Castle doors, do they really fend off armies?

IMG_1079Last week I took a family trip to the Western Lake District and visited Muncaster castle, a historic castle with a history of extension and restoration. It’s difficult to pin a date on the castle’s history as it’s thought the Roman foundations would date back as far as 79AD. But according to the history the castle and lands were granted to Alan de Penitone in 1208 and fifty years later a castle was built by Gamel de Mulcastre. As with all family days out where there’s some unique architecture I’m drawn towards taking a look at the variety of doors. Muncaster castle was no exception and I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity in style of both the castle and it’s doors.

As would be expected, the main front door to the castle is a grand size, surrounded by a gothic stone arch. I would estimate around 1.5 meters wide and at the peak of the arch around 3 meters. I could only take a guess at the timber type being oak, but the door is built with a rustic planked style with heavy black cast tee style hinges and stud work, adding to its authenticity. I love this type of hardware style, especially with the black studs which used to be a sign of wealth in the 1600’s. Historically door studs held iron plates onto the face of the door to protect against arrows and the like, from an attacking army.But my guess would be that today’s weapons wouldn’t be fazed by such armour. Many of the other doors are in similar styles with smaller dimensions and less hefty hardware, but some of the door styles came as a surprise. One in particular door with 18 glazed panels drew my attention. The door didn’t look out of place, but it’s not a style that I would have thought would suit a castle and certainly wouldn’t offer much protection from attackers.

At Kershaws doors we supply a large range of doors and traditional rustic hardware. We’ve never had to supply a castle door, but if it’s a truly custom option then the sales team will be more than happy to take a look at your enquiry and decide if it’s something that can be manufactured. Similarly we have a broad range of hardware suppliers, not all hardware options are listed on our site, but if it’s something specific then ask the sales team who can usually attempt to source most door hardware.

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Britain’s Modern Architectural Heritage – High and Over

unq-internal_white_prefinished_kensington_6-panel_insituWhile watching TV recently I caught a snippet of a program referring to High and Over House in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. I had forgotten this property but seeing it again I recalled it from my architectural research done at Art College.

This modernist house, built 1929-30 and designed by architect Amyas Connell, is considered to be the first and finest Modern style property built in Britain, consequently it has a Grade 11 Heritage classification.

Amyas Connell was a New Zealander and a student of the archaeologist professor Bernard Ashmole, Ashmole asked Connell to design his home in 1928. The site was found and the plan of the house was designed in a distinctive ‘Y’ shape to make the most of the sun and the surrounding views. The 3 wings of the property radiate from an hexagonal hall, this I presume, will give good light filled interiors and is a plan not often seen due to the meagre plots of land used these days.

As with other modernist houses built at this time it would have inspired a great deal of interest and controversy both from it’s appearance and the internal concrete block and external brick with render construction used. I see know that this property is for sale and presumably it will be purchased by a lover of the modernist architectural style.

As a door supplier we are often contacted by Listed Property Owners who have specific requirements for new timber doors due to the Grade 1 or 11 listing. As we are able to supply both Internal and external doors in bespoke sizes and styles we ask customers to send us details of accurate measurements, timber types and and information from the listing in order to give them an accurate quotation. These orders are particularly fulfilling for us and for the customer when fitted and completed.

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Summer heat, how does it affect your doors?

The temperatures last week reached a magnificent high with reports of up to 36.7°C in some parts of the UK. We can certainly say summer is finally here after months of standard grey dull weather. The heatwave along with a couple of calls from customers having trouble with their doors, inspired me to write a quick blog entry on the effects of heat on timber doors. Timber doors as with many other materials can be affected by temperature and climate, more so here in the UK where our weather seems to swap between extremes in a matter of days or recently even on the same day.

So here’s a quick insight into how wood reacts to heat and how we can minimise and protect our timber doors.

