How Much Does Basement Bulkhead Replacement Cost?

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Updated May 26, 2022
cellar doors on the side of the house
Photo: Michael Moloney / Adobe Stock


  • Basement bulkhead doors are also called cellar doors

  • They provide access to a basement from the house’s exterior

  • Basement bulkhead doors are exposed to the elements and thus require regular maintenance 

  • Occasionally, your basement bulkhead door may need replacing  

  • The average cost to replace a basement bulkhead door ranges from $500 to $1,600

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Whether from torrential rain, animal intruders, or a Kansas twister, your basement bulkhead door protects your basement and its contents from all kinds of risks. A faulty bulkhead door can result in water damage or other types of inconvenient clean-ups, so it’s important to make sure your door is made out of durable material, installed properly, and replaced promptly when its structural integrity weakens. Overall, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,600 to replace a basement bulkhead door, excluding installation and removal costs.

Minimum CostNational AverageMaximum Cost

Cost to Replace a Basement Bulkhead or Cellar Door

The cost of the basement bulkhead door will depend largely on the type of material used. Basement bulkhead doors come in wood, steel, plastic, or fiberglass. The labor costs to replace an existing door average approximately 40% or so of the total cost and are substantially less than the costs of new construction, which includes excavation and concrete work. 

Wooden Bulkhead Doors

Traditional cellar bulkhead doors found on properties across the Midwest are made of wood. While they provide some measure of protection, wooden bulkhead doors can begin to rot over time, leading to the potential for significant weather damage or intrusion. To replace, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 for pressure-treated wooden bulkhead doors, with custom-built doors being more expensive. 

Steel Bulkhead Doors 

Steel bulkhead doors can last for at least 20 years without risking significant rust damage. The weight of steel means that these bulkhead doors offer superior protection, especially when combined with a heavy chain and padlock. The cost of steel bulkhead doors averages from $500 to $1,500, depending on the style and manufacturer. 

Fiberglass Bulkhead Doors 

Fiberglass basement bulkhead doors give you the strength of steel at a lighter weight. The aesthetic of fiberglass bulkhead doors is similar to traditional wood designs, which many homeowners prefer. A fiberglass door offers a higher degree of protection from the elements without the risk of rust while also resisting age-related cracking or structural failure. Although some higher-end models may cost more, fiberglass bulkhead doors typically range from $1,000 to $2,000.

Basement Bulkhead Door Replacement Cost Breakdown

Replacing your home’s existing basement bulkhead door generally isn’t as expensive as a brand-new bulkhead installation. Still, it includes three separate tasks: removing the existing door, choosing and installing a new door, and hauling away the old one from your property. Each of these tasks carries its own price tag, although removal costs are typically in the quote you’ll get for the installation work. 

Bulkhead Door 

A basement bulkhead door costs anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the material. You can typically find a wide range of styles at local big-box home improvement stores, most of which cost between $600 and $1,200

Labor and Installation

The bulkhead installation cost ranges from $400 to $1,000. If you’re replacing the old door with a closely matched new one, there isn’t likely to be any additional buildup or concrete work to ensure a good fit. That means your labor costs will be on the lower end of the average range. Your labor cost will increase accordingly if your door installer has to chip away existing concrete or build up the existing bulkhead to support the new door. 


After installation, the old door and any associated debris will need to be hauled away. The total labor cost of installation usually includes this step—double-check before formally hiring a contractor to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the final invoice. 

Cost to Replace a Basement Bulkhead Door Yourself

If you’re fairly handy with carpentry projects, you may want to replace your basement bulkhead door yourself. Doing so can save you an average of 40% of your total costs over hiring a professional to do the installation for you. 

However, the time involved can be significant, so you’ll want to reserve a full weekend for the project. If you can persuade a similarly skilled friend to assist, you can probably finish the work in a day. Bulkhead doors can be quite heavy, so you’ll need at least one other assistant to help you move and manipulate the doors into place. 

To get the job done, have these tools on hand: 

  • A right-angle grinder and cutoff wheel: $26 for 4-hour rental; $65–$200 to purchase 

  • Prybar: $10–$15 to purchase

  • Drill with a mixing paddle attachment: $18 for 4-hour rental; $65–$225 to purchase

  • Saw: $17 for 4-hour rental;  $100–$250 to purchase

If you don’t have the necessary tools and materials, you’ll need to purchase or rent them. 

Ways to Save Money

Replacing a basement bulkhead door can potentially eat into a home improvement budget. However, there are a few extra ways you can save some money while completing this project. 

Do Comparison Shopping

To save money while replacing your home’s bulkhead door, start with comparison shopping for your new door. You can find door products at most large home improvement stores at various prices, so research your options carefully and compare costs from different retailers. 

Get Multiple Quotes

In the same way, a little research and competition can help you lower your labor costs. Get quotes from three or four different local professionals for the installation and removal work. Make sure your quotes include a full breakdown of work and associated costs so that you can be confident you’re comparing the fees on an equal basis. 

Consider DIY Installation

Finally, consider doing the installation work yourself if you have the requisite carpentry skills. You’ll still have to buy the door and materials, but you’ll save around 40% off the total price of having the work done professionally.


When should I replace a basement bulkhead door?

Look for signs of advancing wear and tear. Crumbling wood, rusted hardware, or increasingly misaligned doors are all indicators that you should begin thinking about a replacement. Although the replacement price might seem high, it’s usually best to replace the doors as soon as you notice these issues. Letting your existing doors continue to deteriorate can result in costly damage to your basement and belongings. 

Can I repair or replace my cellar door?

In some cases, you can repair a cellar door instead of replacing it. Whether or not you can simply fix it depends on how severe the damage is. For instance, if you have a leaky cellar door, you can repair it by adding weatherstripping and caulking it. For more extensive problems, like rot due to severe water damage, you would need to fully replace it. A pro can help you determine whether you’re able to repair it vs. replace your bulkhead door.

What should I consider when replacing my basement bulkhead door?

Consider your total budget when you choose your replacement door. Ask professionals to inspect the site before submitting a quote so that they can determine whether the bulkhead or surrounding materials need additional work as well. 

If you’re installing a wooden door that will rest in a concrete or stone frame, or brush up against a concrete platform, ensure that the wood portions are treated with a protective sealant. Acrylic stains generally require less maintenance than paint and will last longer without peeling.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

If you’re planning to replace your basement bulkhead doors, you might want to consider the following projects as well: 

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