karty11

Should I keep original internal doors?

karty11
last month

Hi. I wanted some advice on internal doors. I recently bought a 1930’s house that needs a complete renovation. I am pretty sure the doors are original and I would like to keep them if possible (see photos). I have contractors coming in to do the work and because they have layers of paint on them, are (slightly?) damaged in places and with old handles/locks, they are adamant they should be replaced with new ones. What are peoples’ views on this? Is it worth keeping them? I looked into having them stripped and it seems quite reasonable (around £20-30 per door) but if I do that is it a)ok to fit them to new door frames? b) how easy is it to fill the gaps/fix the damage?

and c) would it then be possible to replace the handles and/or locks? Would be grateful for any advice. I am really keen to keep the character of the house and want a traditional feel. Thanks!








Comments (56)

  • Jonathan
    last month

    These doors are not that battered. Dipping allows you to start again but a good decorator can restore them without dipping. Personally I think the charm of a door that’s seen a hundred years of use far outshines a similar but brand new door.
    I would be searching online for modern chrome rim locks as I agree with the earlier statement that the combination of traditional with modern touches looks great.

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  • Dave Roberts
    last month

    I'm with the 'keep em' brigade as I'm currently renovating a large Victorian terrace and these look in a similar state to some of our doors. With a bit of TLC I'm painting them to look presentable. They're still a bit battered, but I've decided that these imperfections are part of the character of the house. A couple of them also need modifying to actually fit as there's a significant gap between the top of the door and the frame. I'd still rather pay a chippy to modify these doors to fit than put a new door in as I think that will both be cheaper and keep original features in the house.


    The difference you have is that you're paying someone to do the work and you'll need to balance the labour costs of renovating the original doors vs purchasing modern doors of similar quality.

  • annabellaamy
    last month

    Get a quote for keeping and repairing the originals (include new iron mongery) and a quote for new exact replacements. You may get a suprise !! New doors into new frames will be nicer in the long run but they need to be proper solid doors not a cheap alternative.

  • Sonia
    last month

    I have a 1930s house and I’ve kept all the doors. The one in the sitting room was dipped and then I varnished it, but I may paint it soon as I prefer painted doors. The bedroom ones we just painted white including the door knobs. I think yours could be dipped, or a good decorator could fill the gaps and paint them quite easily. Why does everything have to be brand new? I love the character of old doors, the older the better! This is one door (the dipped one) but I am itching to paint it!

  • E D
    last month

    Now that’s a ‘typical’ 1930s door!

    I think it looks lovely as it is, Sonia. 👌

    What colour would you consider for it?

  • colourwisedesign.com
    last month

    Definitely keep. We got ours dipped and stripped and then husband sanded and varnished (or maybe oiled) them with matte clear finish - they have gaps in places where the panel is just one layer of thin wood, but they add so much original character and are MUCH nicer than anything new - unless you spend £££ on new solid wood properly made doors (most people do not do this). My husband also kept all the original brass hinges and handles and cleaned them up and they're all perfectly imperfect. We kept most of the original openings and trim work too - just sanded and re-painted. We moved one door so the builders had to build a new opening for that one, but it's seamless and you can't tell new from old unless you really look at them. Only word of caution is if you are converting loft then you'll probably end up having to get new doors (or modify old ones) as old one won't meet fire regulations - but not an issue if not extending into loft.

  • Sonia
    last month

    E D I’m thinking Pigeon. I’m just mad about greens and blues, and I have far too much time on my hands looking at what could be painted! However, I do quite like it’s wooden cosiness.

  • E D
    last month
    last modified: last month

    That’s funny. I’m considering Pigeon too. Some (communal) woodwork and front door is already in Pigeon.

    Just wondering if it will look good with our Skimmed Stone walls.

  • Sarah U-S
    last month

    Colourwidedesign - even with a loft conversion, there are things that you can do to keep the original doors!

    I live in a conservation area and despite having rooms in the attic, when we redesigned the space, we had to comply with the latest building regs. The local building control person at the council was super useful - we ended up putting a special veneer in the panels to convert to ensure they met the fire regs. The product was fab - you can’t tell that it’s there at all. I also used a special paint on a different type of door to bring that up to standard.

  • colourwisedesign.com
    last month

    Sarah U-S - yes That’s what I meant by modifying the old ones, although not up to date on exact details.