Beach Huts

Brighton Beach Huts, image © Kevin Poh and used under CC license

If we look closely at timber it is far from a solid material, the formation of the timber as it grows is made of individual fibres and cells. These have a moisture content, and this moisture when in tree form allows the tree to not only live, but to adapt should there be a change in the climate or temperature. It is known as a hygroscopic material, meaning it can naturally expel and absorb water from its surrounding environment. When timbers are subjected to heat, the water it contains expands and so does the timber. In an equivalent way to heating water in a pan makes it turn into steam and expand. Heating usually causes timers to swell and potentially warp or twist. If the moisture in the timber can escape it may even cause the timber to shrink when it cools later in the evening. How much your door changes with the temperature depends on a variety of factors including the species, construction and treatment of the timber.

So, how do we protect our doors from this staggering summer heat? We and our importers employ quite a few differing methods;
Firstly the timbers are treated at the factory to optimise their water content. Timbers are usually kiln dried or left to rest to reduce the moisture content down from its natural state. This adds strength and reduces the weight of the timber before it is manufactured into a door.

The majority of our doors are of an engineered construction, this construction can vary dramatically between door types, but overall an engineered construction generally means that the door resists the natural movement of timbers. A major advantage, especially for external doors where the timber is subjected to the most extreme climate.

Storage is also a huge factor. Our importers ensure that the doors are stored at the correct temperatures and aren’t left in contact with the ground. All our doors are imported ready packed in substantial plastic sleeves. This plastic sleeve doesn’t just protect the doors in transit but it keeps the moisture content at a constant, which is why we say when you unpack your doors it’s important to apply your finishing product right away. If the room is hot the doors may begin to lose moisture, or too damp and they may absorb it.

Finishing is most certainly the most important part in protecting a new door from the heat, as well as UV if your doors is in direct sunlight. Many products are available for finishing timber, but its most important to use the correct products to seal your doors so the moisture content is preserved. Finishes such as Sikkens Rubbol or Sadolin Ultra are recommended by us as we’ve tried and tested them on our external doors for many years and know them to be most effective in sealing the timber and protecting the wood from UV.

If you’re in doubt as to how to finish your doors then take a look at our finishing guidelines or don’t hesitate to get in touch with the sales team on 0800 002 9440, they’ll be more than happy to discuss the best products and methods to use on your timber doors.

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Improve the exterior of your house – look at Exterior Design Photos for ideas

Image © Neosnaps, cropped and used under CC License

Image © Neosnaps, cropped and used under CC License

There are so many ways we can find inspirational ideas for our properties these days and as I am always interested in Interior design and Architecture I have links to websites such as Houzz and Pinterest. The regular updates I get from these sites are fascinating and make me want to transform aspects of my home that are yet to be completed.

A refreshing feature of ideas sites is the variety of property types featured, often home magazines feature a particular focus on contemporary or traditional homes. However, inspirational property and interior ideas websites usually feature compilation images based on say exterior doors, windows or garden rooms for example, which helps when renovating or embarking on building projects.

If you are about to start repairing or renovating the exterior of your property then I would suggest you search through these sites as part of your research before making firm decisions about the look of your own property. Its not a matter of copying others ideas it’s a very sensible way of seeing what looks good on a similar house.

Don’t be put off by seeing grand properties which do not seem to relate to your own. I suggest focussing on particular detailing such as a door and the placing of the fitted hardware to maybe the external door canopy and right down to the Wisteria growing around the door. It’s amazing to get down to the intricate details which really make something attractive and pleasing to the eye.

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When to make changes to interior decoration?

Its interesting to find out why people make changes to their properties. Working in the architectural and interior design industry for many years I have come across so many different reasons for redecoration and renovations.

rollerPurchasing a new property, whether a new build or an older property, is a prime reason for a full renovation. As a species we need to put our own stamp on our environment regardless of whether we are happy with the decor we inherit, even if with only the addition of a painted wall or a new wallpaper.

I am so pleased that wallpaper is now back in fashion. I worked for a while in a branch of the wallpaper industry which was primarily aimed at the contract market. At this time wallpaper was slightly out of fashion for domestic interiors as some great paints in exciting new colours had come onto the market. However the contract market, particularly for hotels, was buoyant due to the protection that wallpaper gives to walls, something which is often forgotten when choosing to paint a wall. Recent innovations and great designs have now made wallpaper a trending item. If designs are used in clever ways a wallpaper can really enhance an interior.

