Doors in period properties become a real nuisance over time. They won’t close properly, locks get stiff, or stop working altogether, and terrible icy draughts make their way around the door even on the more mild winter days. There is however a great number of ways to solve this.
When doors will not close properly it is almost certainly because the tread has got wet, water has sat, and absorbed into the end grain of the door. This is one of those horrible damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenarios. There is the option to plane the door to suit the frame while the timber has expanded. This poses a nasty problem. In the summer months when the timber has had an opportunity to dry fully, we are left with a gap that we planed from the door! So what do we do in this situation? The logical thing to do is plane the door and allow a 3-4mm tolerance underneath. This will be more than enough to allow for expansion in the future, but the ideal gap to install draught proofing. This is the same draught proofing system that is used in sash window repairs. To install the draught proofing system we need to remove the door, having previously marked where we need to plane to adjust the door nicely. We then plan off as required and then run an 8mm groove into the door all the way around the perimeter to hold the pile carrier and pile. This is bedded in with a silicone and will hold firmly in a couple of hours. It’s always recommended to only install the pile carrier and then once door re-hung, slide in the piles. This is because it is much easier to judge the thickness of pile required once the door has been offered in.
If removing the door and installing a draught seal feels like too much work, don’t worry, at the expense (but not too sad) of aesthetics we can tac draught proofing around the edge of the frame. Neatly sealing against the door. Then under the door we will install a weather bar which is just screwed, surface mounted onto the rear of the door to stop draughts coming through.
To deal with stiff locks WD-40 is your friend. No DIY enthusiast can be without this miracle product. Simply spray into the keyhole and then around the locking mechanism and let the magic work. Then, to handle the expansion issue we can also rub candle wax into the end grain of the door. not only will it repel the water now, but if snug, it’ll slide over the tread all the more easily. This comes with a warning. Be careful not to make your tread slippery, this would be extremely dangerous and therefore any excess, you must ensure is removed thoroughly from tread, especially if you have a stainless plate covering your timber tread. This is pretty much common sense and I am sure you’ll work a way to make your door move without making your door dangerous!