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.

Rooms of Historical and Cultural Significance: A Window into Creative Spaces

Sometimes a room is much more than functional. Many rooms are mundane and practical, but some perform a much more important purpose. They’re inspiring or comforting, helping people to be their best selves. These are the rooms that make history.

We’ve looked through the window at some of these rooms. Whether they provide inspiration for music, writing, technology or art, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with something that began in one of these symbolic rooms. So, what do they look like? Peek through the windows below.

illustration of the interior of Steve Job's living room

Who: Steve Jobs

Where: 1982 Living Room, Los Gatos, California

What: The rise of Apple

Known for his minimalism, here’s a glimpse of Steve Jobs’ living room. Despite being a multi-millionaire at the time, you’ll notice there isn’t a great deal in his room. Furniture? Who needs it. A cup of tea, a light and some music are all he needed for inspiration.

Illustration of the inside of Frida Kahlo's studio

Who: Frida Kahlo

Where: Casa Azul, Coyoacan, Mexico

What: The Art Studio where Frida created many of her masterpieces and recovered from her horrific injuries.

Frida always returned to her family home, Casa Azul. In fact, she was born and died there. Her home, and particularly her art studio, had a huge influence on her creative work.

Illustration of John and Yoko's bedroom

Who: John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Where: Room 1742 Fairmont, The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal

What: The 2nd ‘Bed-In for Peace’ location, where ‘Give Peace a Chance’ was written and recorded

After a visit from a Toronto rabbi during their second bed in for peace, John and Yoko developed their lyrics for ‘Give Peace a Chance’. They recorded the track in this room, featuring many other personalities who supported their plight for peace.

Illustration of Roald Dahl's writing hut

Who: Roald Dahl

Where: Writing Hut, Garden

What: The room where he penned many of his later books

Roald Dahl’s writing hut was fundamental to his work. Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Welsh writing shed, and constructed by a friend, Dahl would spend his days writing in his custom-built environment. Alterations were made for comfort, to aid his writing processes and free him of any unwanted distractions.

Illustration of Ernest Hemmingway's home study

Who: Ernest Hemingway

Where: Home Study, Key West, Florida

What: Hemingway worked on the following novels in this study: Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Hemingway worked in his home study from 6am until noon, to help him avoid the stifling Floridian heat and humidity. Filled with treasured antiques and his trusty typewriter, this inspiring environment was obviously a great creative aid.

Illustration of Dylan Thomas' writing shed

Who: Dylan Thomas

Where: Writing Shed, near the Boathouse, Laugharne, Wales

What: Thomas wrote some of his most famous works here, including the poem ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’ which describes his view from the shed.

This cliff top shed had inspiring views; perfect for getting those creative juices flowing. Whilst living in the Boathouse, Thomas would retreat to his shed to write. Everything could be seen from here; from beauty and life, to death and tragedy, which all fostered creativity.

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.

Garden Ideas for French & Bifold Doors

Summer 2018 has been an unusual one for the UK.  Apart from the occasional thunderstorm, it’s been pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine, so what better time could there be to get outside and enjoy what the garden has to offer?

The good weather has inspired many of us to make changes to our garden designs – and there are few more influential features than patio doors. Choose the right set, and you’ll be able to enjoy more of your garden from the inside, and ensure that your home looks the part from the outside. Let’s take a look at a few of the best options when it comes to patio doors, and see how making changes to your garden might help you get even more out of them.

French Door Garden Ideas

icon white french doors

Icon White French Doors

While often thought of as being very traditional, French doors to the garden can actually make a great addition to contemporary homes.

A set of French doors leading to the garden make a great match for smaller properties, too.  They’re simply constructed, consisting of just two doors attached to opposite sides of the frame, which lock together where they meet in the centre.  This means fewer moving parts, which in turn means more glazing.

You’ll want to consider the direction in which your French Doors will open when planning the surrounding space.  If you’ve placed a garden table immediately outside the door, then you’ll want to allow a little extra room to avoid collisions.

It’s also worth bearing in wind speed in mind – the last thing you want is for your glass doors to be repeatedly slammed on a blustery day.

You can get around this in several ways.

You might tether your doors to the external wall using a small hook-and-chain, or you might prop them open using a rock or plant pot.