As a budding Interior designer aged 12 (yes I started early) I had permission from my parents to redecorate my bedroom. Funds were limited and I remember choosing a wallpaper pattern in grey with deep red and lime green images of rock-n-roll dancers as it was the 60’s, probably hideous now but I thought it was great at the time. But the most distressing memory of this was what I did with the bedroom side of the lovely Victorian, original, 4 panelled pine doors. I painted them Lime Green then covered the inner panels of the door with a cherry red, padded and quilted PVC fabric generally used for covering chairs. It was useful as I could pin notes and other valuable mementos of my youth onto the door but I do remember when my tastes had changed that it was a challenge to remove this material ready for a more conventional paint finish. Oh well there is no accounting for the tastes of a teenager and it was a great learning curve for me.

Victorian style 4 panel Pine doors are still one of Kershaws Doors best sellers, I wonder how many are given a unique treatment like my bedroom door.

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Free 0800 numbers from mobiles from 1st July

phoneThis Blog is primarily to give our customers important information about contacting us by phone when requesting information regarding timber doors or when ordering.

Have you been informed by your mobile provider that from the 1st of July telephone numbers with the prefix 0800 & 0808 will be free when made from mobiles? These numbers have historically been free to landlines but incurred charges to mobile users.

Just incase you have missed this I want to remind you that in May we changed our free advice number to 0800 002 9440 ready to comply with this new ruling, as part of the UK Calling changes. (UK Calling is the name given to the changes that are being introduced to make telephone charges clearer).
Alternatively you can use our landline 01274 604488.

Prior to July 1st calls to freephone numbers were typically charged between 14p and 40p per minute and typically 20p which makes a lot of difference over a usual call length. (Blog written June 2015). some of these services were important ones run by the government and NHS departments. Consequently Watchdog Ofcom published proposals to end this rip-off pricing situation used by mobile phone companies

A spokesperson for the telecoms price comparison website say’s “ we welcome moves to make the price of calls clearer to consumers” -

These mobile charging changes are good news for people calling companies such as our door showroom and when interacting with TV shows that ask for phone votes.

To find out about the cost of other service numbers such as 084, 087, 09 and 118 we advise you to contact your provider.

If you are in any doubt regarding the charges your mobile provider is charging we would advise you to contact them before making these calls.

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Interior White Doors – do you need help in choosing?

unq-internal_white_prefinished_kensington_6-panel_insituWhite doors are a very popular and top selling product at Kershaws Doors Ltd, particularly for home renovation projects. We have a large selection, choose from Designer White doors, White Panelled doors and White Custom Made doors. It can appear to be difficult for customers to sift through the choices therefore to make this easier there are a few pointers relating to our website which will help in your search.

  • Firstly decide on the style of white door you are looking for.
    Traditional or Contemporary?
  • Your white door prefered finish.
    Completely Pre-finished i.e. no painting required or Pre-primed ready for top coats
  • Next the style of door. Contemporary (Modern) or Traditional?
  • Do you need a custom made and bespoke size Door?

If your main priority is the type of finish Then:-

  1. Go to our 1 Doors Website and click on top bar on Internal Doors
  2. The middle of the 3 drop -downs will display White doors.
  3. The left hand side has filters used for all our door searches, the white doors are ticked
  4. Above this is the Finish Section, you can choose the Pre-finished doors or the pre-primed (you will find more choices in the pre-primed section)

So thats the finish,

If the style of white door is your priority then look at the top of the filter section and you will see Modern, Cottage and Traditional use these separately to filter the options.

If you also require Fire Rated doors then use the filters found at the lower end of this section, you will see lots of options here.

You can also use the first drop down menu in the far right section to look at Bespoke Doors (Custom Doors) and glazed doors which may also relate to your search criteria.

Following these guidelines will hopefully help you but customers do say our website is easy to navigate. and remember if you need help it’s often easier to give us a call or send an email with your requirements. Our sales staff are there to help you all they can.

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Needing Timber Doors and Timber Floors?

