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External Door Maintenance: How to Maintain Your Doors

As the entrance and exit to your home, it is vital that your external doors are maintained to a certain level; otherwise, you run the risk of exposing your home to potential intruders, allowing the cold to enter your house and your doors won’t look as good as you’d like them to.

Simply put, if you don’t properly maintain your exterior doors then eventually you’ll need to replace them.

Follow this simple guide, however, and you should be enjoying your external doors for years to come.

How to Weather-Proof External Doors

rain through glass

Not only will the weather eventually sap the life and looks from your doors, but without decent treating, the energy efficiency of your home will suffer. The most common material used in exterior doors is hardwood, though more expensive and secure composite doors and more affordable uPVC doors are also common. You can find out more about the types of wooden doors available in our article on the subject. Most generic wooden doors will be fitted into a simple rebated frame and a rubber seal to stop water and draughts leaking into your home, however, some doors won't include this as a standard. Here we'll go through how to draught-proof your door to stop the cold air and how to seal it to keep out water.

How to Draught-Proof External Doors

This is a rather simple DIY task that can be accomplished in a spare morning or afternoon. The first thing you'll want to check is your letterbox, as this is where most insulation is lost in many homes. You can install special frames with brushes that keep out draughts, but these can be cumbersome and will make it difficult to actually receive your mail. Something like the Ecoflap is more effective, as you can simply install it around your letterbox for very little cost. It's also a job you can easily and quickly do yourself.

As far as the doors themselves are concerned, there are many options to consider. Brush strips are very common and very effective and are often fitted at the bottom of the door, as this is where the vast majority of the draught will be entering your home. The sides of the door, meanwhile, can be fitted with foam or brush strips to minimise draughts and these can be easily installed thanks to a self-adhesive surface. Another option you might want to consider is gunned silicone, which is a cheaper, less elegant solution. Finally, the keyhole can also be draught-proofed with a simple escutcheon plate, which is little more than a swinging metal disc attached at the top of the key hole.

How to Seal External Doors

Cracks around front and back doors that allow water in could not only damage your door trim, but also cause damage to your flooring near the door. Sealing your door should mean you'll never have to worry about this. Begin by searching for any leaks in your existing sealing, you might be able to fix these leaks with a minor adjustment, but if it's worn or torn, you'll need to replace it with a new seal of weatherstripping. Measure the door frame and the width of the door itself to see how much weatherstripping you'll need and cut it to suit your needs.

Fitting the stripping itself is remarkably simple, as it should just fasten automatically to the door. Once your seal is fitted, check for any leaks (with your fingers or check if there is light coming through) and make adjustments accordingly. It's worth noting that you might need to have a few tries, as fixing the stripping too tightly can make the door difficult to open and close, but leaving it too loose will make it effectively pointless. It's a case of trial and error more often than not. Weatherstripping will come in a variety of plastics, metals and rubbers, so be sure to do some research regarding durability before purchasing.

How to Treat Wooden Doors

wooden door

Wooden doors will last a lot longer if they are treated well. Over time, the elements and general wear and tear can leave what was once a beautiful, grand and stately door looking tired and in need of replacing. Make sure you give them a good clean and re-treat every couple of years (at least).

You can choose either a water-based treatment that soak into the wood and cause the grains to raise, oil treatments, which last longer and offer added protection against UV rays, wax, which will provide a pleasing, glossy look, but will need to be reapplied a lot more often, or varnish, which is probably the best choice for oak doors. Note, however, that varnish will need to be reapplied at least once a year. If you want durability over style, an oil-based treatment is a better, longer-lasting option.

How to Paint Wooden External Doors

Painting your external door shouldn't prove any more or less difficult than painting any other surface, however, you will need to make sure you get the right paint for the right material!

When dealing with wooden exterior doors, first make sure you apply a coat of primer and then apply a coat of paint specifically engineered for exterior wood. Before you begin, you might also need to do a little sanding if the door has fallen into disrepair, but be careful not to get too carried away and always clean the door when you're done so you don't get dust caught in the paint! Note that there are also paints that will both colour and waterproof/seal your wood. If you can paint your door before you hang it, that will always be a preferable option than painting an already hung door. Allow the door to dry before you re-fit it.

How to Secure External Doors

Besides the strength of the door itself, the most important things to consider when it comes to external door security are the handle, locks, the hinges and the toughness of the glass (if your door has glass panels). If these are secure and tight then you should be safe in the vast majority of situations. Remember, however, that the standard lock for most UK homes is a five lever mortice deadlock and that most front doors should have toughened or laminated glass installed to avoid potential easy access points for thieves. As most front doors open inwards, you won't need to worry about exposed hinges being a security risk. For added peace of mind, you might also want to consider adding a spy hole and door chain.