Category Archives: Technical Tips

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Guide to Trimming Hollow Core Doors

Do you know what type of doors you have in your house? Most likely, they’re hollow core doors, since these are the most popular internal doors in use today. Even so, the phrase ‘hollow core door’ may not mean anything to you.

Read on for more information on how hollow core doors are structured, the pros and cons of hollow core doors, as well as some tips on how to resize hollow core doors.

What is a Hollow Core Door?

Wooden doors come in three types: solid wood, solid core and hollow core.

As you would expect, solid wood doors are made from thick slabs of wood. They are strong, secure and are good insulators. They are also rather costly which makes them a natural choice for external doors.

Solid core doors have a thin veneer of high-quality natural wood fixed over a core of engineered wood, such as HDF.

Hollow core doors, contrary to their name, do not have an empty void at their centre. Instead they have a thick solid frame, and a core made of plastic or cardboard. This core is usually constructed in a hexagonal ‘honeycomb’ pattern; one of the strongest structures found in nature. This makes the doors more solid, robust, and soundproof.

Hollow core doors are lightweight, easy to fit and inexpensive, which makes them a popular choice for internal doors. They are also very versatile. This honeycomb core can be contained within a variety of veneers that can be matched to any decor. They can even be made to resemble far more expensive solid wood doors.

Why Might You Need to Trim Your Hollow Core Door?

There are a number of reasons you might want to trim a door. You might have an awkward door frame in a non-standard size that makes purchasing a new door incredibly difficult. You could estimate the size or even misread your tape measure. Mistakes do happen, and can mean that when your new door turns up it’s an inch too tall for its frame.

You may even need to resize old doors. After installing a plush new carpet with a deep shaggy pile, you’ll probably notice your doors start to catch. The thicker the carpet, the more clearance it will need, but a new door might seem a daunting expense after replacing flooring.

Could it be quicker, cheaper and easier just to trim the existing doors instead?

Can Hollow Core Doors Be Trimmed?

The short answer is yes, hollow core doors can be trimmed.

Hollow core doors have a strong block outer frame, which leaves a couple of inches of solid wood at the top, bottom and sides of the door. When it comes to allowing for alterations, this frame makes them a lot more forgiving than you might think. This counts for the sides as well as the bottom and top of the door.

This answer does come with a ‘but’ though.

While it is possible to trim hollow core doors, it isn’t always advisable. Removing an inch or two to allow for a thicker carpet or misread tape measure is fine, but cut off too much and you may notice that the bottom of the door is no longer solid.

When this happens, the structural integrity of the door can be compromised. This can be fixed by reinserting a block from the bottom of the door, inside the veneer using glue. Though this may sound simple, it can be fiddly. There is a lot of potential for it to go wrong, leaving you with a door that is even more unsuitable than it was before. In general, it’s advisable to avoid going to these extremes.

That said, if all you’re looking to lose is a thin layer from your door, then read on for a quick guide on how to trim hollow core doors.

How to Trim a Hollow Core Door

What you need to trim hollow core doors:

  • Sheets or paper to protect the surface of the door
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Guide wood
  • Utility knife
  • Jigsaw or circular saw

Instructions:

  1. Measure up

Measure how much you want to shave off the door. Make sure you measure the door frame in three places: both sides as well as the middle. This will give you the truest possible reading and minimises the risk of mistakes.

Remember, you only have about an inch and a half available to lose from the average hollow core door. If you need to take off more than that, think about replacing the door instead.

  1. Mark the door

Start by drawing a pencil line to show where you’re cutting, then grab a knife and a guide and score the surface of the door. This helps stop the door splintering when you start sawing it.

  1. Mask the door

Wrapping masking tape around the bottom of the door will also help prevent chipping or splintering. Another tip is to wrap the foot of a circular saw with tape, as this can protect the surface of the door from damage as well.

  1. Cut the door

The big moment. Use a guide and keep the saw steady to ensure a clean straight edge and minimise the risk to the door.

  1. Sand the door

Use a fine grit paper to smooth off any rough patches on the cut edge. A hand sander will obviously make this job quicker and easier, but try to be gentle and restrained, or you may wind up losing more height on the door.

  1. Finish

Obviously, what you do here will depend on the door’s appearance. You may need to repaint the bottom of the door, or simply stain and varnish it. Whichever way you need to finish your doors, ensure they are completely dry before you re-hang them. This will benefit your door and your carpet.

Trimming hollow core doors is possible, but not always easy. It can take a seasoned DIYer, particularly if you’re trying to lose a lot of width or height, and it can be intimidating if you don’t have the right tools. Hopefully this post will have helped you decide if it’s a task you are ready to tackle.