Underfloor Heating

Underfloor Heating image © Martin Pettitt & used under CC License

I was recently discussing door designs with a customer who was asking about the construction of our timber doors and had wondered whether they were made from solid pieces of timber. This led into a discussion about the fact that most doors are engineered nowadays as the laminated construction provides a more stable and strong timber door.

The customer also mentioned that they were looking at timber flooring supplies for the house they were renovating and as they were installing underfloor heating in the property their chosen flooring company had advised them to choose engineered timber flooring as opposed to solid timber planks. I explained that this advice related well to why our timber doors are also engineered and that the flooring company had suggested engineered planks due to better stability with changes of temperature very near to the flooring.

This conversation highlighted the close comparisons between timber doors and timber flooring both in timber types available and their construction methods. Another main point raised was the finish of the doors they would choose in comparison to the finish of their timber flooring choice. Again very similar finishing choices are available dependant on the style of door chosen. Choosing a timber door with a Satin varnish finish is a popular choice as it provides a subtle sheen which gives a good appearance and enhances the timber grain. An oiled natural appearance which also enhances the grain of the wood is often used on solid timber floors, though requires more maintenance than varnishes. However, an oiled finish is not recommended for engineered timber doors as this can interfere with the veneer construction. There are matt finishes available which replicate a natural oiled appearance so ask our sales team at Kershaws Doors Ltd for advice on the Pre-finishes on our doors, alternatively many designs are available unfinished so you can choose your own but please ask us or look at our Door Finishing page on the website about our recommended products from Sikkens and Sadolin as the wrong products can affect the warranty.

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Bricks and Mortar – there’s a lot more to a home!

House Extension

House image © Allan Crutchley

I few months ago I noticed a medium sized, detached, late Victorian house for sale in my area, it particularly interested me as the billboard said For Sale by Auction with plans for demolition. Now, although this house was in need of repair, it did not appear to be in need of demolition and the other houses built very close to it were in good condition, so I presumed there must have been a structural defect. Nevertheless, months have gone by without any change then I drove past the other day to see the demolition work in progress. There was a large skip and an extremely serious looking vehicle ramming into the lovely Yorkshire Stone walls. The following day I had to drive past again and to my surprise the house had been completely razed to the ground apart from a small pile of rubble, making a very sorry sight.

Seeing the speedy demolition of this house made me very thoughtful about this building, it had looked sad and neglected and maybe it was beyond making good but it’s demolition was a poignant reminder of the saying ‘here today – gone tomorrow’. I wondered about the families who had lived there in the past, particularly the first Victorian family opening the door of this new build home with the highest specifications of the time. I always look upon a house as a building with greater significance than other buildings as it is a home where we raise our families, where there are births and deaths and all the other major experiences of life. A home is our haven and when we own it we are the custodians for the years we are in residence and we can change and decorate it to suit our finances and our tastes. Yet we will move from it someday and hopefully, leave it in a better state than we found it.

I’m writing this in a thoughtful mood but what heartens me is the amount of people who buy from Kershaws Doors Ltd, I wondered about the families who had lived there in the past, particularly the first Victorian family opening the door of this lovely Yorkshire Stone house which will carry on into the future and hopefully built and cared for better than this sad house I recently saw knocked down. The good news is that it appears a builder has purchased this house for the land and will undoubtedly build a few houses on the site, so providing lovely homes for others to enjoy with their families, all good in the end.

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Front of House – Spring Renovation

AcaciaAs the weather warms many of us are starting to venture outside and take a look at the garden and outside of our properties with a view to improving the appearance.

The first thing you may notice is your front door and this is likely to require a little cleaning or a touch up or it may be time to replace it with a new one. If you are looking for a new door then take a look at the Kershaws Doors website where you will find a fantastic range of internal and external doors. You will also find a selection of traditional and contemporary door hardware. If your door is not fitting correctly also it’s worth considering that the door frame may require some attention or maybe needs replacing. It’s amazing what a difference a lick of varnish or paint will do to freshen up tired woodwork, you can find a selection of recommended door finishing stains for both internal and external timber at Kershaws Doors.