This latter option will require moving heavy objects back and forth every time you want to keep the door open, which will understandably be a little inconvenient.

We should also consider that an isolated pair of plant pots might well appear out of place.  It’s therefore worth making a feature out of it and arranging a few dozen pots around the edges of your door.

Another option is to have your doors open internally.  This will encroach on the space inside your home, but will mean you don’t need to worry about the wind.  What’s more, you’ll be able to incorporate more decorative features around your French doors, like climbing plants and other ornaments.  You don’t want to overcrowd the entranceway, as this limits how much light can enter your home; however a few subtle touches can often go a long way.

To emphasise the divide between your home and garden, you might build a set of steps from your French Doors to your patio.  You’ll be able to feel like a real Parisian aristocrat as you descend them en-route to your barbeque!

Bifold Door Garden Ideas

aspect grey bifolding doors

Aspect Grey Bifolding Doors

Bifold doors leading to your garden can look spectacular.  Their folding, sliding concertina-style design allows them to cover wall-spaces of five metres and more.  This makes them the perfect match for uninterrupted stretches of wall which adjoin the patio.

Internal bifold doors allow you to open up or divide rooms as desired.  With a little ingenuity, you can achieve the same effect in your garden.  Match your patio’s tiles with those of your kitchen-diner, and you can create a seamless living space that’s perfect for barbeques.

You might even go one step further and have the floor of your patio and kitchen align perfectly, with the rail of your bi-fold built into the ceiling rather than the floor.  This will create the ultimate harmonious living space.  This will require you to consider draughts and drainage (you don’t want water leaking beneath your door, after all), but get it right and it’ll look amazing.

If you’ve got wooden decking installed outside, then another option is to raise it to the same level as your internal flooring, and minimise the gap between the levels.

While you’re unlikely to want to match the decking with the sort of hardwood flooring you’re laying in your lounge, wooden decking allows for rainwater to drain through, and if properly cared for will last for several decades.

Bifold doors also make a great addition to conservatories and garages that have been converted into living spaces.

In the latter case, they’re particularly useful. Since garages aren’t built with light dispersal in mind, they will benefit from the glazing that a bifold door provides.  If your garage is set behind your property, then installing a large sliding door along the side of it will solve the light problem in a second, and provide you with a fantastic living area.

As with patio doors, you’ll need to think about the direction in which the bi-fold doors in your garden open.  Having them extend out from the building is a logical choice, as this will maximise interior living space.  It will, however, limit how much decoration you’re able to place immediately outside the door.  Why not counteract this by placing potted plants and raised borders on the other side of the patio?

Given the considerable size of a bi-fold door, they can dominate exterior walls; even in larger properties.  The best way to avoid this is to ensure that the room beyond is suitably varied and well-decorated, and to divide the patio with regular features.  A long dining table that runs parallel to the door will achieve this.  It’s a perfect setting for summer parties, and it’ll ensure that the eye isn’t confronted with a large empty space.

For the sake of convenience, you might wish to install a retractable canopy just above your bi-fold doors.  This will eliminate the need to clutter up your patio with parasols.  You’ll want to consider the angle at which sunlight will meet the door, however; even when retracted, your canopy might well cast a shadow over your bifold doors at certain times of day.

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.

Window Dressing Bi-Fold Doors

Bi-fold doors are a popular choice for homeowners looking to maximise light and space in their home, but dressing them can sometimes pose a challenge.

A bi-fold door consists of several panels arranged in a row.  Each is connected to the door next to it via a set of hinges, so that the entire arrangement folds in a concertina.  This means that when opened, the doors won’t intrude on the surrounding space.  You’ll find bi-fold doors on the exterior of properties, typically opening out onto the garden and patio, but you’ll also find them in the interiors of properties, often bridging kitchens, dining rooms and lounges.

Bi-Fold Doors:  Blinds or Curtains?

The complex folding nature of the bi-fold door can mean dressing them is a little trickier than dressing a standard window, but it is easier than you might think.

Dressing bi-fold doors with curtains

Curtains are a popular choice for bi-fold doors, but they pose a few problems, most of which concern space.  If your door is very tall, there might not be enough space at the top of the door to accommodate a curtain pole, which automatically rules out the possibility of dressing your bi-fold doors with curtains.

