by Kate Theodore

Vintage or Custom — Amazing Steel French Doors

Check out this awesome set of doors:

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Steel windows and doors offer greater strength and design flexibility.

Noteworthy unique features:

  • Look how much less “structure” is in these doors. Less to obstruct your view!
  • Look how wide each door is!
  • Steel ages a little over time, creating comforting authenticity
  • Steel windows and doors are very secure

Hard To Find?

100 years ago doors and windows like this were manufactured by the thousands, so they do exist. They may be very hard to find, but if you know of some good vintage building material hunting grounds, it would be worth an excursion. Sounds fun anyway!

Designing a project around an awesome old piece found in a pile somewhere is about the pinnacle of remodeling rock-star status anyway, so I think you should go for it!

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Have Them Made!

If someone told you to go out and have your own unique custom new car made, you would probably think they were either way too rich or just plain crazy. Cars are expensive enough when mass produced, let alone made just for you.

Interestingly, the price bump for custom made building products is rarely as substantial. Look closely at an old steel window or door. It’s not that complex. A willing steel shop could fabricate a set of doors like this in less time than you would think and in my experience the price isn’t that bad. Especially when you compare it to the cost of a mass-produced “high-end” window or door. Those things aren’t cheap!

Tips for having doors or windows custom made:

  • have an example to show – find an old window sash that is made the way you want, even if it is the wrong size completely. You can use it to show the fabricator what you want.
  • bring a picture – If you can, bring a picture like the one above that is as close to what you want as you can find. It’s much easier for a shop to price custom work if you say the magic words “exactly like this”.
  • bring a drawing – If you have the skeeelz, draw a plan showing what you want. If you know a draftsman you might have an actual plan drawn up. (caution: showing up with expensive looking plans will help you get what you want, but it will usually raise the price)
  • think it through – Imagine the process of creating and installing the custom item. Think of how you’ll attach it to the building, how high you want the handles, how many hinges you want, etc. This will help you get an accurate estimate and a finished product that meets your needs.
  • think beyond the specialist – Steel work requires on very skilled guy: a welder. Beyond that, you don’t necessarily need a “window maker”. You’ll probably pay more at a “window and door” shop than you would at a place that looks a little like a junkyard but has a sign out front that says “steel fabricator” or “metalwork”.

Have you ever had a custom building product made? Have you ever designed and remodeled around a vintage bit of greatness?

I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. John Keleher says:

    What an great post, I just have one criticism. Using a steel fabricator rather than a window and door specialist may cause problems, especially if you want your french windows to be the same size as in your images.

    Specialist knowledge is required to make sure the windows will operate correctly e.g. close completely (no draughts), and that the fittings especially hinges are strong enough to hold the inner frames.

    We manufacture some huge steel doors for the North American market, and even with our experience, our technical team test install each door before it is shipped.

  2. Mojdeh says:

    Love it

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