Monthly Archives: August 2012

Do you know what kind of lock you have on your door? Is there a better one? The most important reason, if not the only reason, for having a lock is to prevent people getting into your home without your permission! You need a good lock to protect your family and your possessions. If, despite your best efforts, your home is broken into, you will need to satisfy the insurance company that you took all the precautions you could!
Here is an outline of how to tell what you’ve got, and how to know if it’s enough
British Standard Locks
These are locks made to British Standard 3621. Most insurance companies will insist on a lock that conforms to this standard, and may not pay out in cases where a burglary occurs and the locks were not BS 3621.

Where to buy Locks

A qualified locksmith is probably the safest place to buy locks and bolts. They will give you advice on what is best for your personal needs, and also provide assurance that your locks conform to any insurance standards. Large hardware shops carry a wide range of locks, and if you know what you are looking for, can often save you money.

Types of Locks

There are two basic types of lock – a mortice lock which fits into the door, and a rim lock which fits onto the door.

Mortice Locks – A mortice lock is one that requires a pocket or mortice to be cut into the door where the lock is to be fitted. A mortice lock is extremely secure. Mortice locks are usually either deadlocks (a single rectangular bolt), or sash locks (a second spring loaded bolt). A sash lock is often used with an ordinary door handle to keep the door shut even when it is not locked. The best mortice locks should have at least 5 levers or, for a cylinder lock, 6 pins.

Nightlatch or Rim Locks – A rim lock fits on the face of the door. Most rim locks are either cylinder locks or night latches. Although possibly less secure than a mortice lock, a rim lock is far easier and more convenient to install, making it the most widely used front door lock. Most modern cylinder rim locks can be deadlocked, to stop the bolt from being pushed back by inserting a credit card etc. into the door edge.

There is all sorts of jargon relating to locks that can confuse and bewilder. Here is a brief list of the terms and their meanings:

Backset -The measurement used on a night latch or mortice lock.

Bathroom Lock – A mortice lock with a thumb turn handle to enable the door to be locked from the inside.

Deadbolt – Found in the centre of a multi-point lock to improve security. Usually rectangular but sometimes hook shaped.

Deadlock – A mortice deadlock has a bolt which is operated by key rather than a latch. Some nightlatches have extra security by turning the key twice to engage the deadlock function.

Door Chain or Limiter – A chain that limits the opening of the door.

Dummy Mullion – A bar fixed onto the side of patio door to secure the door in a locking position.

Espagnolette – A type of multi-locking point usually used for patio and sliding doors.

Faceplate – The plate of a mortice lock that is visible in the side of a door.

Follower – Sometimes called a rower it is the square hole in the backset of a mortice lock that the spindle passes through in order to operate the handle.

Door Keep – Sometimes called a receiver or striker, a door keep is the small metal plate that fits onto the door frame to receive the bolt or latch of a door in order to lock it.

Levers – Levers are often used in mortice locks and padlocks. The more levers a lock contains, the higher the level of security it offers.

Locking Point – The point where the multi-point lock enters the outer frame of the door, using either a hook or a rectangular shaped bar.

Master Key – A single key that operates a variety of locks that all have their own different keys.

Nightlatch – A type of rim lock mounted onto the surface of a door, a nightlatch has a latch that can usually be deadlocked into position.

Snib – A button on a nightlatch that holds the latch down, so that the door won’t lock if accidentally slammed shut.

Spindle – A square metal bar that passes through the door and connects the door handles on either side. When the door handles are turned the spindle is rotated, moving the latch and allowing the door to open.

Thumbturn Cylinder – A knob fitted to one end of a cylinder allowing the door to be locked or unlocked without using a key.

Hopefully this makes your door locks slightly easier to understand, and helps you know what the experts mean when they talk about locks

To write an all encompassing article on the history of doors, you’d probably need volumes and volumes. So summing up the history of one of the most useful inventions man has ever invented in a short article such as this one is no easy task. However, despite the myriad different types of door which have evolved in different ways in different cultures from the same initial concept, there are many factors that all doors still share.

Compare a late Tudor door design with a Japanese Shoji sliding door, and you’ll probably notice a whole bunch of differences. Clearly there has been enough time since the invention of the first door for designs to vary as much as these do. In the west, doors are mainly hinge based barriers, as opposed to the sliding design so popular in the far east.

Doors were almost certainly first invented for safety. Whether it was laying a few rocks in front of a cave or covering the opening of a hut with a large slab of lumber, doors are primarily practical, and it is only since we have eliminated most of our natural predators that doors have become a vent of culture as well. Although most doors are still used for protection, they are also used for aesthetic purposes, especially in grand buildings with elaborate architecture.

Now as we progress deeper into a new millennium, automatic sliding doors are becoming more commonplace, revolving doors have long since stopped being a novelty, and household doors are more sturdy and better at protecting their occupants than ever before. As architecture and technology continue to intertwine, how will doors be affected? No doubt we can expect increasing amounts of efficiency, but what about the cultural, aesthetic sides? When all the world’s buildings are fitted with the exact same, automatic yet highly secure doors, they might have increased in efficiency, but any cultural implications will be left to doors of past years.

If you’ve always wanted a letterbox in your door, and have been thinking about getting someone professional to install one for you, think again, as it is a fairly simple task which can be performed by even those with minimal knowledge of DIY.

