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Reclaimed Door Buying Guide

If you are looking to buy a reclaimed door, stop! Read this article first. It will give you all the tips you need to know before you buy your reclaimed door. Doors are important. Yes we know, this sounds obvious. Doors provide security, privacy and insulation for your home. They keep out prying eyes, burglars and the cold (Sometimes even the kids!). They are also an important architectural feature, which for many people is the most important aspect of buying a door. This reclaimed door buying guide will give you all the hints and tips you need to know before buying your reclaimed door.


reclaimed door buying guide

Wood, metal and plastic come to mind when people think about door materials. At Historic Doors  99% of the doors we handle are made of wood, although we do occasionally have metal doors in stock. We have a policy not to stock plastic doors because they do not age well, and can’t be restored.

But even if you have a wooden door, it could be one of many different types. For a start, there is old growth wood vs new growth wood. Old growth wood is vastly superior due to the different growing methods of the time, resulting in denser, better-lasting wood. Read more about new-growth vs old-growth wood.


If you are buying a reclaimed period door from before the second world war you will be buying old growth wood. But which variety of tree it comes from is just as important as well. Oak doors are heavy, solid and have a lovely golden colour. Oak doors are not usually painted and are left waxed or oiled instead. It is a waste to paint oak doors because they don’t take paint as well as more porous woods like pine, and they have such lovely grains which can be put on show.


As mentioned previously, pine is a porous wood. This means it is easy to paint and will take a lovely gloss finish. Pine is the most common material for our reclaimed doors, because of its fast growth, and straight grains. This makes pine very easy to work with, especially when compared to hardwoods like oak and mahogany. If you are looking for a painted door then make sure to choose pine.


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Mahogany wood became popular during the 18th century for use in Georgian townhouses. Brought in from the Americas, it has a very dark colour to it. Like oak, mahogany is a hardwood with low porosity. This means it is very dense and heavy. You won’t find much more secure doors anywhere! It would be a crime to paint a mahogany door. Instead, we always use a dark stain or wax. This really brings out the grain. Perfect for a study or office environment.

Measuring door frames

When measuring doorframes for replacement doors it is a habit of many people to send us measurements in millimetres and centimetres. However, most homes were actually built when imperial units were in use. And the doors we sell are almost exclusively measured in inches. As such we remain in the pre-metric era, and all our doors are measured in feet and inches. Some may call it quaint but it’s the way we work!

For a replacement door, simply measure the height and width of the existing door. Make sure to repeat this from the other side to ensure you’ve taken an accurate measurement. Then measure the depth of the door and the doorframe. These will be slightly different. This is very important, as sometimes the door doesn’t fill the frame completely.

If you are buying a door and a frame, then measure the interior width and height of the door opening, and also the exterior width and height, which will include the frame. The depth is the same for both of these measurements.

Exterior Doors Buying

Exterior doors are the most ornate doors in a home. They are the face of your humble abode and are the first thing a visitor will see. There are many different styles to go with, although we personally recommend sticking with the architectural style of your house.

Front Doors

reclaimed door buying guide

Victorian front doors are some of the most popular and are characterised by their two-over-two-panel design. Read how to buy your victorian doors.

reclaimed door buying guide

Another very popular design we see are reclaimed 1930s doors. These doors typically have a large single panel over three smaller panels. Interestingly the 1930s was the era in which the most houses were built in Britain. 

We also have Georgian doors, from the 18th and early 19th century. These doors are large, grand affairs. Their six-panel design looks lovely on most building types, and the clean lines balance perfectly with other Georgian houses.

Rear and Side Doors

reclaimed door buying guide

The rear of a house isn’t on display as much as the front. This means that privacy becomes less of an issue, and therefore we can use glass! Glass patio and french doors are great for lighting up your lounge or kitchen. Many modern homes have sliding double glazed sheets, which do let in plenty of light, but they are prone to getting very dirty. We prefer timber framed french doors. These will still let in the light but will do so in a way that is delicately framed. And there’ll be fewer dead flies to scrape off.

Another option for a side door is the ledge and brace door. This style comes from humble beginnings but has moved up in the world since being used in cowsheds. This style is popular in country cottages. It offers security and solidity. They are typically made from pine or oak. Read our full post on ledge and brace doors.

Interior Doors

reclaimed door buying guide

The style and size of interior doors depend on the style of home you have. If you have a rustic look, then it may be better to leave your interior doors unpainted. That way you can show off the raw grain of the wood. However, if you have an elegant monochrome home, in a minimalist style, then you will most likely want to paint it.

Buyers have the option of a traditional hinged door, or perhaps a more modern sliding door. These save space and can be used a feature. Cafe or saloon doors are another quirky touch available.

How heavy should my interior door be?

This is a good question, and the answer is that it depends. A heavy door will offer better insulation, security and privacy. Sound will not travel through the house as easily, and they will not slam as easily. Heavier doors are typically heavier than their lighter counterparts, however. It also depends on the size of the frame, as a door can only be as thick as its frame.

To Conclude

Whichever reclaimed door you choose to buy, make sure it is the right one for you! Think about what you want first. Do you want a door which is heavy, grand and will insulate the house? Or do you want a lighter door that will let in the light? Waxed, painted or raw? Before you commit to buying anything make sure you know the answers to these questions.

We hope this reclaimed door buying guide has helped you. If you are interested in buying a reclaimed door, then please get in touch with Stick, on 0800 747 1 747 or email

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