  • macbroom
    last month

    What do you all think about either keeping or replacing this groovy Flemish glass door? We have replaced it with the Edwardian style door below (still needs painted) as I think it’s too much with the Flemish glass window too. I like the window and think it is part of the original 1908 cottage but I think the glass door is a step too far! It’s still sitting against the wall as my husband can’t bear to part with it and wants to put it back on. It does let more light in from the hall to the kitchen and it’s kind of growing on me too - so bad it’s almost good! The rest of downstairs doors have been replaced with the Edwardian style one.




  • karty11
    Original Author
    last month

    Hi all. Thanks so much for your comments. I am going to do some more research Re cost and then make a final decision. I don’t mind if the cost of restoring ends up being a little bit more than getting new doors. I like the idea of the chrome handles to give a modern twist. I want to keep key original features and charm of the house but definitely don’t want it looking like a museum! Final question - is it possible to do a similar thing with existing dado rail? See picture. Again it’s a bit damaged and painted over a million times. Any opinions on the paint too?! I want a strong colour on the bottom half then a lighter shade above the rail. I have a beautiful reclaimed mahogany parquet for the flooring.




  • nmlondon
    last month

    when we bought our 30s house it came with the original pine doors that were dipped. They are all warped and flimsy and look like they shrunk.. I think, but not too sure, that the dipping also altered the lock area of the door, the locks and handles that they put back on are not fitting properly anymore.

  • karty11
    Original Author
    29 days ago

    Interesting, so you wouldn’t recommend then?

  • carocat24
    29 days ago

    Keep, no question.

  • Jonathan
    29 days ago

    Dipping can weaken the joints but if you have a jointer refitting tgem after they can fix them. Separately some old doors have warped over the years usually because the house had periods of being very cold.
    If you have a warped door then you need to either live with it or replace them.
    Since these doors were designed to be painted I’m not convinced they look nice dipped and would repaint them which begs the question of whether it’s worth dipping them.

  • nmlondon
    29 days ago

    Karty11, In my case, I don’t think I would, I also find them quite flimsy, thin. But, on the other hand, I guess it would be cheaper if our carpenter just replaced the locks/ironmongery and I prep, prime and paint, there are 6 doors though.
    Jonathan’s last comment made me think - two doors upstairs weren’t dipped and stripped by the previous owners. When I had the decorator over to paint the entire upstairs, he painted the doors and they look great. However there was a lot of prep work involved. A lot.

  • sksj1
    29 days ago

    KEEP THEM. The builders just want you to fit new ones as it’s easier/quicker for them. Bit of elbow grease to sand and fill the holes then paint and fit new posh ironmongery with the money (and planet) you saved.

  • ebony45
    29 days ago

    Have you thought about having just one door stripped and seeing how that one is? Then you would have evidence to base your decision on.

  • karty11
    Original Author
    29 days ago

    Jonathan, nmlondon, thanks. Definitely food for thought. I feel like the doors are quite solid and heavy so I think it might worth a shot (depending on cost- which I still need to look in to). I do want them painted but I dont think they’re in good enough condition to do that so I thought dipping them would be easier.

  • karty11
    Original Author
    29 days ago

    Sksj1 I thought that might be part of the builders’ reasoning! Thanks for the advice.

  • Picasso
    29 days ago

    Keep them. I have a 1930s house without the original doors. The previous owners put in those horrible fake wood veneer flat doors which I've replaced. The new doors look great but each time I see original doors I wish my house had them!

  • Tim Baker
    27 days ago

    If you keep the doors don't change the door casings (frames). New doors and casings will function best as all will be square. If you prefer the aesthetic of original you will have to accept a level of imperfection.

  • HU-77161824
    26 days ago

    Hi if your looking at glass then I would highly recommend Knowsley art glass I used them to replace some glass in my internal doors. They do lots of original glass designs.

  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago

    I dropped off my 1950s house original panelled doors (I think) to be dipped and stripped yesterday. Reading this has made me worry though as I didn't mark which door went where...! They had horrible too-small brass lever handles on them all so I'll replace those but not sure with what.

  • karty11
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Josephine, would be great to see a before and after of your doors. I am sure they will be fine.

  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    You've actually highlighted that I didn't take a before photo. Doh! This should give some idea though



  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago

    sorry, it's not letting me post a photo for some reason?

