Solid Wood Doors
Old wooden panel doors are the gold standard, but buying reclaimed ones, or salvaging existing ones in your home, isn’t completely straightforward. For starters old doors often have thick layers of paint that needs to be stripped either for aesthetic reasons or simply to fit properly. “You have to pay special attention to lead issues, because it will be on any door that was painted before lead paint was banned in the ’70s. That goes for any item you’d want to sand in an old house.” says Haines.
It’s still well within the abilities of most DIYers to strip a painted door if you take the correct precautions, including wearing a respirator and protective clothing and using a heat gun — or better yet an eco-friendly chemical stripper like Soy Gel. If you plan to salvage and sell or donate your doors, Haines makes one plea: Keep the hardware on the door, especially if the door has mortise locks (large square steel locks that are inserted into a carved out hole in the door). “One time we salvaged maybe 100 doors from a handful of houses and someone from our outfit decided to remove all the mortises — big mistake,” Haines says. “All of those locks are slightly off, and so anyone trying to refit them later will never find a match.”
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