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February 21, 2013, 02:41 PM

Buying and reusing antique and reclaimed doors

By Thornton Kay

Reclaimed doors at Cox's Yard [photos Salvo 2006

Somerset, UK - Handy Hints about antique reclaimed and salvaged doors.
The vertical parts of a panelled door are called stiles, the horizontal parts are called rails. The horizontal parts of a ledged and braced planked door are called ledgers, and the diagonal parts are called braces.
When removing an in-situ door and frame for reuse, first close and lock the door and if necessary remove the architrave, then fix a batten across the bottom of both sides to hold the frame and liner rigid, then saw through the screws or nails fixing the frame to the masonry and remove the frame and door intact in one complete ensemble with hinges and door furniture all still attached. This way it will be easy to refix and none of the pieces will be lost.
Try not to remove the hinges, knobs and locks seperately, keep them on the door
Buy a reclaimed door before you design and build the new opening it will fit in so you can be sure that the opening fits the door.
If you need a set of four or six panelled reclaimed doors you will be lucky to find identical sizes, so don't worry if the widths and heights vary, just use a set of similar doors, preferably with similar architrave. The set will look fine after it is built, especially in a period home where doors are quite often different sizes anyway.
If you want a stripped door ask the salvage yard to strip it for you
Watch out that the dipping process has not weakened the glued joints
An eco-friendly way is not to strip but cover up the old paint with low VOC eco- friendly paint
Do not fit a mortice lock into the lock rail of a thin old door or thin new door made from reclaimed wood - use a rimlock instead and always fix it on the lock rail of a panelled door or the ledger of a ledged and braced door.
Look for doors with existing lock and door furniture, before the yard has stripped them
Use mortice locks with a deeper throws, say six inches, old locks have a longer throw to allow traditional knobs to be used instead of modern lever handles
Always fix locks to the lock rail of a door, not the stile
Never rebate thin hinges into the frame, simply plant them on, but always rebate the hinges into the door itself. This way the hinge will not bind, and there will be a small gap between the door and frame.
Never use three hinges on a door unless it is extremely large or heavy so there is less risk of it warping and squeaking
Cast iron hinges were recommended to get out more easily in case of a house fires, they do not buckle, so the doors will always open freely. Steel and brass hinges may buckle and stop the door from opening.
Cut doors down to fit an opening, but avoid trimming too much as it weakens the joints
Consider planting timber on undersize doors, an inch or so glued and screwed, top bottom or sides may give the size you need
Doors were made with panels to allow the wood panels to expand and contract without the panel splitting, so glue split panels, but do not glue the panels into the frame, they should be free to move. Thick paint may hold the panel rigid at its edges which may result in it splitting too.
Thick doors may be handed so you should only hang them on the hinge stile
A door opening should be 4 feet higher than its width (Traditional)
A door opening should be 4/7 of the height of the room - handy for a Roman villa (50BC Vitruvius)
Around 100,000 old doors are rescued by the UK architectural salvage trade each year but 2,000,000 more are simply thrown away. Reclaim and reuse, yes please. Destroy and recycle, no thanks.
The UK government's 'Green Deal' recommends throwing away Victorian front doors and replacing them with plastic, or tropical hardwood. Please don't do this. A DECC spokesman said that they have no estimates for the number likely to be destroyed.

Empty flats clad in reclaimed doors (now demolished)

Should DECC pay the trade for the embodied energy it saves?

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SalvoWEB: Doors for sale
Cox's Yard: Reclaimed panel doors

Story Type:  Feature

ID: 73118

        
 
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