Door TLC: repair and restoration built to last

A simple and solid panelled wooden door is a feature of your home that you should barely have to think about. Given a little care, your home’s interior doors will always work efficiently and will last far longer than you. But meddling, mistreatment and misguided renovation can mean that your doors are in need of repair, overhaul or even replacement.

country home

When buying a new home you may be lucky enough to come across a property with all the original doors, including door handles and locks. But you may also find that your home now has hollow, featureless doors. There is nothing wrong with flat or flush doors in the right property period, but most of our period homes do benefit from the original style of panelled door. Not only will the solid panelled doors hang better, they can also do more to protect you from fires.

So, do always give the doors a knock when you are looking around houses, as that should indicate whether the doors are hollow or solid. You may even be lucky and find that what looks like a flat-faced door is actually a panelled original that was covered with some hardboard or plywood during the 1960s or 1970s. A beautifully-preserved wooden door may sit underneath and can easily be restored by a professional, stripping away the paint to reveal the wood finish.

Your doors may well be the last feature of your home that you choose to repair or renovate, but it’s always worth getting an expert in to assist you for at least part of the job. Hanging doors, for example, can be difficult for an amateur to do well, so it can be best to get a traditional craftsman or carpenter/joiner in to help you with the task. It will save you time, as well as splinters.

Getting the correct gap at the bottom of the door, for example, is a skill in itself, especially in a home where you have carpets where there once were solid wooden floors. An amateur could easily spend time sawing more and more off a door to make it even, only to end up with a draughty and uneven mess when the door is hung.


The most common problem with doors is that they become creaky or wonky. These problems are usually caused by the same thing and that is the door’s hinges having shifted or become damaged. In most cases a simple touch of oil will stop the creaking, but a skilled joiner or carpenter who works with doors regularly will be able to spot whether the hinge housing is out of alignment or is too deeply housed. Inexpensive solutions can be effected in just a few minutes and can stop the annoying creaks and groans that your door emits.

A more complex problem may be a warped door, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a new door fitted. An expert tradesperson will be able to flatten out your door so you can keep the original with all of its fittings. They will also be able to repair cracked or splintered areas of wood.

Original doors also demand original fixtures and fittings, whether the native door furniture was bakelite or iron. Simple original fittings can be maintained and repaired by a craftsman who works largely with doors or windows and they can also source replacement parts for you.

Jammed locks or cracked bakelite handles may have you looking at new replacement parts. But don’t do this without first consulting an expert. They may be able to save you money and save your door’s original features. Many are also able to strip paint away from these features, chisel out new housing for them or simply clean up tarnished or rusted spots.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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    1. Hi Tayo,

      To post a job on Rated People, you’ll want to use the main webform on our homepage at After that, up to three tradespeople will be able to contact you to quote on your job and we’ll send you their profile pages which come complete with ratings and reviews from previous Rated People customers to help with the hiring decision.

      Kind regards,

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