Folding doors

Different Door Styles, Finishes and Compositions Explained

There are many variables to doors. From the structure, to the style, to the finish, there are options at every stage of construction. Cost, appearance and customisation will all play a role in deciding which doors you need. This post will give you some guidance on the technical terms involved so that you can make an informed (and correct!) choice.

What Are the Different Cores and What Do They Mean?

The biggest difference between doors is the kind of core they have. This will affect how effective the door is at soundproofing and insulating, and has the biggest cost impact.

What is a Solid Core Door?

A solid core door has a thin veneer of higher quality wood, glued to a thicker piece of composite wood such as HDF or particle-board.

They are a good middle ground between solid doors and hollow core doors, so they share many of the benefits of the other two door types. They insulate quite well and provide good soundproofing qualities. The interior composite wood can also be treated to make it flame-retardant – most fire doors will be solid core.

What is a Solid Door?

A solid door is formed from solid slabs of wood, with no veneer or separate core. The type of wood used can differ, from hardwoods such as oak, to softwoods like pine.

Solid doors are the most robust type of door you can buy. Strong, secure and effective heat and sound insulators, solid doors are most often used as external doors. They should last a long time, even against the onslaught of the weather. Their main drawback, of course, is cost. They are very expensive in comparison to other door types, meaning they are impractical to use as internal doors.

What is a Hollow Core Door?

A hollow core door has a thin veneer of higher quality wood, just like a solid core door. They do have a core, but that core is made of paper or plastic (usually in a honeycomb pattern).

Hollow core doors are the most common choice for internal doors. They are lightweight, easy to fit, and affordable. This is usually the determining factor when you consider how many doors the average 3-bed house might need. However, this type of door can feel quite flimsy, and will not do a great job at insulating or soundproofing.

What Are the Different Styles of Internal Door?

Visually, the core of a door doesn’t make much difference. All doors can come in a range of styles. Here are a few of the most common styles you could choose between.

What is a Flush Door?

A flush door has a completely flat surface. Commonly, this style of door is used internally and has a hollow core. They are often painted, rather than stained, and have a contemporary, minimalist feel. For this reason, they are popular in modern properties and may look out of place amongst more traditional décors.

What is a Panel Door?

Panel doors are so-called because they have ‘panel’ shapes indented into their surface. These doors can be highly versatile, from the number of panels featured to the materials used in them. The panels do not have to be rigidly square shaped, and can feature glass panels or arch-shapes for more individuality.

This variety means you can find a panel door to match most interiors. From modern, minimalist to classic cottage, you will find a panel door that suits.

What is a Ledge Door?

A ledge door (also known as a cottage door) is made from full height vertical boards which are braced with horizontal rails across the length of the top, bottom and centre of the door. A good quality wood is often used to make these, and then simply stained or varnished to show it to its best advantage.

These doors are not particularly versatile but are beautifully rustic and make a perfect feature as part of a traditional country cottage décor.

What Are the Different Internal Door Finishes?

Once you’ve chosen the core of your door, and the style of your door, your final decision is what finish you want. There are three main finishes you can choose from, depending on how much work you personally want to put into perfecting your door.

Unfinished

An unfinished door will arrive sanded but otherwise untreated. It offers the most flexibility, as you can chose which products to use at every step of the painting process.

Primed

A primed door will have also been treated with an undercoat to minimise the work you have to do at home. They will be ready to paint from arrival and are a good middle ground if you want a door in a specific colour, with as little hassle as possible.

Find out how to paint a door here.

Pre-Finished, Finished, or Fully Finished

A finished door arrives ready to hang. It will have been treated with a primer undercoat, then painted, stained or varnished, depending on the look. It is the most expensive finish and is the least customisable, but it is easy and hassle-free.

Learn more about the differences between prefinished and unfinished doors here.

With so many variables involved, choosing a new door can be daunting. Now you should be better placed to make an informed decision to find doors that are as effective as they are attractive in your home.

Bi-Folding Doors and Traffic Doors

Bi-folding doors are perfect for opening up a living space. They’re formed of a concertina of panels that move as one along a single track. This means bi-folding doors can be manufactured to fill very large spaces, and as such they’re often used to bridge the gap between a living space and a garden.

Bi-fold doors come in several varieties. There are those that open from a single side. There are also so-called ‘French-Fold’ designs, which consist of two equal-sized groups of panels which meet in the middle. Finally there are those that consist of one large group of panels, and a single traffic door.

What is a Traffic Door?