Other things you may consider for improving the overall first impression of your home include your front garden and cutting the grass and clearing the weeds will make a big difference. Even if space is limited, you may consider a couple of containers with plants or flowers to brighten up your entrance. Potted trees either side of your door can provide an elegant look and compliment a new timber front door.

If you have a driveway and/or path then you will want the lead up to your door to be in top condition too. Clearing away the weeds with weed killer or a trowel will help and you could give the area a good clean using a pressure washer which should restore the stone to a brighter finish.

Finishing touches include cleaning the windows and watering the plants then you can sit back and enjoy the work you have done or at least feel better in the knowledge that your neighbours and visitors to your home will notice the extra effort you put in.

Posted in External Doors, General | Leave a comment

Reuse An Old Door

1930's Shed doorI’m not usually one to sit down and write a blog post, but a recent trip to visit family in the Lake District reminded me of an image I’d seen of a garden shed made from doors. More importantly the shed was built using reclaimed doors, and this got me thinking about the various uses doors and other timbers could have after they’ve been discarded from use in a property. The door that I’d seen on my visit was very similar to our Kershaws Heritage No.16 door, a retro, 1930′s styled door with a sunburst glazing design. This door looked a little out of place when being used as a shed door and obviously hadn’t had a fresh coat of paint for many years. Due to quality construction and the 1930′s craftsmanship the door was evidently holding together well as it appeared to have survived the elements for a number of years.

Another project, I’ve seen recently, used old UPVC patio doors that were being replaced as a frontage for a garden workshop. This seemed like a fantastic re-use for these large glazing panels and the end result was a smart timber framed garden room with plenty of light. I was hoping that the author would have used other reclaimed timbers for the rest of the project, but he had created the timber frame and cladding from new timber lengths. Using new timber obviously has it’s advantages, and I’m guessing in this case probably the new wood was easier to source in the correct sizes.

I’m hoping to replace my front door later in the year, it’s south facing and has to deal with quite a bit of weather. Unfortunately the elements have taken their toll on my front door as it now leaks when we get heavy rain which is probably due to the fault of the previous owner of the property who didn’t retreat the door periodically with a coat of stain. Maintenance is needed for timber doors before they start to look weathered and is easier to do before problems arise. I’m considering reusing the old timber door by trimming it down a little and using it as a new side door to my garage, with a bit of careful re-adjusting, filler where needed and a few coats of paint I think it’ll be a good replacement to the plain planked door that is on the garage currently.

I wonder where some of our doors will end up in the future? Perhaps you’re looking at purchasing a new front door and have a project in mind to reuse the old door?

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Keyless Doors -are they the future?

August Smart Door Lock

August Smart Door Lock

I have often wondered why we remain so reliant on a physical key for our house doors. Earlier today as I was fumbling around for my door key in my bursting handbag with the rain and wind thrashing down on me, I wondered again why don’t we have a better system for gaining entry to our doors?

There are various alternatives available. We only have to look to the car industry to see devices which work when you are in close proximity to your car so no more hunting around in your handbag. Also there are fingerprint or iris recognition systems widely in use in airports and high security locations, which may offer a slightly more secure option. A key pad entry system outside your door would also be possible where you simply enter a code or password to gain entry as you typically see at the main door for an apartment or in a commercial property. While we seem to be inundated with passwords in every other area of our lives, particularly anything online, I don’t know many people with codes for entering their homes.

In fact, it seems that there are many of these types of systems available so no need to write to Dragon’s Den with the idea, however it strikes me that we are traditionalists at heart and most of us like the feel of a key in our hand. As a nation we seem to like to personally lock the door behind us and feel safe in the knowledge we have physically turned the key in the lock.

At Kershaws Doors we do not sell any of these keyless door gadgets as yet, however, we do sell a wide selection of quality doors and door security hardware. In the future we may offer a wider range of high tech security systems if people start to show an interest in such devices.

