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July 8th 2015

Summer heat, how does it affect your doors?

The temperatures last week reached a magnificent high with reports of up to 36.7°C in some parts of the UK. We can certainly say summer is finally here after months of standard grey dull weather. The heatwave along with a couple of calls from customers having trouble with their doors, inspired me to write a quick blog entry on the effects of heat on timber doors. Timber doors as with many other materials can be affected by temperature and climate, more so here in the UK where our weather seems to swap between extremes in a matter of days or recently even on the same day.

So here’s a quick insight into how wood reacts to heat and how we can minimise and protect our timber doors.

Beach Huts

Brighton Beach Huts, image © Kevin Poh and used under CC license

If we look closely at timber it is far from a solid material, the formation of the timber as it grows is made of individual fibres and cells. These have a moisture content, and this moisture when in tree form allows the tree to not only live, but to adapt should there be a change in the climate or temperature. It is known as a hygroscopic material, meaning it can naturally expel and absorb water from its surrounding environment. When timbers are subjected to heat, the water it contains expands and so does the timber. In an equivalent way to heating water in a pan makes it turn into steam and expand. Heating usually causes timers to swell and potentially warp or twist. If the moisture in the timber can escape it may even cause the timber to shrink when it cools later in the evening. How much your door changes with the temperature depends on a variety of factors including the species, construction and treatment of the timber.

So, how do we protect our doors from this staggering summer heat? We and our importers employ quite a few differing methods;
Firstly the timbers are treated at the factory to optimise their water content. Timbers are usually kiln dried or left to rest to reduce the moisture content down from its natural state. This adds strength and reduces the weight of the timber before it is manufactured into a door.

The majority of our doors are of an engineered construction, this construction can vary dramatically between door types, but overall an engineered construction generally means that the door resists the natural movement of timbers. A major advantage, especially for external doors where the timber is subjected to the most extreme climate.

Storage is also a huge factor. Our importers ensure that the doors are stored at the correct temperatures and aren’t left in contact with the ground. All our doors are imported ready packed in substantial plastic sleeves. This plastic sleeve doesn’t just protect the doors in transit but it keeps the moisture content at a constant, which is why we say when you unpack your doors it’s important to apply your finishing product right away. If the room is hot the doors may begin to lose moisture, or too damp and they may absorb it.

Finishing is most certainly the most important part in protecting a new door from the heat, as well as UV if your doors is in direct sunlight. Many products are available for finishing timber, but its most important to use the correct products to seal your doors so the moisture content is preserved. Finishes such as Sikkens Rubbol or Sadolin Ultra are recommended by us as we’ve tried and tested them on our external doors for many years and know them to be most effective in sealing the timber and protecting the wood from UV.

If you’re in doubt as to how to finish your doors then take a look at our finishing guidelines or don’t hesitate to get in touch with the sales team on 0800 002 9440, they’ll be more than happy to discuss the best products and methods to use on your timber doors.