How to make your external wooden doors last longer – recommended annual checks

Posted: 11 Jun, 2019.

front door welcome mat

Wooden external doors add a lot to your home: solid and hard-wearing, they look great too. But it’s important to look after these external doors to ensure they maintain not only their fine appearance, but their ability to protect your home from the weather. 

To keep your wooden door acting and looking as it should, it’s important to check it thoroughly and we recommend doing this once a year. But if you’re not a natural DIY-er, builder or joiner, it may not be obvious as to what you should be looking for, so we’ve compiled this handy list of our recommended annual checks. 

Is your door leaking?

This should hopefully be an easy one: check your door for weather tightness. It should be fairly obvious: if it is letting in water, you’ll be able to spot stains and feel dampness around the door. For further action as to why this may be the case and different solutions, read on … 

Varnish front doorDoes it need a re-finish?

Have a good look at the door, and its frame, to see that the finish is still in good condition. Tell-tale signs to look out for are cracks and peeling. If you find any, re-do the finish of the door. Paint and varnish will have manufacturer guidelines on the tin, which should recommend the number of times you will need to re-coat.  A good rule of thumb is usually every 2-3 years.

Are the hinges still stable?

A ‘dropped’ door – one that is not quite sitting in its frame as it used to – is often caused by the screws in the hinges having worked themselves loose. Another way to tell if your door has dropped is if it is dragging a bit as you open and shut it. It’s generally advisable to tighten up hinge screws by hand, with a screwdriver, as you can be a lot more in control of what you’re doing and won’t be in danger of overtightening and causing more problems. 

Are the locks still working?

This is a check you’ll be able to easily keep on top of day-to-day, as you use your door. Make sure the lock action is still easy and your key doesn’t stick in the door – as, when that starts to happen, it’s unlikely to improve unless you do something about it! A sticky lock could be caused by problems with the alignment of the door. To check if this is the case, test your key in the lock with the door open: if it works fine, the door is the problem, if not, the issue is localised to the lock. A squirt of lubricant often does the trick, and will protect the lock against corrosion too. 

Does it open and shut properly? 

Again, this is a check you’ll probably notice through regular use. If the door ‘drags’ or ‘sticks’, it may have ‘dropped’ (see above) in which case your first check should be the hinges. If this isn’t the problem, the door may have warped and this will unfortunately be due to moisture having got in to the door itself. A way to tell if your door has warped is if the problem seems worse in bad weather. The moisture swells when it’s wet, and then shrinks when it’s dry. Once a door has warped, there is little you can really do to fix it – the aim is to conduct these regular checks to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

Are there gaps around the door? 

It’s important to check around the door for excess gaps, as these can be a sign that the weather seals are wearing down – and that can lead to moisture getting in. Check the weather seals are still in good condition and doing their job. If they are not, replace them as soon as possible, as this is a much easier, quicker and cheaper fix than the whole door.

external weather barAre the threshold and weatherbar still secure? 

A threshold is the strip of wood or metal which goes across the floor, underneath your external wooden door. It gives protection against the elements. The weatherbar is the angled piece of wood at the bottom of the door itself – and it is there to deflect rain and other bad weather. Check these to make sure they are still secure and sealed, as, if they are not, it will allow ingress of water. 

Have you made any alterations to your door in the last year?

Finally, it’s very important if you have made any alterations to your door to check if any exposed timber has been treated and sealed, in line with the rest of the door. If it hasn’t, it could spell trouble!

Hopefully conducting these yearly checks will ensure your hard-working external wooden door will stay looking great, as well as keeping you dry and safe, for a good, long time to come!

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