holes so they will be on the top of the bottom sash. This will keep them hidden from your view.
Step Two: Painting
Dane Good Tip: Paint the stop pieces, bottom sash and the transom before installation. This cuts down on awkward painting positions after installation. Don’t worry about taping the glass. We tried it first but it wasn’t worth the effort. Paint in the seams help seal each window pane into place. Excess paint on the glass can be scrapped off with a fresh razor blade.
Step Three: Cut and Install the Stop Pieces on One Side
We purchased 3/4″ trim to act as the stop. There are several different styles of this size trim so head to your lumber yard or home improvement store and pick out the style you like.
Measure the thickness of the opening compare it to the thickness of your transom. Install the stop pieces on one side so that the transom can be set into position.
Step Four: CAREFULLY Install the Transom
This part was scary but very rewarding. Install the transom and nail one stop piece on the other side to keep it in place. Then install the remaining three stop pieces.
Step Five: Caulk and Fill in Nail Holes
Once all the stop pieces are in place, caulk the gaps and fill in the nail holes. Touch up the areas with paint as needed.
We plan on adding additional trim around this door in the future, but for now we are enjoying the additional character these transoms add.
The large transom in the dinning room entryway definitely needed trim right away. We added trim typical of craftsman style homes. We’ll post another tutorial on craftsman style trim as we are converting all of our windows and doors to have this style.