A traffic door is a single, ordinary door positioned immediately next to a folding door, giving the impression of a single, cohesive unit. You should be able to spot the traffic door in the picture of our Aspect Grey Bifolding Doors below – it’s the one with the handle.

Aspect Grey Bifolding Doors

Most traffic doors are functionally identical to an ordinary single door, featuring a lever handle and a key cylinder. In some cases, they’re part of the bi-fold system itself, and are set within one of the central panels.

Why Might You Need a Traffic Door?

If you need access to your garden, a traditional folding door has some distinct disadvantages. There’s a reasonable amount of effort involved in opening and closing them, for starters. What’s more, this extra effort means they take longer to open and close. This is turn means that in winter, they’ll let lots of cold air into your home.

Thankfully there’s a simple solution – traffic doors.

Traffic doors allow you to enter and exit your home without having to pull open the full set of doors. You can even do this when the main doors are locked from the inside, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a bi-fold without compromising on security.

During the height of summer, you might get away with leaving the door open all day. You won’t be able to do this in winter. Given that UK summers tend to last for just a few weekends (if that), and winters can last for what seems an eternity, the merits of a traffic door speak for themselves.

Do Bi-Fold Doors Always Need Traffic Doors?

In some cases, a traffic door isn’t required. If there’s another point of access to your garden in an adjacent room, then a traffic door isn’t really necessary. You might instead install a bigger folding door. If, on the other hand, the folding door is being regularly used for trips to the dustbin, or as the main point of entry to the home, a traffic door becomes pretty essential.

Generally, the larger the bi-folding doors, the less prominent a traffic door will be. This means that on very small bi-folds, you’ll find that the traffic door takes up a considerable amount of space. In fact, you couldn’t install a traffic door into a two panel folding door at all (this means you’d probably be better off fitting external French doors, instead).

Questions to Ask Before Buying a New Door

Doors impact the security, heat-efficiency and visual appeal of a building, and homeowners interact with them repeatedly, on a daily basis.

This means that before buying new doors, you should be sure to ask a few key questions in order to gather the information you need to make the best possible decision, and save yourself trouble further down the line.

Here are some of the most important questions to ask before buying a new door.

What Type of Doors Do I Need?

Doors come in several different types and needless to say, you’ll want to pick the one that’s best matched to your needs.

Am I buying an external or internal door?

external french doors

Aspect Grey French External Doors

This distinction is self-explanatory: internal doors separate the rooms inside your home; external doors separate your home from the outside world. The two do very different jobs, and as a result are constructed quite differently.

What material should the door be made from?

The material a door is made from will have a significant impact on its appearance and how it functions. Most interior doors are made at least partially from timber, but there are several different varieties of timber door to choose from.

A solid wooden door is made from the same material all the way through, which makes it more vulnerable to warping. A composite door, on the other hand, is formed from many different lengths of wood with grains that run in different directions. This helps reduce warping.

Exterior doors are commonly made from uPVC, timber, a composite of materials, or aluminium. The former (uPVC) is cheap and lightweight, while the latter (aluminium) is considerably more expensive.

What style should the door come in?

The style of door you choose is a matter of personal taste. You’ll want to pick something that you’re happy to look at, and that’ll match the rest of your décor. If you’re considering redecorating, then you’ll have the luxury of choosing a door and working the rest of your interior around it.

What type of door should I choose?

There are several types of door:

  • Single doors constitute the vast majority of doors in the UK. As the name suggests, they are formed of just one panel.
  • Double doors are effectively two single doors set into the same frame. French doors are a variety of double door.
  • Bi-fold doors consist of several panels that join together in a concertina, and run along a guide track. This design allows for the creation of very large room-dividing doors, and small ones which are used for storage spaces where there’s no room for a traditional single door to swing outward.
  • Sliding doors are made from panels set into a long track. They slide behind one another to create an opening.

Do I Need a Door or a Door-set?

You’ll have the choice of buying your doors as separate panels, or as complete sets including a frame and an architrave, with ironmongery pre-installed.

Buying everything separately will allow you to tailor the door to your exact requirements. You don’t need to be limited by what manufacturers think looks good – if you want to pair a specific handle with a specific door, you’ll be able to do it.

On the other hand, a door set will guarantee everything matches, and they’re easier to install. They work best with new openings, where you won’t have the cost of removing the old frame to consider. If you’re carrying out major renovations and are already bringing a carpenter on-site, it might make economic sense to bring in single doors – especially if you don’t want to rip out old frames without knowing exactly what you’re going to find underneath!

Do I Want Unfinished or Prefinished Doors?

