Many wooden doors that have given faithful service for a century or two suffer from sagging because of screw holes which have become, after literally thousands of sharp shocks with closing and opening, too large for the screws. The whole door binds and sags, making it difficult to shut.
Many people are of the misconception that the hinges, or even the entire door, must be replaced. A simple epoxy repair can quickly and permanently repair worn hinge holes. Many original hinges are part of the historic fabric of your old house. Many hinges dating from the Eastlake/Queen Anne Revival period are richly ornamental and are works of art themselves. Some antique hinges can be worth well into the several hundreds of dollars and are highly sought after by collectors.
One of the worst things that can be perpetrated to an antique hinge is to drive new “larger” Robertson or Phillips screws into it. The original slot screws, most of them hand-made until the mid-nineteenth century, are as important an historical feature of an antique door as the hinges themselves!
The Restoration Process:
A door should always be repaired off the hinges with the screws backed-out carefully and the hinges and screws cleaned and bagged. A couple of shims should be propped under the door to absorb the stress from the hinges when the screws are removed (see image 1). Using a drill with a 5/16” brad-point drill bit, drill out the old screw holes, in both the frame and the door, to a depth a ¼” longer than the original screws (see image 2).
Clean the holes thoroughly with the suction from a shop vacuum. Mix-up a small batch of Rhino Wood Repair liquid two-part epoxy and apply a liberal coat in the holes paying special attention to the sides (see image 3). The liquid epoxy will act as a good hold for the next step of paste epoxy by chemically bonding both epoxies to the wood itself.
Then mix a small batch of Rhino Wood Repair two-part paste epoxy and pack the drilled-out holes just slightly below the surface (see image 4). Once set, a furniture-quality coloured wax can be used to blend the holes into the surrounding area (see image 5).
The door is then placed back into position with the hinges attached, again using the shims to prop, and the original hinge housings to locate the hinge. With the aid of a gimlet, (a small hole starter, smaller than the original screws), the screw holes are run through and the original slotted screws are driven home (see images 6 & 7). The epoxy repair is permanent and structurally superior to the original wood frame and door thereby allowing your door to give another several centuries of faithful service.
VHC Magazine recommends Rhino Wood Repair – available online or at Home Hardware stores across Canada!
Photography, Illustrations and Editorial by: Dr Christopher Cooper
The Queen Anne Revival house style made its first appearance in North America when the British Government displayed several examples of the style at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It has no real connection with the architecture of Queen Anne herself, however, who reigned from 1702 to 1714.
The style, first appearing in Canada and the United States around 1880, is highly decorative and utilizes a variety of building materials. Often wood frame versions were painted with as many as five or six different colours to bring out all the different textures and trim. The fashion utilized fairly dark colours, similar to what we now call “Earth Tones” – sienna red, hunter green, burnt yellow, muddy brown, etc. Interior and exterior surfaces were almost never left unadorned by some sort of ornamentation. The expansion of the railway system in North America gave architects and builders the ability to create elaborate residential masterpieces. Doors, windows, roofing, siding and decorative detailing were, for the first time, mass-produced in factories for a reasonable price and made easily accessible by shipping by rail.
The homes were generally built with an unbalanced or asymmetrical arrangement of building parts. The windows were a mixture of sizes and shapes including, one-over-one double-hung sash, bay, stained glass, and round arched. The Queen Anne window was also common. It was a large pane of glass surrounded by smaller panes, often of coloured glass. The houses have hipped, steeply pitched roofs with one or more lower cross gables covered with decorative patterned wood or slate shingles. The shingle patterns were arranged and referred to as “fish scale”. Several different wall surfaces were used. Brick on the ground storey, and shingles or horizontal boards above was a common practice. Elaborate chimneys with decorated caps were also among its trademarks.
The Queen Anne Revival movement became the style of choice for domestic architecture, and achieved unprecedented popularity across Canada. It caught on quickly, with numerous architectural pattern books providing the designs, not unlike modern home plan magazines.
Queen Anne style houses are also sometimes called “bric-a-brack”, “gingerbread”, “painted ladies” and “stepdaughters of the gilded age” or “high Victorian”. The Queen Anne style became lofty, sometimes fanciful, expressions of the machine age and was a sign of prosperity. Ironically, the very qualities that made Queen Anne architecture so regal also made it fragile. These expansive and expressive buildings proved expensive and difficult to maintain. With the arrival of the 1900’s the intricate details of the Queen Anne fell out of favour and most of the colourful structures were painted over in conservative whites. Today, however, many of the monochromatic Queens are being brought back to their status as Painted Ladies of the gilded age.
The complete renovation and or preservation of a house can only be accessed by the amount of work there is to do, and to what level of preservation you would like to attain. The exterior of the house should be tackled during the months of good weather, this is the basis of this episode/article in this three part series.
Plan repointing and paint work between the months of June and September. Interior work can be reserved for the winter months or inclement periods. Create a calendar or schedule and plot all work needing attention for the period of time you think your work will require. Try to stick to your schedule. You might even want to plan your vacation in order to use it to work on your home.
Managing your roof and ground water is also very important to the health of your old house. Be sure your eaves-troughs are in good repair, including downspouts fitted with good extensions which should expel water on splash blocks to avoid soil erosion. And remember our first segment in our series – get the best roof you can afford to not allow water penetration and inevitable rot!
Deteriorating wood siding, mill-work, decorative columns, soffits and eaves should be restored at all costs, either by using a two-part epoxy such as Rhino Wood Repair, or by replacing the damaged area with an exact replica if badly decayed. Remember, all exterior wood should be primed and maintained on a regular basis to not have a re-occurrence of damage.
Repointing masonry work is also very important in order to keep moisture from spalling your masonry. Remember that only an all-lime mortar mix should be employed. Portland cement in any amounts will destroy hand-made-bricks, as it is far too hard and can create a whole host of problems in the future. Make certain that all flashing is in good condition – and replace if necessary.
Most wet basements can be attributed to poor management of roof and ground water. Never excavate a stone foundation to replace weeping tiles; the lime which was once part of the mortar will have long since leached off, leaving nothing more than a pile of un-bonded stones. Complete collapse can result if the foundation is excavated. Water management through properly working eaves-troughs and downspouts emptying into swales (small ditches) diverting water away from your home or into a dry-well, is the answer.
The most character-defining elements of an old house are its windows and doors. Restore windows and doors using the same epoxy techniques mentioned earlier. Restore wood storms or learn to make them yourself.
An old wood window coupled with a well fitting wood storm are equal to or even more efficient than any vinyl or replacement window on the market. Missing hardware and period wood replacement doors for those uncharacteristic steel doors can be found at your local architectural salvage yards. The most important issue with respect to the health of your old house is to keep the water out.