House doors: The basics

         
         
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  The front door you choose will impact on the overall look of your home  

Doors are part of the general access points to the buildings and rooms we use every day. They may not be something we think about very often, but they actually play an important role in your home. They can provide privacy, security, noise reduction, and insulation to a space. 

 

Doors can also enhance the overall look of a room and be a key part of the decoration. If you're looking to replace one or more doors, or need doors for a new build, it's important to choose the right type and style to fulfil the purpose and suit the look of the space. Doors can be put into two broad categories - internal or external. These two types of door require very different properties.

 
         
  Wonkee looks at doors  

In this guide, Wonkee Donkee will be looking at internal and external doors for your home; what is available, what is the best to buy, and why? The door which is best suited for any particular entrance will usually depend on where the doorway is positioned, the space you have to open the door into, and the dimensions of the doorway. There are plenty of options available for both types of door. Hopefully, we can help you pick the right one for you.

 
         
 

Wonkee Donkee XL Joinery is an official stockist of XL Joinery doors, frames, and other products, delivering across the UK to furnish your home. Whether you want to replace a front or back door, a kitchen or bedroom doors, or replace all the doors in your home, we should have something to suit you that's produced to the highest possible standard. 

 
         

How do doors work? -

Common opening mechanisms of doors

         
     

Hinged doors 

 
  Hinged doors are usually single leaf doors or double leaf doors  

Most doors around your home probably work by swinging on hinges. A hinge acts as a bearing or pivot point between two rigid objects. The two sides of the hinge are usually restricted as to how far they can pivot past each other, as most hinged doors can only be opened in one direction - either inwards or outwards - and they will either have a left-handed or right-handed swing.

 

For more information see: How to determine the swing of a door

 
         
  Hinged doors use a hinge as a pivot to open and close on  

Hinges used on doors come in a huge range of styles and types. They're made from various materials, and can have different finishes. Typically, internal doors  use at least two or three hinges and  need to have three or more hinges, depending on how heavy the door is and how strong the hinges are. Most hinges have a specified weight they can hold when a certain number of hinges are used. 

 

Hinged doors need to be fitted correctly, otherwise, there is a risk of the door failing. They can become loose or sag over time, especially with heavy doors, but hinges are generally easy to adjust or replace.  A door leaf is a single, independently moving panel of a door - the single-leaf door is the most common variety.

 

A door leaf is a single, independently moving panel of a door - the single-leaf hinged door is the most common variety, but room divider  frames can be used to accommodate double doors or doors with slight light panels.

 
         
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  Stable doors have two halves which open independently to each other  

Some slight variations of hinged doors include stable doors, also called half doors, which are separated horizontally across the leaf. Each half can be opened and closed independently of the other, or they can be bolted together to be used like a conventional door. They are commonly used to let air and light into a room while the bottom half is kept shut to restrict entry. 

 

Most of the doors available from Wonkee Donkee XL Joinery are hinged doors, that includes all standard Internal Doors  and doors used for Easi-frame room dividers . Standard external panelled , glazed , or unglazed  doors are also hinged doors, as well as the French door sets and complete door frame sets.

 
         
      Wonkee Donkee says "Hinges were so important to the ancient Romans that they had their own goddess – Cardea."  
         
     

Sliding doors

 
  Sliding doors move on rails to open and close  

Sliding doors move horizontally across an entrance to open and close it. They have rollers or bearings which run along tracks allowing them to move easily. They are often used where doors that swing out on hinges wouldn't be practical, as sliding door do not need floor space to open into, although folding doors are often used instead.

 
         
  Sliding doors move on rails to open and close  

They will either be top hung or bottom-mounted. Top hung sliding doors are suspended from two or more hangers positioned at the top of the door leaf. The hangers fix to rollers containing wheels or ball bearings. The hangers take the weight of the door while the rollers move back and forth along a track. 