Timber doors are sold either unfinished or prefinished. An unfinished door will allow you to apply the finish of your choice. A prefinished door, on the other hand, has been finished at factory level. This should mean that the finish is longer lasting and more resilient than what you would apply at home.

If you’re applying an opaque finish, you might consider a happy medium: doors that have been treated just with a primer. Since most primers are either white or black, you get a compromise between flexibility and convenience.

How Much Can I Afford to Spend on New Doors?

Doors vary considerably in price. A set of high-quality folding doors could easily cost in excess of a thousand pounds, while an affordable single door might cost less than a hundred. That said, there are hidden costs to consider.

Installation Costs

You might think to cut costs by opting for a disassembled door and putting everything together yourself. If done properly, this can indeed be a good way to save money, but then, it depends how valuable your time is. An improper installation might need to be professionally corrected, and in the case of external folding doors, might leave your home vulnerable to break ins.

Maintenance Costs

Timber doors will need to be periodically sanded and refinished to guard against water damage (and ensure that the door looks the part). This means investing in a pot of finish, brushes, sponges and sandpaper – as well as setting aside a weekend or two each year.

Have I taken correct measurements?

Before you make a purchase, you’ll need to be sure that your new doors will fit into the aperture you have in mind. You’ll find a quick guide to the measuring process here.

Do I need Fire Doors?

In some instances, you’ll need an interior door that’s a little more robust. Fire doors are thicker and more resilient than standard doors, and feature an expanding strip around the edges, that together serve to slow the spread of fire through your home. If a building is more than two storeys tall, then fire doors are usually required. This means tower blocks as well as loft conversions.

Fire doors cost slightly more than standard doors, but you might think it worthwhile if you’re installing them into sensitive areas like kitchens and garages.

Installing a Peephole in a Wooden Door

peephole in wooden door

A peephole is a tiny glass window set into the centre of a front door. It’ll allow you to see who’s at the door, without having to open it (or, if you’re quiet, reveal to the caller that you’re in). Since they’re so small, peepholes have minimal impact on the way your door looks. They’re really simple to install into wooden doors, too – especially with the help of our short guide.

Tools Needed to Install a Peephole

To begin with, you’ll need a few tools:

  • A drill
  • A 3/8” bit
  • A spade bit
  • Silicon sealant
  • Goggles
  • A piece of blue tape
  • A stepladder
  • A pencil
  • A tape measure
  • The peephole, and any tools that came with it

Measuring for a Peephole

There’s no set height for a peephole, just as there’s no set height for a human eye. You’ll want to use your tape to mark a spot that can be reached by every member of your household. Remember that it’s easier for taller residents to stoop for a moment than it is for shorter ones to stand on tiptoes.

Use a tape measure to measure the width of the door, and mark the central point. As ever, it’s better to measure several times and drill just once. Mark this point on both sides of the door, then measure the depth of the door, and mark your 3/8” drill bit with tape accordingly.

Drilling a Hole for a Peephole

Now you’re ready to drill a pilot hole using the 3/8” bit. To avoid splintering, drill from the exterior until it’s passed through the door. The tape will let you know when this has happened. To keep things at a right-angle, you might wish to stand on a stepladder.

Once you’ve drilled the pilot hole, select a spade bit that’s matched with the diameter of your peephole’s barrel. You’re now ready to install the peephole.

Installing a Peephole

The peephole itself is a tube consisting of two parts. There’s the lens, which has a threaded cylinder attached, and there’s the barrel, which is threaded on the inside. Install the lens from the exterior of the door and then screw the barrel in from the interior. Make sure to double check that these are the right way around, since it will be difficult to reposition them once you’ve applied a sealant. Looking through either end will make it obvious which end of the peephole should go on the inside of your door.

You won’t need much sealant to keep the tube water-tight; just a drop around the lens will be enough. Your peephole should have been sold with a special tightening tool. Failing that, you can always use a coin.

How to Properly Measure for a New Door

Installing a new door might seem a little daunting, particularly if you’ve never done it before. By far the most important thing to think about however, is how to measure for it.

Let’s run through the process of measuring for a new door.

tape measure

Measuring the frame

It might be tempting to measure the door you already have in place. After all, if that fits, then surely your new one will, too?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

Over its lifespan, an old timber door will warp. It’s far better to measure the frame into which your new door will be installed, instead.

If you’re going to be fitting an entirely new frame, then you will want to double check its size. Most frames will fit standard door sizes, which will help cut costs, but if you’re after something bespoke, then you’ll need to be extra precise.

Before you get started, you’ll need a tape measure.