What’s more, since bi-fold doors often cover a vast expanse of wall, you’ll need a lot of curtain to cover them, and large curtains can be very heavy.  If you’re installing curtains on bi-folds in a lounge, then you might opt for heavy, blackout-style curtains, which will emphasise the problem further.

There are two problems here.

Firstly, curtains over a certain weight tend to sag.  Secondly, the heavier the curtains the more robust a curtain rail you’re going to need to hold them in place. This can bump up costs significantly.

To help mitigate this problem you might choose to opt for a lighter fabric.  Muslin or voile curtains are unobtrusive and can look spectacular, even if they aren’t quite as effective at excluding light and sound, or retaining heat, as thicker curtains.

Dressing bi-fold doors with blinds

home-interior-1748936_960_720

For the reasons listed above, blinds are often a better choice than curtains for dressing bi-fold doors, but how suitable are blinds for bi-fold doors? That depends on their type.

Roman blinds are designed to scoop up when not in use.  This means you’ll need to leave a little bit of space at the top of the door, much like curtain rails.  Roman blinds tend to be quite heavy, which could cause a problem when lifting them to the top of the door.  You can overcome this issue however by fitting a mechanised, electric retraction device – but needless to say this will add considerably to the cost.

Roller blinds suffer from much the same problem, albeit to a lesser degree; they collapse into a cylinder which takes up a little bit of room.

They’re also much lighter and often elasticated, which makes it really easy to retract them.  Venetian blinds offer similar benefits, as well as a unique aesthetic that’s proven consistently popular over the years.

Also worth considering are vertical panel blinds. Vertical blinds function more-or-less like curtains, opening from one or both sides.  Their only downside is their appearance. They can look distinctly “office-like”, which might not be desirable, especially when contrasted with a homely interior.

A problem both curtains and blinds share when fitted to bi-fold doors is what happens when the doors fold.

As they fold, they expand, which may intersect the dressing.  This means you’ll need to draw a set of curtains or vertical blinds entirely before you’re able to open the door.

Bi-fold doors with built-in blinds solve this problem.  They’re slightly more expensive, more difficult to personalise, and there are fewer of them to choose from – but they offer a clean, elegant solution that’ll suit many interiors.

So What Should You Choose for Your Bi-Fold Doors: Curtains or Blinds?

There is no one ideal solution so before you decide, consider the following factors…

Cost

The size of your bi-fold doors will affect how much it costs to dress them – but this is true of both curtains and blinds.  Of the available options, roman blinds tend to be the cheapest, but to get the best from them, you’ll need to equip them with an expensive motor.  If you’re replacing one set of curtains with another, then sticking with what you already have will minimise the costs associated with installing new rails and other hardware.

Privacy

Few of us enjoy living in in a goldfish bowl at night-time, so the main purpose of window dressing – besides decoration – is privacy.

Both curtains and blinds should perform equally here, but if you want to be extra sure no-can see what you’re up to once the sun goes down, a thick set of blackout curtains are probably your best option.

Light

One of the best things about bi-folding doors is how much light they let into the home.  A heavy set of curtains, however, will reduce this.  Even when they’re fully open, they’ll still be covering some of the window, and limiting how much light the doors let in.

Practicality

The amount of space at the top of your doors can make-or-break your decision.  If there isn’t enough space to fit a curtain rail, you’ll need to consider blinds instead.

Nicknames for Buildings Around the World, Illustrated

Today, iconic new buildings are likely to be as well-known (or in many cases, better known) for their nicknames, as they are for their design. In fact, it seems that as soon as work on a new building wraps up (and often before), the race to get a nickname that sticks is on.