 

Bottom-mounted sliding doors, like top hung sliding doors, have rollers which run along a track, but they are attached to the bottom of the door and the track spans the door sill. They have a guide track at the top of the door frame, which keeps the door aligned as it moves, preventing the door from coming off the tracks. Bottom-mounted sliding doors are used when the door leaf is heavier as the weight is supported from below, which makes for a firmer running track.

 
         
  Sliding door run along a track. They can be hung from the track or mounted on top of it.  

They come in many different designs, styles and layouts. They may run on a single track, or two or more parallel tracks, depending on how many door leaves are used and the specific design of the doors. They usually run on straight tracks across a doorway, but some have tracks which are curved to accommodate curved doors sometimes found on conservatories and showers. 

 
         
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Folding doors

 
  Folding door fold together to open an entrance  

Folding doors are often called bi-fold, bi-folding, or sliding folding doors, because they fold as well as slide along a doorway. They can also be called accordion or concertina doors because of the way folding doors usually stack against each other when opened. They have door leaves hinged together and mounted on guides. Folding doors open horizontally across an entrance and the leaves fold against each other at one, or both, sides of the frame.

 

They need to have at least two door leaves which can fold together, but they often consist of more. They can be used over particularly wide entrances, and they don't need any wall space to move across or into. Most folding doors are held on their tracks from one edge of the door leaf, with either a pivot bar or rollers. This means each leaf is only supported at one corner.

 
         
  Folding door run along tracks which they pivot on as they fold  

Other folding doors are supported from the centre of the top edge. They work in the same way as edge-hung folding doors, they just pivot from the middle as they move across the track and stack so that half of each leaf protrudes either side of the frame. 

 

Folding doors are often used as external doors, like with the Port Vista range, so they can open up a large doorway to open the house to the outside space. Freefold folding doors are popular room dividers, and simple bi-fold doors, with a single leaf that is hinged in the middle, are ideal for use in limited spaces. 

 
         

A brief history of house doors

         
 

Ancient history of doors

 

 

 

Ancient Egyptian artist carving hieroglyphs

 

Doors probably predate written history. Any shelter created by our ancient ancestors would have benefited from an access point which could be blocked off for security or protection. It's likely the first 'doors' were animal skins draped over shelter entrances. Various ancient civilisations used objects such as heavy rocks and large pieces of wood to block entrances, restricting who could gain access.

 

In the ancient Turkish settlement of Çatalhöyük, dating from about 6500BC, the houses had roof openings which were accessed via ladders or stairs. They couldn't have doors on their outside walls as the houses were built right against each other. There were no streets or pathways between houses so they used their roofs as streets. 

 

The earliest records of doors, as we're familiar with them, come from tomb paintings in ancient Egypt. They used single or double leaf doors hung by pivots at the top and bottom, allowing them to be opened and closed. They often adorned tombs with false doors, carved or painted representations which didn't actually function. These doors were thought of as an access between the worlds of the dead and the living. 

 
         
      Wonkee Donkee says "As ancient civilisations flourished people began to accumulate valuable possessions. This meant there was an increased need for security, encouraging the development of doors and locks."  
         
 

Ancient Egyptians had wooden locks and keys for security. Front doors can be locked for protection

 

 

 

 

Ancient Greek statue

 

The ancient Egyptians are also credited with developing the first locks with keys for doors. These locks were the forerunner of the cylinder locks we use today. Made entirely from wood, they used a bolt which was activated by pins. A large wooden key, with pegs to match the pins, was used to release the bolt mechanism. The Romans refined the lock, developed it in metal, and made keys more portable.

 

The basic style of hinges that we now see commonly on doors was also an ancient invention. A form of modern hinge, made from metal, was being used at least as early as 1600 BC, primarily on doors of sacred and public buildings. It's believed wooden and stone hinges would have been used even before this. The Romans developed the hinge, and it became more common. 

 

Around the 1st century AD, during the Roman Egypt period, the Greek scholar, Heron of Alexandria, invented what's considered the first automatic door. Intended for use in temples, it would have worked with a system of pulleys which were activated by a steam engine when a fire was lit at the altar. The first electric automatic door wasn't patented until 1931.

 
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