Step 1: Measuring the height of a door

First, measure the height of the opening in three places: the left, right and middle of the door. These three measurements should be within ten millimetres of one another, or else the entire frame will need to be swapped out. You’ll want to use the shortest of these three lengths; that way you can be sure that the door will open and close properly.

When making these measurements, be sure to account for the height of the carpet, doormats or any other obstacles. That way you’ll be sure that the door can swing freely.

Step 2: Measuring the width of a door

Next, it’s time to measure the door’s width. You’ll do this in much the same way, except horizontally along the bottom, middle, and top of the frame. Use the shortest of the three measurements to determine the maximum size of the door.

Step 3: Measuring the depth of a door

The final step in measuring a door opening is the depth of the door. Internal doors typically come in three different thicknesses, the most common of which is 35mm (although thicker insulating and fire doors might be 40mm or 44mm). Measure at various points along the interior of the frame to be sure of which you need.

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Picture of a house

Energy efficiency is – or should be – a pressing concern for homeowners.  Wasting energy harms the environment, but it harms your wallet, too.  It’s more difficult, after all, to heat a building from which heat is able to constantly escapee.  It’s like trying to carry water in a leaky bucket.

Fortunately, energy-savvy homeowners have quite a few different tricks at their disposal to help get those energy costs under control.  In this article, we’ll run through a few of them.

Insulation

Efforts to keep a home energy efficient will inevitably focus on insulation.  Let’s consider the basic science: if a body of hot air and cold air are placed next to one another, the heat will be drawn from the former to the latter until the two are equal.  In practice, this means that heat will drain from the inside of a house to the outside.  In order to prevent (or at least, slow) this transfer, we must place an obstacle in the way.

Doors and Windows

Anyone who knows anything about energy efficiency will tell you that the weak points of a house are its doors and windows.  This is where the insulating material is necessarily at its thinnest.  More substantial doors will generally do a better job of retaining heat, and windows can be made better insulators through double glazing – in which two sheets of glass are used, with a layer of inert gas (or an inert gas like argon) in between.  Unfortunately, such windows may not be and option for owners of listed properties, as they tend to give the window a warped look from the outside.

As well as keeping heat in, doors and windows must also be able to exclude draughts.  The problem with many doors and window frames is that they are made from wood, which will expand and contracts in response to seasonal changes in moisture and temperature.  Over the years, this rhythm will steadily cause the gaps between the wood to grow, which will give heat the opportunity to easily escape the building, and cold draughts the opportunity to enter.

Before we can prevent those pesky draughts from stealing their way into our property, we must first identify where they’re coming from.  This is largely a straightforward matter of common sense – older doors and windows will generally more vulnerable than newer ones.

If you’ve got the sort of windows that open, then draughts can be excluded using strips.  These come in several different forms – foam strips are cheaper, but their metal and plastic counterparts are more substantial, and longer lasting.  If you’ve got windows that slide, you might instead consider brush strips, while for permanently-closed windows a silicone sealant might be preferable.

Gaps around the bottom of a door can be plugged using just about anything in a pinch – from a rolled-up blanket to a pillow.  If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, then you might instead consider a brush or a hinged flap.  Ultimately, however, old, draughty doors will have to be replaced with new, more substantial ones.

Of the doors in a house, those on the outside are the more important, and the front door most important of all.  For this reason, it’s the most deserving of attention.  Keyholes and letterboxes represent vulnerabilities; in order to minimise draughts, they should be plugged.  Where keyholes are concerned, this can be done by fitting a cover, which comes in the form of a small metal disc which hinges down over the hole.  Such items can be bought from any good DIY store, and installing them is usually quite straightforward.

Walls

While doors and windows represent obvious chinks in the building’s armour, it’s also worth considering its walls – which constitute most of its outer surface area.  Walls can be made to be better insulators through cavity wall insulation.

A cavity wall works through a similar principle to double-glazed glass.  It consists of two thin walls with a gap in the middle.  If your house is more modern, then this may be filled with insulating material, which can be either mineral wool, beads or granules, or foam.  Houses built in the last hundred years will have a cavity wall, which can be filled with insulating material.

As a general rule, you can spot a cavity wall from the outside of the property.  If the bricks are all laid lengthways, then this is a sure sign that the cavity is present; if some of them are laid at a right angle to the wall, so that only the shorter end of the brick is visible from the outside, you can be fairly sure that it’s a single solid wall.

The Energy Savings Trust estimate that the costs of installing cavity wall insulation will be recouped within the first five years – the larger the house, the greater the potential savings.

Pipework

The metal pipes which carry hot water through a house are also vulnerable to losing heat.  This can be addressed by insulating the pipes.  Foam rolls can be used as an insulating sleeve, and large gaps around pipework can be filled using special polyurethane foam, which expands as it dries and sets hard, thereby ensuring a tight fit around the pipe.

