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Combining the Old with the New
In the eighteenth century, doors typically had six panels; early in the nineteenth century, four-panel doors became the rule. One-panel doors, hollow-core veneer doors, and reproduction doors are common to our time. Batten doors—which are made of vertical boards fastened together with horizontal boards nailed across them—are commonly used as secondary doors in homes and in outbuildings.
Rail-and-stile or panel doors have long been popular. They consist of vertical boards (the stiles) and horizontal boards (the rails) with panels inset between them. These doors are traditionally held together with mortise-and-tenon joints, in which tongue-shaped projections slide into cavities cut into the sides of the stiles and then are fastened with wooden pins.
As with windows and other details, try to save original doors. Doors removed in one part of the house can be recycled elsewhere. Find similar style doors at architectural salvage—they don't have to be identical, but if they resemble the originals, they won't seem out of place.
The hold-on-to-the-original notion applies to exterior doors, too. Replacing a paneled front door that shows the wear and tear of many years may seem like just the right thing to do to save energy and tighten up the house. Yet many replacement doors today—sometimes of steel, often with faux graining stamped into the sheet metal— look like the architectural equivalent of a black eye. Think first about restoring the original door or, at least, finding a replacement in the same spirit as the original.
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