Lothlorien Woodworking.
Builders of Fine Quality Windows and Doors.
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Maintenance.

PROPER CARE FOR
WOODEN DOORS & WINDOWS


Shop Fabrication. 'Nothing lasts forever', but some things should last a lifetime. Like a well built wood window that gets some maintenance every few years.

It is our sincere hope that a window or door supplied by Lothlorien Woodworking will be the last one you ever buy for that location in your building. Parts may fail in time, but we design to allow for easy replacement of these parts. The sections below will explain how various components should be maintained, and what kind of lifetime you can expect from them. We have limited our discussion to the design details we use here at Lothlorien Woodworking.

(A) Paint or Stain Finish

All exterior surfaces of wood should be protected by 3 coats of paint or 2 coats of stain, at a minimum. Wood which is left unfinished will colour to grey or black, will develop deep cracks from weather checking, and will change shape through the seasons, causing seals to break, nails to pull, and allowing water and sunlight where they shouldn't be. Three coats of high quality paint is maintenance-free for 5 to 7 years; our current process of choice is alkyd primer plus 2 coats of semi-gloss latex on the exterior. Interior finish is largely a question of aesthetics but there should be a finish of paint, urethane or stain to protect the surface and to slow the movement of seasonal moisture into and out of the wood.

Why only 2 coats of stain? A pigmented semi-transparent oil-based stain should be re-applied every 3 to 4 years because it gives less protection to wood than paint does and it wears off more quickly. So, instead of darkening the surface excessively at the start with 3 coats of stain, use 2 coats and re-apply a top coat more frequently. Very little or no surface preparation is required for the re-staining.

It has been said that the best protection for an exterior wood surface is a high gloss white paint. High gloss to allow easy water drain-off, white to prevent over-heating in direct sun exposure, and latex rather than alkyd for better colour retention, adhesion, and moisture permeability.

NOTE: Pay particular attention to the 'glazing stops', small wood mouldings which hold the sealed thermal glass unit in place and which are nailed to the exterior frame or sash. The bottom glazing stop shouldn't be allowed to lose its finish or its silicone seal against the glass surface.

(B) Glass

Nearly all of our products are glazed with sealed thermal units; 2 sheets of glass, with an edge seal and dry air or argon gas in between. The ugly truth (which nobody likes to talk about too much) is that the seal won't last forever. 20 years is generally considered to be an average 'lifetime' before seal failure is observed by occasional moisture clouding between the glass panes. With argon-filled units, there is currently no test procedure for determining the gas content of the space. A 'failed unit' however, is not a write-off unless it is visually objectionable. It is still effective as a thermally insulating barrier.

(C) Hardware

On outswinging windows, the crank gear should be lubricated every 2 years with a bit of grease on the end of a screwdriver.

On doors with non-ball-bearing hinges, a shot of spray lubricant and wiping with a paper towel every couple of years will help. A hinge is calling for help when it squeals and has stains of metal dust near the joints.

(D) Weatherstripping

Weatherstrip is the material which bridges the gap between adjacent wood surfaces, allows relative movement between them, and keeps out air, water and noise. Amazing stuff! Weatherstripping products (we use about 10 different ones) should NOT be painted. Only a couple of situations exist where maintenance or replacement may be necessary, and this is a simple procedure.

The bottom seal on a door takes the worst beating of all, especially if the door frame moves a bit in its opening and the latch side of the door gets too close to the sill. There should be 1/8" to 3/16" of space under our doors, sealed with a product called 'timberseal'. It is easily replaced if damaged, but the reason for the damage should be fixed first. Doors themselves don't sag, but door frames (or "door jambs") are flexible and rely entirely on their shimming and attachment to the rough opening to maintain their shape relative to the door. If the hinge side of the door frame settles even 1/16" there's a problem.

The outswinging window has 2 lines of weatherstripping - the exterior one is a vinyl leaf called 'polyflex', mounted in the edge of the sash. This weatherstrip is routinely exposed to sunlight and will eventually lose its flexibility like any vinyl material. If it needs replacing, new polyflex is simply pressed into a groove machined in the edge of the sash.

In Summary . . .

Keep 'em painted and they'll last longer than their owners.

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