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Women Won’t Pay More For Doors

image © Tax Credits and shared under CC license

image © Tax Credits and shared under CC license

A recent study has found that women in the UK are regularly paying more for products that are a direct equivalent to men’s products. This is particularly true for cosmetics and personal care products, such as deodorants, razors and perfumes, but it also applies to services, including insurance, car repairs and hair cuts. Given that women are reportedly paid 10-20% less than men in the workplace, this is disappointing and irritating for us female folks. Some psychologists have actually suggested that many women like to pay more for their products and gain some kind of satisfaction for paying more.

At Kershaws Doors we do not have different prices for men and women for our doors. I think that we have a fairly even split of male and female customers and we have noticed over the years that women are increasingly involved in the decision to buy doors. We certainly see more women in our door showroom than in previous years and we receive more phone calls and email enquiries from women.

We tend to find that our top quality doors are equally appealing to men and women and we do not see any need to promote them differently. We certainly wouldn’t charge more to a woman for the same door, we try to be competitive while supplying good quality products. The Kershaws Doors team includes men and women which helps us to see things from both sides and can be useful when selecting new timber door designs for our collection. We often work together to design and choose doors that will appeal universally to men and women. Whether you are a man or woman, we are sure that you will be impressed with our wide selection of internal and external doors and you can be assured that there will be no discrimination on prices.

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Vivaldi Internal Door

At Kershaws Doors we have a collection of Pre-finished, internal doors called Vivaldi. This includes two complementary styles including a prefinished Oak door with Walnut inlay vivand an inverted design featuring prefinished Walnut with Oak inlay.

Vivaldi Walnut

Vivaldi walnut with oak inlay

There are also two glazed versions available which include three large square panels of clear glass. The doors can all be fitted either way round allowing you to choose the side for the off-centre vertical inlay of Oak or Walnut. These are modern doors which are available in a wide range of sizes with thicknesses of 35mm and 40mm and also supplied as 44mm thick FD30 Certified fire doors.

There is only one other Vivaldi that I am aware of and I assume that these doors take their name from the famous Italian Baroque composer. Antonio Vivaldi is one of the most famous classical composers who was born in Venice on 4th March 1678. Taught by his father, he played the violin and while he composed for various instruments and operas, he is most famous for his violin concertos called The Four Seasons. An interesting fact about Vivaldi is that he was ordained as a priest when he was 25 and he worked in an orphanage teaching music to children.

So, from a classic composer to a classic door design, the Vivaldi internal door offers a contemporary edge that requires little preparation prior to fitting. This would be a door to attract attention and set the tone for a professional setting or a stylish home. If you have a large opening to fill then we have a standard sizes up to 915 x 1220mm and bespoke sizes going up to a huge 1220 x 2440mm. It is possible to fit 2 doors as a french pair with the appropriate french door frames fitted. Please contact our sales team on 0845 467 1910 or local number 01274 604 488 if you would like to find out more about our Oak and Walnut doors or any other doors within the Kershaws Doors collection.

Posted in General, Interior Doors, Wooden door designs | Leave a comment

The Power of Hotel Review Sites as they help improve businesses

20140804_141610We had an interesting call from a customer recently who explained that he owned a bed and breakfast and required new doors for all the bedrooms. He closely monitors the reviews that he gets for his bed and breakfast and is proud to say that the reviews tend to be very positive. However after seeing two people make reference to the shabby old bedroom doors, he felt it was time to update them. He admitted, like many people tell us, it can be difficult to recognise when it is time to buy new doors. The old doors were functional and performed the job required, however they were no longer attractive and brought down the overall tone of the rooms.

He recognises that when offering a luxury room to guests and charging a price to match, it is critical to ensure that all the furniture and fittings are in line with the expectations of customers and this certainly includes the doors. In fact, when guests first go to their room they will judge the overall package when opening the door based on the look and feel of it.

The bed and breakfast owner was delighted to say that he could update the review site informing people that he was in fact updating the hotel and buying new doors as a direct result of comments that he had read on the website. He also planned to include photos of the new doors as he felt they were stylish and worth shouting about. If you have a bed and breakfast or a hotel then you will need to ensure your doors support the overall standard of your accommodation. If you require new doors then please take a look at our website for a wide range of door sizes and styles.

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