Traditional Scottish Timber Front Doors

The following article is based on a leaflet produced by Historic Scotland’s Technical Conservation, Research and Educational Group.

Original timber doors are an important aspect of the character and authenticity of a Scottish home. Their proportions and positions, together with the detail of mouldings and panelling are important elements in the aesthetics and significance of a building. Traditional Scottish external timber doors were made of pine or, occasionally, hardwoods, such as oak. Many were highly decorated, with imposing surrounds of columns, canopies and classically inspired pediments.

Over the past few decades many traditional timber doors have been inappropriately replaced with modern doors made from materials such as UPVC and aluminium. These products not only alter the character and appearance of a building but it is unlikely that they will last as long as a traditional timber door that has been maintained correctly. As a result, many of Scotland’s local authorities now operate a policy that discourages the installation of these type of doors in Listed buildings.

A brief history of timber doors

This following very briefly outlines the main influences on door designs over the past few centuries:

  • Industrial Revolution – Easier and cheaper transportation of raw materials led to mass production of doors and standardisation of designs.
  • Chubb Detector Lock – At the end of the eighteenth century developments in lock technology such as the invention of the first Chubb Detector Lock meant that traditional doors could be made more secure.
  • Introduction of Fanlights – During the Georgian period, many houses were built with doors that incorporated fanlights above the main entrance. Over time these designs became extremely ornate and the use of decorative glass became very common.
  • World War I and II – In times of austerity after the First World War period doors were often replaced with cheaper simpler designs, and following the Second World War – mouldings were covered over with solid wood or plywood panels.

External timber door construction.

Here at TJ Ross our traditional timber doors have real ‘kerb appeal’.  Handmade by our highly skilled craftsmen using traditional mortice and tenon joints tightened up throughout by the use of small wedges driven and glued into the tenon. Our door panels are held in place by being inserted into grooves cut in the door frame. This construction allows the timber panels to move slightly as the timber expands and contracts with climatic changes in temperature and humidity.

We encourage our customers to choose a timber design and paint finish that is as close a match or indeed a like-for-like replacement.  Failure to do this can affect the building’s aesthetic appeal and may reduce the property’s market value. Original proportions should be maintained as timber doors will always look better on traditional buildings than modern plastic ornamental alternatives.

If you are considering replacing your front door and would like a free quote from T J Ross (Joiners) Ltd please contact us on 01337 860318 or email us at