Early door and window furniture originated with the local craftsmen, blacksmiths and metal workers, and so are often unique to an area. Factory made ironmongery gradually evolved until the Victorian era when a complex variety of door and window fittings were mass produced. Many of these are again available as some firms specialise in exact reproductions of the original.
Old door furniture can be restored and if the locks fail to match modern security requirements a discreetly placed deadlock can supplement them without interfering with the character. Replacement ironmongery and fittings must be chosen carefully to match the period of the building.
In most traditional buildings gutters and downpipes are of cast iron, usually with either a half round or ogee faced box section. Although long lasting, cast iron eventually rusts away at the joints and owners often find that their gutters leak and are difficult to repair. Replacement in PVC or extruded aluminium is not the answer for old buildings though some cast aluminium systems do match the details correctly and eliminate the maintenance problems of cast iron. On historic buildings there is no substitute for replacement in new cast iron which is available with all the fittings, brackets and hoppers to match the original. One common problem is when guttering in one terrace house needs to be replaced, for it is difficult to patch an existing gutter. Some firms specialise in glass fibre based junction pieces for those awkward areas and this can avoid the replacement of guttering that is otherwise adequate.
Stonework often has hidden metal fixings, cramps and ties and these are invariably of iron rather than the more stable bronze. Damp penetration over the years rusts these fixings and they expand which causes the stone to crack and explode. Extensive replacement with stainless steel fixings may be necessary in serious cases but good maintenance of pointing and flashings can prevent serious problems occurring.
Restoration of industrial machinery is becoming more widespread and with it the recognition of the specialist repair and maintenance skills involved. It requires a unique blend of artistry and craft to manufacture replacement parts from the most basic of materials and to reassemble long disused machinery into working order. It is important to ensure that this machinery works thereby keeping the skills alive.
Metal balustrades, balconies, gates, railings, windows, rooflights, light brackets and a host of other fittings can be repaired or reproduced. Specialist companies produce exact copies from Victorian catalogues and skilled metal workers can repair or recast broken or missing pieces.
Also in this section:
- How to look after your historic building?
- 1) Masonry – Stone & Brick
- 2) Roofing – Slating, Tiling & Thatch
- 3) Roofing – Leadwork & Copper
- 4) Ironmongery & Metalwork
- 5) Joinery
- 6) Plasterwork and Renders
- 7) Glass and Glazing
- 8) Tiles and Tiling
- 9) Paintwork
- 10) Fittings
- 11) Remedial Works
- 12) Services
- 13) Specialist Surveys & Photography
- 14) Funding
- Guide to Abbreviations Used