Behavioural Changes

Whilst installing insulation throughout your house can help to minimise unwanted heat transfer, it is not a magic bullet – even the most well-insulated home can still suffer if its occupants indulge in wasteful behaviour.  Both water and energy can be wasted as a result of long showers, overfilled kettles, and taps that run constantly during teeth brushing sessions – as demonstrated rather succinctly by this video from the Energy Savings Trust.

Smart Meters

Other ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home include installing smart meters, which allow homeowners to observe changes in their electricity and gas consumption at a glance.  This in turn enables them to make better, more informed decisions about their home energy usage, and eliminate wasteful behaviour.  The government intends that all homes and businesses have smart meters installed by the year 2020.

What Type of Door Do I Need?

What type of door do I need?

So, you’ve decided it’s time to remodel your home. You spend some time thinking about wallpaper, carpets, lighting and furniture – but what about your doors? Believe it or not, the style of door that you choose for each room can make a huge difference, not just to how the room looks, but the amount of usable space you have, the amount of natural light you enjoy, the temperature, and even how noise travels in your home.

Here’s a quick look at the types of doors that are available to you, and how they affect your home.

French Doors

French folding doors are stylish and iconic. They create big openings and they allow a lot of natural light into the room. If you use one as a divider; between your living room and kitchen, for example, then you can enjoy all the benefits of open plan living and still have the chance to close the doors when you want to, either to make the living room easier to heat, or to cut down on noise so people can be relaxing in the living room while the chef is at work.

French doors make great room dividers, and since there are various different leaf sizes, you can easily find the perfect style to suit your home, with openings of 6ft – 8ft available, and other sizes on offer for traditional builder openings, a French Door will suit almost any home.

External French Doors are also available, and they offer the perfect way to make your home feel bigger and to let you take advantage of a nice garden view. However, for security and insulation purposes, it is vital that you have these doors installed by a professional.

Bifolding Doors

Bifolding Doors are similar to French doors, except that they fold in a slightly different way, collapsing into themselves rather than swinging wide. They are top-hung, and they have no threshold or base track, unlike sliding doors.  This is important because it means that you can have through flooring installed, without a break, making it ideal for people who want to enjoy the benefits of open plan living, with a door there when they need it.

If the path that French doors follow when they open takes up too much space, then Bifolding doors are a great option, both internally and externally. Just like French doors, they come in a range of materials and sizes, and you can get stylish timber bifolding doors that offer good thermal performance and that are sturdy and secure. Thermal ratings of 1.8w/m2K are available.

Sliding Patio Doors

Sliding patio doors got a lot of bad press a few years ago for being a security liability, but this is unfair. While it is true that poorly fitted, low quality doors can be relatively insecure and can also be drafty, high quality doors that are professionally installed quite safe. The days of doors that could be trivially popped off their runners are long gone.

Modern patio doors have secure runners, strong frames, and highly insulating double glazing that keeps heat out in the summer, and in during the winter. The doors slide freely, opening to provide a nice large space for you. There is some burden of maintenance in that the runners must be kept clean and oiled, and the top and bottom runners mean that there will be a small lip or break in your tile or carpeting. If you want patio style doors to your conservatory, and don’t want to have a break in the carpeting, then you might not like this. For most people, however, it is not an issue.

Sliding patio doors have declined in popularity due to the fact that only 50% of the door can open, meaning you will always have a large obstruction that cannot be moved if you needed to fully open the doors for any reason – such as moving furniture in or out.

Standard Doors

Sometimes, you don’t want an 8ft wide door, you just want a standard door to fit a normal doorway. You have a lot of choices even when that is the case. From UPVC doors with large glass windows, to steel-cored doors for maximum security, or heavy wood. You may opt for period-style doors to math what your neighbours have, or something lighter and more modern looking.

When you are choosing a standard door, your main concerns will likely be security (a steel cored door with a good lock system, fitted to a sound frame, can be incredibly secure), insulation (check the thermal rating on the door), and weather-proofing. Treated wooden doors can be secure and warm but if they are going to need refinished frequently, and become high maintenance because you live in an area where the weather is constantly bad or saltwater is going to damage the varnish, then you may prefer a different finish. UPVC frames tend to be hardwearing and long lasting, but they sometimes discolour with age and that is harder to put right than cracked or peeling paint.

