To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail

The quotation above is one of my favourites from Mark Twain.

Working in the decorating industry, I see a lot of men with hammers. They’ll hit anything.

So when salesmen urged half of London to replace old wooden doors with UPVC, they weren’t necessarily just thinking about the commission. I’m sure many of them genuinely believed in what they were selling.

But it is a shame that we lost so many excellent old wooden frames. A lot of them would have lasted many more years with proper care and upkeep, and there is something special about the traditional old London painted door. One photographer even filled a book with photos of London doors – the perfect Christmas present for a decorator, you might think (but please don’t suggest that to my wife).


A lot of exterior paints now are, as you probably know, water-based – instead of the old spirit-based paints. Although they never quite match the deep gloss of the old paints, it’s hard to argue with the environmental reasons for the switch. But modern paints do offer very good protection.

With proper repair of damaged or rotten wood, and good preparation, there is no reason that painted wooden doors can’t last for many years. They should be good for 5 years or more before repainting.

Even badly deteriorated doors and frames can be saved with a combination of good carpentry and resin fillers.

If you think your doors or frames are looking a bit tired, and you have a shiny brochure suggesting you get rid of them, we’d always be happy to come round and tell you if the wood can be saved. I’ll even bring my book of favourite quotations.All the best,

Geoff Parvin

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