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How to Toe and Heel a Door

Posted on : May 10, 2018

A quality uPVC front door will last for many, many years, but over time it’s normal for these doors to suffer from a slight drop or lean. Whilst one side of the door is fully supported by hinges, the other side – the lock side – isn’t quite as sturdy, which is what causes this lean over to occur over a number of years of use.

This drop or lean can then lead to further problems, including trouble with locking the door, or even a gap that can cause drafts or leaks into the customer’s home during bad weather. Alternatively, the door could begin to rub against the frame and cause further damage, that might lead to a replacement being required. As such, it’s beneficial to act early and to take the steps needed to correct the door’s drop or lean and to prevent as much damage as possible.

A simple and effective way of correcting the door’s drop or lean is to toe and heel the door. This is a common method used by many locksmiths and uPVC repair engineers with troublesome door drops, especially when attempting to adjust the hinges doesn’t work. By correctly toeing and heeling the door, you should be able to realign to door with the frame and correct any leaning that has occurred.

If you’re new to the toe and heel process, continue reading to find out how to carry out the task and you’ll have the uPVC door in question looking just right in no time at all.

First things first – double check for any drop

It makes sense to carry out some measurements to begin with, to clarify that your customer’s door has indeed dropped. Professionals typically call a door that has dropped as being out of square.

It’s incredibly simple to check for any drop. Simply measure the door from corner to corner, diagonally. So you would be measuring from the top left corner down to the bottom right, followed by measuring from the top right corner down to the bottom left. Make a note of each of the measurements and, if they do not match, you’ll know for sure that there’s a definite drop in the door.

Toeing and heeling your customer’s door will reposition your customer’s door so that these measurement are once again equal.

Have the right equipment to hand

As with any other door maintenance tasks, it’s beneficial to have the right equipment ready before going ahead with toeing and heeling the door. You don’t need too many tools or accessories and what you do need, you’ll probably already have in your tool box:

  • One or two stiff putty knives – these will be used to remove the beading strips
  • A glazing shovel – this will help you to lift the door frame
  • A selection of packers and shims – these are readily available in many DIY stores
  • General purpose clear silicone

Begin to toe and heel the door

Once you have your equipment ready, the process of toeing and heeling your customer’s door can begin. It’s a relatively simple process so it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.

  1. Kick things off by removing the beading strips that hold any glass or panels to the door. It’s best to start with the longer strips and finish with the shorter strips. Simply place your stiff putty knife in-between the beading strip and the frame, about halfway down the strip. From there, gently work the knife as a lever until the beading strip breaks away.
  2. Once the beading strips have been removed, you can now remove any glass or panels from the door. From there, look for any packers that are within the frame and remove them, before reinstalling the glass or panels into the door frame. When you fit the glass or panels back into the frame, move it as close to the locking side of the door as possible, so that there’s a gap on the hinge side. From there, you should measure the distance between the glass or panel to the top of the frame and the distance between the glass or panel to the hinged side of the frame. Make a note of these measurements.
  3. Using the measurements detailed above, take two packers that are both half of the total width of the measurement (e.g. for a 8mm gap, your packers would need to be around 4mm each). Again, using the measurements detailed above, another two packers should be half of the total height measurement (from the glass or panel to the top of the frame). Once you have these packers ready, you can begin to position them within the frame.
  4. Using the clear silicone, place one of the width-based packers and one of the height-based packers within the bottom left corner of the frame. Each of the packers should be positioned around 50mm away from the corner, further along the longer door strip. These packers will help to distribute the pressure evenly. From there, you can add the glass or panel back into the frame.
  5. The glass or panel will naturally lean slightly towards the locking side of the door, which can be corrected by placing the glazing shovel into the lock side and gently pushing the glass of panel towards the hinged side. To hold this in place, add the second width-based packer to the top right corner of the frame, again, 50mm down from the corner.
  6. Now you will need to use the glazing shovel on the top of the lock side of the door, and work it gently to lift the frame into place, before adding the second height-based packer to the top right corner of the frame, 50mm left of the corner.
  7. Once all the packers are in place, you will need to check that the frame and the door panels are level with one another, as well as testing whether the door opens, closes and locks effortlessly, before refitting the beading strips.

Top Tip: For additional strength and security, you can add two further packers to each side of the door.

By following these 7 steps, you should have a level sitting uPVC door again in no time at all.


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