Below is a series of illustrated postcards that depict some of the world’s most widely-recognised buildings as they are best known – by their nicknames.

the armadillo glasgow illustrated

Designed to extend the capacity of the SECC complex, this distinctive building in Glasgow was originally known as the Clyde Auditorium. However, it fast became so widely known as “The Armadillo” that its name was eventually changed.

the bathtub amsterdam illustrated

The delayed and vastly over budget Stedelijk Museum earned its nickname “The Bathtub” long before completion, and it’s easy to see why – this unusual construction bears more than a passing resemblance to a 100,000 square foot bath. Saying that, nobody’s really sure why. Mels Crouwel – Stedelijk’s lead architect – states the design is a “nod to the old Stedelijk’s white rooms”, but that answer does little to explain its uncanny likeness to a bathtub.

the batman building nashville illustrated

Completed in 1994, the 33 storey AT&T building in Nashville is not only the tallest building in the city; it’s the tallest building in the whole state of Tennessee. It earned the nickname “The Batman Building” thanks to its unmistakable resemblance to Batman’s mask.

the beehive new zealand illustrated

Few people hold the 60s and 70s in high regard when it comes to architecture. In fact, buildings from the period are frequently reviled, and are pulled down and replaced almost as often. New Zealand’s Beehive might be an exception. Originally conceived in 1964, the construction itself didn’t start until 1969. It was then built in stages until it was finally completed 10 years later, in 1979. Serving as the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament buildings, the Beehive gained its name thanks to its shape, which is akin to a type of beehive known as a “skep”.

the cheesegrater london illustrated

The Leadenhall Building offers 48 floors of commercial space in the heart of London’s financial district. Completed in 2014 it gained the nickname the Cheesegrater when the City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer, Peter Rees, saw the model of the building and told its designer that he could “imagine his wife using it to grate Parmesan”.

the gherkin london illustrated

Another distinctive work of architecture in London’s financial district, in 2015 the Gherkin (formerly known as the Swiss Re Tower) secured the accolade of being the UK’s most recognisable building nickname. The building is home to 33 floors of offices but is also open to the public, housing a number of venues at which you can eat, drink and enjoy the view.

the sponge boston illustrated

The Sponge is the unofficial name for Simmons Hall – a state-of-the-art halls of residence located on the grounds of MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The sponge-like effect exists thanks to the thousands of two foot square windows that adorn the building and from a distance, create an effect not unlike the holes on a sponge – something that designer Steven Holl set out to do when he was commissioned to work on the building in 1999.

How to Adjust French Doors

French doors that don’t close properly can cause a number of problems.

French doors that drag along the ground can damage the floor, and the door itself.  French doors with gaps, even very small ones, will cause draughts and pose a security risk.

white external french doors

Fortunately, most issues of this sort can be corrected with the help of adjustable hinges. Your doors might already have them installed but if they don’t, they can be purchased relatively cheaply, and fitted with the help of a few tools.

You’ll need:

  • A screwdriver.
  • A spanner or Allen key.
  • The hinges.
  • Some cardboard.

You’ll also need a willing volunteer.

How to Fix Common French Door Problems

Let’s run through the process of fixing French doors that stick, step-by-step.

If you’re installing adjustable hinges

  1. Remove the hinges from your doors. There will be two of these per side.  Use your screwdriver to remove them.  Be sure that you have a friend to hand, as these doors can be heavy, and you don’t want them to fall over.
  2. Using the original screws, attach the adjustable hinges to the doors.
  3. Now comes the tricky part. Get your helper to hold the door level with the frame, and screw it into place.  To keep everything entirely level, you might need to place shims at the bottom of the door.  A few pieces of cardboard should do the job nicely.

Once the hinges are in place…

Now that you’re done, you’ll be able to make some actual adjustments.  A set of adjustable hinges will allow for several different sorts of modifications.

If your doors aren’t quite parallel with the surrounding frame, they’ll start to drag.  This is a leading cause of French doors that hit each other.  This misalignment will develop over time, thanks to gravity and the warping of the frame. You’ll need to adjust the corner bearings, which are to be found on the bottom hinge.  Remove the cover and turn the adjusting screw to lift and lower the leaf.

The gaps might well have appeared to the sides of your door, and in the middle, which will compromise thermal insulation.   Measure the gaps carefully and adjust the bearings accordingly, making small adjustments to the top and bottom alternately, to keep the door parallel to the frame.

When you’re making these adjustments, measure carefully and often.  It might only take half a turn of your Allen key to get the job done.  Once you’re done, give the door a few test swings to ensure that they’re working as they should.

It’s worth checking the alignment of your French doors every so often (twice a year or so should do it).  Once you’ve made these adjustments for the first time, regularly repeating the feat will be easy.  More importantly, it’ll save you a great deal of hassle in the long-term!