When it comes to internal doors, you don’t need to worry about insulation or security as much, but there are other things you might want to think about. Large glass panelled doors may not be ideal if you have energetic children who love to play with a football in the hallway, for example! Nor would such a door be suitable if your teenage son is learning to play the guitar and you want to enjoy peace and quiet in the living room. Remember, your doors act as an insulator, a sound barrier, and a room divider. Think about all of that when you are planning your next purchase!

Conclusion

It’s easy to dismiss a door as just being a portal that you walk through, but the right choice of door can make a big difference to the atmosphere of your home and the feel of each room. Before you start renovating your property, stop and think about what you want to achieve with each room. This will help you decide what sort of doors to buy. Consider playing with some room design software, and thinking about things like the direction the doors open in, or the method for opening the doors.

How to Replace a Door Frame

Close up of a door

If your door frame is warped or damaged, then not only does this make your room look bad, it could also lead to a sticking door, damaged carpets and even potential security problems if the damaged frame is a part of an external door which no longer locks properly.

The good news is that replacing a damaged door frame is a task that is well within the reach of a determined DIY-er. Here are a few tips to help you complete the job.

Time Required:

Allocate a full day to remove the existing frame and architrave, then fit the new one and replace the architrave/patch up the surrounding plaster.

Complexity:

This is a medium-difficulty job. You do not need past experience, but it is best left to a professional if you are not confident, don’t have a lot of time, or aren’t able to get someone to lend a had.

You Will Need:

  • A screwdriver
  • A pair of safety goggles
  • Crowbar
  • Spirit level
  • Plumb line
  • Chisel
  • Screws
  • Hacksaw
  • Emulsion
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Some spare wood
  • Sealant
  • A new door frame kit
  • Mortar
  • DPC Strips

Internal Doors

To begin with, measure the width and height of the existing opening, and add an extra 10cm to allow for the new frame. This is the size of the door frame that you should purchase. You can trim the height of the frame down to size if you buy a frame that is too big, so err on the side of over-sized if you aren’t sure what to buy. It is more important to make sure that the width of the frame is correct.

Be careful when handling the frame after it is delivered. Keep it flat whenever possible and do not rest anything against it; this will help to prevent it from becoming warped.

Before you can fit the new frame, you will need to remove the old one. Firstly, remove the existing architraving. If you do this carefully you may be able to re-use that architraving once you have fitted the new frame. If the architraving is set into the plaster, then you can remove it by using the sharp corner of a chisel to cut into the point where the plaster meets the architrave. If you do this carefully you should be able to minimise the damage to the plaster, ensuring that any patch-up job requires minimal effort.

Next, chop away any plaster around the opening, and any sealant, to expose the frame, then cut through the fixings that hold the door frame in place. Once the frame is loose, you can make it easier to pull out the jambs by sawing into the top-centre part of the jabs at a 45 degree angle. Break away the jambs from the masonry, and then use a crowbar to lift the frame out.

Once you have the frame removed, you can start preparing to fit the new frame

  1. Clean the opening and remove any debris, then apply some DPC strips to the underside of the opening. These damp proofing strips will stop moisture from penetrating the frame and damaging your brickwork. For extra damp proofing, coat the nails that you use to hold the DPC strips in place with a suitable emulsion.
  2. Place the new frame into the opening, and hold it in place using wooden supports. Use a spirit level and a plumb line to make sure that the door frame is completely straight and centred. If it is out of alignment, use shims to correct this.
  3. Drill three holes into each jamb to fit the screws. Make sure that the holes are evenly positioned, to spread the load correctly.
  4. Use screws to secure the frame in the opening.
  5. Carefully fill any gaps between the door and the wall with mortar.
  6. Once the mortar has set and completely hardened, apply a mastic sealant around the outer edge of the frame.
  7. Fit your door into the frame
  8. Replace the architraving, if necessary.

Working With External Doors

If you need to replace the door frame of an external door, it is often better to do so using a pre-hung door kit. These kits are already weatherproof, so you can be confident that you will get a good seal between the door and the frame, and that the door will lock securely too. You will still need to make sure that the door frame is secure in the opening to prevent damp and leaks and ensure maximum security, but replacing the door as an entire unit takes away some of the burden.

Conclusion

If a door frame is rotten or damaged then it is a good idea to replace it. However, it must be done carefully to ensure that the frame is straight and plum, and that the door hangs securely in the frame.

The decorative architraving will hide any minor mistakes or cosmetic damage to the plaster around the wall, but it is important to work slowly and carefully to ensure that the door is perfectly aligned and that the frame is secure and weather proof. If you are completely renovating a room, you can replace the door frame first, then plaster and paint, to ensure a nice, smooth, clean and professional finish.