  • Sonia
    26 days ago

    The App will now only let you load one photo at a time when it used to be four. It chucks you out if you try to. Don’t ask me why. Who the hell does their IT?

  • karty11
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Oh that’s annoying. Is it possible to post more than one of you try through the website? The settings might be different.

  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago

    I was on my phone - as that's where all the photos are! Now trying through my laptop...


  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago

    ooh, I think it worked! I'm renovating the whole house...hence the mess! They'll take 2 weeks to be done but I'll try to remember to post an after pic :)

  • karty11
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Ah amazing, yes would love to see them after they have been stripped. Are you painting or varnishing them? I am also doing a whole house renovation. It’s a lot of work!!

  • Josephine Scott
    26 days ago

    I'm doing as little as I can to them 😂 and yes, it's a huge amount of work. How far in are you? I've had it nearly a month and it looks like a building site but hopefully have turned a corner now...

  • karty11
    Original Author
    25 days ago

    I haven’t even started yet. Hopefully will in the next few weeks. Any tips??? I’ve got like 100 design questions I’m probably going to post on here so any advice would be much appreciated!

  • Josephine Scott
    25 days ago

    I've been posting a few! Tips...? Think about the order you do things - I ended up getting rooms skimmed way too quickly so the electrics can't be chased in easily now. Not a massive issue but annoying. I'd also try not to tackle the whole house at once next time as it's a tad overwhelming. Especially as I'm on my own and doing a lot of it myself... Good luck!

  • karty11
    Original Author
    25 days ago

    Ah ok, I’ll keep an eye out for your posts. I am getting a contractor in to do all the major work, the whole house needs Replumbing, rewiring, Replastering, but trying to do bits and pieces where I can and my parents are helping me too. The house is currently unliveable (im staying with my parents) so I do have to do it all in one go really as it doesn’t make sense to do it but by bit but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end!

  • Josephine Scott
    25 days ago

    Same as me then - I'm not living there and have a month to get it liveable 😬 it was wallpapered everywhere so I just went for it with the stripping! I'm hoping I'll get there in the end...!

  • Josephine Scott
    25 days ago

    Oh god I've fallen down a rabbit hole of what door furniture to put on my doors :o

    Have you thought about that yet? I think I prefer knobs... I gave all the brass old lever handles to the scrap metal merchant this morning so there's no going back!

  • karty11
    Original Author
    25 days ago

    Yes, I also prefer door knobs over handles. So one of the comments above suggested chrome rim locks. I had a look on eBay for these and I think that’s what I’m going to go for as they are also the same style of handles currently on the door. I also saw this beehive style knob which I really like. See pictures.

  • Josephine Scott
    24 days ago

    Ooh I like the second ribbed one. But your property is victorian isn't it? Whereas mine is 1950s so I'm not sure if it would look a bit odd?


    I realised that my current rented place has wooden doors and when I paid attention noticed the handles are brass lever style...! But nicer than the ones I've removed at least!

  • Tim Baker
    24 days ago

    https://images.app.goo.gl/rTyTV3ro2huMecV26

    These are typical 50s handles. Imo not nice. I'd go with a handle you like.


  • Josephine Scott
    24 days ago

    Just had a quick look on ebay - they're really expensive! I've got 5 doors... :o

  • PRO
    Sara Slade Interiors
    23 days ago

    Sorry I haven't read the comments (too many) but if you are considering keeping them, I'd send them off and get them dipped. If they come back in one piece then go from there. It may be they come back with a lot of damage, some panels may need to come out - but you can always update with fluted glass panels etc. If they come back and were full of filler etc and bad condition then sand, fill, sand again and paint a dark shade. You can make them look beautiful if you want to. It may be they come back in good condition! In which case you can stain and keep natural. I'd probably replace all the hardware though.

  • karty11
    Original Author
    23 days ago

    Thanks Sara, really helpful

  • Josephine Scott
    3 days ago

    Back again as my doors are back @karty11 they look okay but I've decided to paint them as they look a bit plywood looking in the panels. Photo attached hopefully



  • karty11
    Original Author
    3 days ago

    Thanks. Great to see. Yes agree probably best to paint given they are not the same colour. I will post a pic of mine once I get them done.

  • Sam Potter
    3 days ago

    Definitely keep them. new ones won't look as good.

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