Storm doors are necessary
The jewel of the house
Doors and gates were artistically designed early on, in the company of carpenters, stonemasons, wood sculptors, locksmiths, blacksmiths, glaziers and painters. Blessings and other inscriptions, ornaments or artistic fittings and locks on doors are still popular today. These handicrafts can still be admired in many places and are definitely worth preserving. In earlier times, the dimensions of the door and gate were often adapted to a specific purpose: for example, gate entrances had to be large enough for loaded harvest wagons; in houses in narrow inner cities, the width of the doors had to be sufficient for a coffin and its bearer. Since doors as components have been renewed comparatively often, the stylistic forms of the preserved pieces do not always match that of the older building. Unfortunately, many original forms have therefore not been preserved.
Conservation worthy of preservation
Fittings, hinges, grilles and locks were masterpieces of blacksmithing even in antiquity. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans developed well thought-out door locks; modern techniques are refinements of the original forms. The forerunners of today's rotary key locks and padlocks also come from this time, but they are much more elaborately designed and decorated.
Despite the destruction in the Second World War and despite years of thoughtless building mania and disposal throughout the country, the inventory of doors worthy of preservation is still extremely diverse. For a long time it was ignored that historical doors and gates are valuable witnesses of the past and part of our art and cultural history. Restorations in a style-appropriate form, with contemporary technology and sometimes considerable effort can make such doors what they were originally - a noble calling card for the building.
This long development has been directed in completely different directions across borders since the Bauhaus. Walter Gropius gave out the formula: "Material and construction result in the form". Purpose-oriented framed doors without decorative design features have been found according to this motto in public and commercial buildings since then - and also controversially on memorials. From around 1950 this rule also applies to single and two-family houses. Around 1965, aluminum profiles and additions replaced the pure steel elements. The disadvantages - contact corrosion, under-rusting, damage to anodized coatings and lack of insulation - are well known. In the meantime, however, the profiles have improved significantly in quality, for example through full galvanization, high-quality powder coating and good insulation.
DIN-compliant reconditioning of old doors
The possibilities of a contemporary refurbishment according to DIN for locking technology, insulation, glazing and painting create appealing results. In many places - mainly in old inner cities - numerous such well-reconditioned, rescued specimens can be admired. And private builders also appreciate such pieces again. He can find what he is looking for in building material stores for historical materials (for example at www.historische-tueren.de). There you will find doors from different stylistic epochs, old or already refurbished. Dimensional corrections are quite possible. Stylish wooden parts as additions, such as canopies, capitals, flap and decorative strips as well as foot pieces in pine, meranti and oak are available in suitable dimensions. This also applies to glasses with historical ornaments, with multiple glazing and soundproofed. Reproductions of lead and brass glazing can be made by a good artificial glass.
Draft freedom can be achieved permanently with the sealing profiles that are often offered. Insulating fillings are available on the market for insulation. Sufficient security is achieved by adding modern locking systems. Old, beautiful fittings should, however, be kept polished, even if they have no function.
For new paintwork, old layers of paint must be removed. There are specialist companies for this. With their technology, this happens without damaging the environment. The prices hold up to those of wage-intensive work by hand with better results.
Important: coordination with craftsmen and authorities
However, good designs are only possible with the correct coordination of all the craftsmen involved. Carpenters, blacksmiths, art glaziers, locksmiths, painters and stonemasons not only have to do their part perfectly, but also have to master stylistics at different times. The requirements of the local authorities for the restoration of doors and gates that are worthy of preservation must also be complied with after consultation. In historic city centers, there are strict requirements and regulations for the work described here. The lower monument authority of the district or city administrations, which in turn is subordinate to the State Office for Monument Protection, is responsible. The authority specifies shapes and colors both for renovation and complete renewal that are binding for all craftsmen. Expert restorers can of course also make their own suggestions or try to work out better solutions in cooperation with the authorities, as the locally different requirements can contain contradicting or incomprehensible regulations.
The door as the "center of attraction of the house"
The well-known Berlin architect Otto Meyer already formulated in his book “Doors and Windows” in the 1930s: “The front door is one of the most important means of increasing the effect and liveliness of the building, even in simple buildings. The shape and color of the door are therefore essential for the simple, calm facades. In a relatively simple facade, the architecture of which actually only consists of a clever grouping of the windows, the door and its frame should be considered a jewel and a point of attraction of the house. "
Hans Jürgen Ronicke is a craftsman restorer, master painter and varnisher, interior designer and freelance writer for the magazine bauhandwerk. He lives and works in Wittenberg.
By Hans Jürgen Ronicke
Restoration of historic house doors - in a stylish form but with contemporary technology
In addition to the perfect craftsmanship, mastering historical stylistics is crucial
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