Making a Hole

If you’ve got an existing letterbox and are planning to install a new one, removing the old one is as easy as unscrewing the screws holding it in. There are usually two screws, one on each side, but some letterbox designs might feature more. Be aware that the hole in your door might have been the perfect size for the letterbox you’ve just removed, but you should measure the hole up against the new letterbox you are planning to install in case their sizes don’t match.
If you are installing a letter box into a door that does not currently have one, you will have to cut a hole into your door. The size of the hole can be determined by simply holding up your letterbox to the door and drawing a template around it. Thickness of the door isn’t a major issue, as most doors are easily thick enough to contain even the largest of letterboxes.
The process of actually cutting out the wood is as simple as following the template you have drawn with a jigsaw or padsaw, or widening the existing hole if need be.

Attaching the Letterbox

It’s worth marking the points that will be attaching your letterbox to your door. If your letterbox is using fixing bolts, mark the points where the holes will be and drill holes in those places. Holding a block of wood against the back of whatever you are drilling prevents splintering the wood of the thing you are drilling. Doing this with your door will keep it looking immaculate.
Sand any rough edges that you find, and should the bolt or screw protrude through the other side of the door, you might have to cut the ends off, but this is an issue which can be easily tackled. Many screws designed for holding letterboxes actually have bits of thread missing in them so they are easier to shorten.

Many letterboxes come in two parts – a front and a back – and this means that you might have to repeat the process twice, but either side is as easy as the other, and once you have followed these instructions and finished one side, simply repeat again to the other side and you will have a perfect, functional letterbox that you have installed yourself.

The wooden doors in your house are probably one of the last things you’ll think about when giving your house ‘the big clean’. People have somehow developed the assumption that doors just don’t get dirty. This belief has become so strong in some people that they might not even notice the growing amount of grime and dirt collecting on their wooden doors. But you will certainly notice the difference once you have given your wooden door a clean by following the simple instructions below.

Rather than just running a wet rag over the dirtiest looking bits, you can be sure of total cleanliness for both varnished doors and painted doors by following the specific methods below. These methods will ensure that your doors are as clean as can be and will stay that way for a fair while.

  1. Remove Dust.
    All this part of the process requires is a dry cloth or duster. You don’t just want to be smearing dust around your door when it actually comes to cleaning it, so removing the dust is a good idea.
  2. Clean Door.
    Take a soft rag or cloth and moisten it with a small amount of oil soap. You might want to use different products depending on manufacturer guidelines, but oil soap always works well with varnished doors. Rub gently along the grain until you have covered the entire door.
    Painted: Take a sponge sprayed with all purpose cleaner and apply to the door, working with the grain.
  3. Buff Door.
    Take a dry cloth and buff the door, again following the grain.
  4. Clean Handles.
    Take a soft cloth or rag and apply a small amount of brass polish. Proceed to buff the handles gently with the cloth.
    Other: Spray a soft rag or cloth with all purpose cleaner and gently rub down the handles. Take a dry cloth and wipe off any leftover cleaner.
  5. Clean Glass.
    Obviously if your wooden door has glass panels these will need to be cleaned with a glass cleaner. It is probably best to leave cleaning the glass until the last. To get a really streak free shine on your glass and windows; polish them with a bit of old newspaper. Wear gloves, because it will make your hands rather grubby, but the window panes will look fantastic.

It goes without saying that keeping your wooden doors clean – particularly external doors – will extend the life of the door for many years, and reduce the need to repaint too often.

We live in an age where there is a lot of injustice, and little consideration for the more resounding impacts of our actions. However, we also live in an age where, thanks to easily accessible information, as well as a little thoughtfulness, we are becoming more aware of what impact our everyday choices and actions have.
There are many ways to alter your lifestyle to make it more ethical and sustainable, recycling, buying local goods etc. But one factor that is still largely overlooked is where the wood that makes your doors come from. Having a house fitted with wooden doors made from wood from sustainable sources can help you rest assured that you are doing your bit to preserve our forests.


Very often, the sustainability of the wood depends on the location it comes from.

  • European wood is almost always sustainable because the forests are now protected by legislation, so if you are planning on installing a door made from sustainable materials, wood from Europe will certainly help you do this. However, it is worth checking the exact location the wood comes from, as there are still reports of logging in Siberia and parts of Russia.
  • Asian, South American and African wood is still sometimes questionable in its sustainability. There are groups trying to ensure the replanting of certain forests, and if you use wood from these particular places, checking for certain insignias and logos will help you in knowing whether your wood is sustainable or not.

What to Look For

You can check if your door or wood is from a sustainable source by looking for the official certification which is used only with products made from sustainable forests. Alternatively you can look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) marking, followed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC) logo.

The FSC is an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. It was founded in 1993 in response to public concern about deforestation and demand for a trustworthy wood-labelling scheme. There are national working groups in more than 50 countries including the UK. FSC UK is a registered charity which is supported by WWF, Greenpeace and the Woodland Trust.

At Best4Doors we try to ensure that all our doors are ethically sourced and from sustainable forests. In most cases all our doors are made from wood that has FSC approval. Whatever you buy – doors, floors or furniture – don’t hesitate to ask for proof that it is ethically sourced and sustainable.