Thursday, July 16, 2009

Colonial Wood Doors

I just returned from Williamsburg, Virginia with a nice collection of photos of wood doors and moldings. The vast majority of the interior doors and exterior doors in Colonial Williamsburg are some version of an 8-panel or 6 panel door. Most have raised panels on 1 side and flat panels on the other side. The raised panel side of the door faced the most visible part of the room or in the case of an exterior door faced the outside of the structure. Since everthing was made by hand this was obviously a time savings measure. The raised panel side of the panel took more time to make than the flat panel side.

Many of the structures had louvered doors in front of the exterior doors. The louvered doors were attached as outswing doors in front of the exterior doors. They allowed for air flow into the structure but failed to keep the bugs out.

Rim lock door locks and wrought iron strap hinges were used on most of the interior doors. Since the hinges mounted on the face of the door instead of the edge of the door this put the door face flush with the door casing on the hinge side of the door. The hinges were fastened to the face of the door casing instead of the door jamb. The latch portion of the rim locks was also fastened to the door casing.

The window and door casing was usually built up in pieces. Either 2 piece or 3 piece. The first piece of casing was always a flat board with a beaded edge closest to the jamb. This bead was used everywhere because it was easy to make by hand. This same bead is also used to dress up the exterior lap siding, interior wood panelling, baseboard, and wood porch planking as well as the casing. The built up casing was usually 4" to 5" wide if 2 piece or 6" or wider if 3 piece.

All doors and moldings were painted. I only saw natural wood doors in the Governor's palace which had some natural walnut interior doors. Just as in todays structures the more prestigious the building the more ornate the millwork was.


  1. Those doors sound beautiful and I love Williamsburg as well. The area is full of such amazing history!

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  3. this doors look good. useful information.