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Professional timber door repair

Rob Mouser from Plastic Surgeon discusses the merits of having damaged doors repaired by specialists.

Wood, and the various veneers, or even foils used to replicate them, remain the favourite material used in the manufacture of internal and external doors. Mainly because it is beautiful as well as being easy to machine, plus it is available in a wide range of species, finishes and appearances: the knots and grains that make it up offering the opportunity to create a truly unique statement to enhance any domestic or commercial environment.

The biggest problem with wood, though, is that it is susceptible to damage during the build process, because it is in the main, soft.  Scratches and dents can easily scar even hardwood doors, being that accidental damage will occur as tradesmen pass through them with toolboxes and building materials.

As funding becomes tighter, especially for local authorities, the UK construction industry is favouring the idea of repairing damaged doors rather than replacing them, being that this is the more cost-effective option, as long as experienced professionals undertake the work. There are many DIY solutions on the market, but these crayons, varnishes and waxes rarely match the subtleties of real timber; unless one is artistic enough to conjure up a likeness with a limited palette.

We are also still seeing building companies waste their time by bringing in French Polishers to tackle snagging, when they really have very limited remedies at their disposal.

A lengthy process, French Polishing consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol using a rubbing pad and, while the end result is considered to be one of the most beautiful ways to finish highly figured wood, it is soft and therefore highly susceptible to further damage.  So is not really suitable for doors, which require a durable finish.

For the repair of timber doors or coloured composite GRP, and even metal alternatives, an holistic approach is required, as there are several stages involved. Firstly, it is necessary to fill the damaged area with proprietary filler slightly proud of the surface, before rubbing it down to the same level of the surrounding substrate. Next, it is then vital to exactly colour match the repair to the original finish, which is where, if this is not done by a trained colourist, the first visually jarring mistake can be made.

Then comes, perhaps, the part of the repair specialist’s task that makes the restoration of wooden doors especially challenging. The colour, patina and hue may be perfect, which is difficult enough to achieve. But it is replicating the grain and knots that will ensure the finished work is virtually invisible to the eye.

This part of the repair takes great patience, experience and time; and is where the expert undertaking this type of work metamorphoses into an artist. For quite often, the finest 000 sable brushes are utilised to copy the grain and then feather it in with the surrounding grains. Here, colours for even the smallest natural mark in the wood are mixed individually on a palette to ensure the utmost accuracy. Once this has been completed successfully, a protective topcoat must be applied that also matches the original; whether it be a matt, satin or gloss coat of varnish, wax or lacquer.

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