Installing a new door frame is a job that you can do yourself, in a pinch, however, installing a full pre-hung door, or a new solid door, is something that is best done with a helper. Doors can be deceptively heavy. Your existing door may swing nicely in its frame, but that is because the hinges are taking a lot of the weight. When you remove the door from the hinges, you may be surprised at how heavy it feels – especially if it is not a hollow door. Rather than trying to move it by yourself, and risking injury, have a friend or family member on hand to help.

How to Correctly Hang & Install a Door

Folding doors

Interior doors can last for a very long time, and can be easily given a new lease of life just by changing the handles or giving them a lick of paint. However, sometimes you will want to replace them – perhaps you want a completely new design, or the door that is in place right now is warped or damaged. Replacing a door can be a tricky project, and ideally you should have someone with you when you do it, since some doors can be surprisingly heavy. Here are some tips for fitting a new door.

DIY Overview

Time Required: Allocate a day to prepare the door frame, remove the existing door and hang the new one.

Difficulty: Moderate – it is best to have some DIY experience, and to have someone on hand to help you move the doors, which may be heavier than they appear at first glance!

Option 1: Slab Doors

The first thing you will need to do is remove the existing door. Start by breaking apart the caulking surrounding the door trim. Use the sharp corner of a chisel to do this. Next, break away the trim, working slowly and carefully. With luck, you will get the trim off unspoilt, so that you can easily replace it once the new door is in place.

To remove the existing door, remove the nails or screws that attach the door frame to the studs on the wall. Next, close the door and have a friend help you to tip the door backwards, towards the direction in which you took away the trim. The door should easily fall out of the opening.

Fitting The Door

Before you start work, make sure that the floor is flat and that the frame is straight. Use a spirit level and a plum to check this.  Next, measure the space of the opening, and if appropriate trim or plane the frame to make space.

If the door frame is already in place, and you are simply hanging the door inside the frame, then the first thing to do is place the slab inside the existing frame, and then make sure that it lines up perfectly with the frame. Use shims at the bottom of the door to do this.

Once you have the perfect alignment (so that the door does not catch on the frame or the floor when it swings, mark the position of each hinge. You need three hinges to provide optimal support. Drill holes for the hinges, and fit them, taking care that you fit them on the correct side of the door for the direction that you want it to swing.

Secure the hinges, and test that the door opens and closes smoothly. If you are not satisfied with the movement, adjust the hinges (most hinges have a screw that allows you to do this) to adjust the angle and tightness of the door.

Most issues with doors occur because the floor is not level, or because the door is angled and the jamb has not been trimmed to take this into account. If the jamb does not line up properly then you will end up with a latch that is too loose, or that sticks.  Sometimes, trimming the jamb will not be enough. If the floor slopes by more than 1/2inch from one side of the door to the other (you can measure this with shims), then you may need to trim the door itself.

Option 2: Pre-Hung Doors

Slab doors tend to be less expensive than pre-hung doors, but take more work to install. A pre-hung door comes already attached to a door frame. In theory, you could open and close the door within this frame, but it is not a good idea to do so because without walls supporting the frame, the wood is quite fragile and could easily become misaligned.

A pre-hung door is quite heavy, and will need two people to manoeuvre it. Installing a pre-hung door is generally easier than installing a slab door, however you will need to shim the frame correctly. Poor shimming could ruin the fit and movement of the door.

The main reasons to buy a pre-hung door would be if:

  • There is no door frame in the opening at the moment
  • The existing door frame is rotten, warped or damaged.
  • The door frame is open/exposed, and you will be doing extensive remodelling.
  • You are installing an exterior door. In this case, using a pre-hung door will save you from having to waste time making the slab-door weathertight.

Some Final Tips

For a perfect door fit, it is imperative that you have an accurate level. You can test the accuracy of your spirit level by laying it on a flat surface and making a note of the position of the bubble, then flipping the level over and checking the position again. Use a proper spirit level instead of the app that is available for some smartphones.

If there are no carpets in the room, but you plan to add some at a later date, leave 3/8 inch gap between the floor and the bottom of the door to allow space for the carpet.

Conclusion

Hanging a door can be a time consuming and labour-intensive process, and if you make a mistake it will not only affect the look of the whole room, but also potentially leave you with a sticking door, or cause damage to your carpets.

If you have the time and patience to install your own doors, and are confident in your ability to follow detailed DIY instructions, then you may enjoy the project. However, if you do not have a lot of time or you are worried about making a mistake, it makes sense to call in a professional. A qualified joiner will be able to install a new door for you, including the frame, far quicker than the average DIY enthusiast. Paying their fee will save you from stress and the potential time and material costs associated with making a mistake.