My house, like many old properties in France, especially towards the south where it’s hotter and drier, has been thoroughly neglected, certainly in recent years. Most of the paint on the exterior woodwork is cracking and pealing off and much of the wood itself is dry and splitting from the sun and rotten in parts.

This hasn’t concerned me too much because the windows and doors will be replaced with new double glazed units when the renovation and extension work that I have planned is completed and I was always prepared to live in the meantime with the problems and consequences arising from the items that were in disrepair.

The problem that has arisen, of course, is that the work has been subject to delay. I’ve got round my leaky roof problems by bridging the holes with pieces of bituminous roofing felt, things like that, but the woodwork has been more difficult to deal with, and in particular my house’s rear door.

In a word, it’s a real stinker. Whenever there has been a storm with the wind from the west, it has leaked like a sieve. I hoped that fitting weatherboards to both of my doors would help solve the problem but although this helped with my kitchen door, which is on an easterly elevation and rarely has to cope with driven rain, it didn’t do much to stop the water coming in through my rear door. And I do mean ‘through’ the door, not under or around, but through.

The earliest now that it will be replaced will be in the spring which still leaves possible poor weather in the winter still to come. I’m painting interior walls right now ready for putting up new thermal curtains before my family visitors arrive from the UK for Christmas and New Year and when they’re up, the last thing I want is for the ones over the rear door to get soaked if water comes flooding in all over the floor. So I thought that while it’s still dry and fairly warm I’d better do something about it.

The obvious problem was that much of the putty in the small glazed areas in the door itself and the windows on either side of it had dried, cracked up and dropped out. This was most likely how most of the rainwater was finding its way inside, but there were also other problems. Parts of the wood beading in the lower panel of the door were totally rotten and when I pealed off the lower portion today it brought a large part of the bottom of the door, which was rotten, away with it.

Now, I wasn’t looking today to create a work of craftsmanship or beauty by tackling the required repairs – it’s far too late for that and things are much too far gone. All I wanted to do was make things waterproof for the winter because if everything goes to plan, it’ll all be ripped out in the spring when the weather improves again anyway.

So my plans were to replace as much of the damaged glazing putty that I had to and then patch and seal the door in the hope of preventing future water ingress. The window putty was the most straightforward part, only made more difficult than it needed to be because they seem to like their linseed oil putty really soft and sticky over here, meaning that less experienced ‘glazers’ like me get totally garmed up with it all over their fingers, hands and tools and, inevitably as a result, the ‘job’ itself. Here are some shots of the window and door glass after I’d finished.

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The putty is still much too soft to paint over so I’m hoping that the weather will remain dry and warm as it currently is, until later in the week. If not it won’t be the end of the world but I would prefer to cover it.

The door itself was a bit more problematic. My plan was to just fill any gaps in the wood beading and panels with putty but when I pulled off the bottom section of beading it brought a large chunk of the bottom of the door, which was rotten, off with it. This explained how much of the water was getting through but it meant that it had to be patched in some way.

I did it by shortening the side beads a bit, screwing on a wooden panel across the lower section of the door (above the weatherboard that I fitted a couple of years or so ago) and filling any gaps with putty. I then gave it a quick coat of undercoat just to protect the new wood a bit and here are some shots of the final result.

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Like I said earlier, not very pretty but if it now stops rainwater entering the house, that’ll do me. It’s just a matter of keeping fingers crossed and waiting to see what happens. With a bit of luck, if we have a dry winter the work will have been unnecessary and if so, I won’t mind that either 😉

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