Getting A New Door

What are the things to look out for when getting yourself a new front door?

Well, make sure you get an external quality door and one that has the correct fire rating. This post only addresses single occupancy / family dwellings. Houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) have extra fire regulations for the landlord, etc. to satisfy. We see plenty of conversions where the flats’ final exit doors are really internal doors.

Get a solid door. It should be heavy! If it’s not heavy , it’s hollow. If it’s not heavy but doesn’t sound hollow, it’s probably got a honeycomb paper fill.

Don’t get a door with pretty panels – glass or wood. You can make it look as though it’s panelled by sticking strips of molding on.

If it’s a solid door it will probably be too heavy for two hinges and will need three. Don’t let your carpenter get away with anything less than a decent quality, properly sized screw in every single hinge hole. I went to yet another door yesterday with fully half the hinge screws missing. Not only will the door sag eventually if the hinges aren’t done properly, it will be easier to kick it in at the hinge side.

If, despite all this, you still end up with a hollow door, ensure the lockblock is on the correct side. The lockblock should be marked. It’s an extra-wide piece of wood that’s thick enough to accept the latch lock and a mortice deadlock. And don’t let your carpenter put the mortice lock where the horizontal crosspiece meets the vertical (the stile). All they are doing is breaking an important joint and weakening the door.

The latch lock will typically go about one third of the way down from the top and the mortice lock about one third of the way up from the bottom. Although there is something to be said for putting the mortice lock in as the upper lock, as it is harder to kick in if it’s up there.

Obviously you want the correct size of door. I was at a door yesterday with a 2 cm gap at the top and 1 cm gaps at both sides!

A solid door that’s correctly sized and thick enough will tend to bang the frame as it shuts, so proper doors have a bevelled edge to deal with this. Naturally the bevel should be on the same side as the lock block. And you want the face with the lesser width to arrive at the frame first when closing.

If anyone thinks of anything else, why not put up a comment and I’ll extend the post.

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4 comments on “Getting A New Door
  1. Chris says:

    I have just bought a new home. It’s nice, but the man who owned it had some very odd ideas about DIY, and has done exactly what you said not to do – drilled the hole for the rim cylinder through the joint between the centre rail and the stile.

    Is there any way of strengthening the door up around that joint? I will want to replace the door eventually, but we don’t have the money at the minute. I thought about fitting a new nightlatch with a smaller backset higher up the door, then fixing steel plates over the old hole, perhaps with a coach screw. Or am I flogging a dead horse? Is the door really firewood?

    • locksmith says:

      Well yes, doubly odd. To not put the latch in its traditional place at shoulder height; and to drill through the joint.

      Still, at least it’s only a rim cylinder hole rather than an entire mortice hole. You can fit a rim cylinder with a 40 mm backset further up the door. Get a large piece of dowel (I have an old curtain pole I use) and use it to fill the old hole. If it’s a good fit and you use wood adhesive then that should add back enough strength. Then fill, sand and paint.

  2. Chris says:

    Also, while I’m here, do you sell a mortice lock that will fit my door’s rather narrow (67mm) stile? The door is 44mm thick and made of hardwood. Am I removing too much wood from the stile if I fit a 2 1/2″ mortice lock in it?

    • locksmith says:

      It does sound like a 2 1/2″ mortice lock would be too big.

      We don’t retail stuff I’m afraid, but narrow stile locks do exist. The main ones you see are 2- and 3- lever Unions but you probably want a 5-lever. Legge used to do one but they stopped. Willenhall do some and they’re not bad locks.

      If you can afford it, the bee’s knees of narrow stile locks is the Chubb (Union C series now) 3G220.

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