Craftsmanship: Beautiful Bermuda cedar door with leadlight windows and side panels. *Photo supplied
Craftsmanship: Beautiful Bermuda cedar door with leadlight windows and side panels. *Photo supplied

Cedar doors and wooden windows add charm, warmth and a touch of class to Bermuda homes.

They were, of course, standard features of most homes built here until the early part of the last century.

In an age of mass production it is reassuring to know that there are still craftspeople on the island, like the ones at T-Made Custom Carpentry, part of the Bermuda Stripping and Refinishing Group (BS&R), who can make to order any doors, wooden blinds, windows and frames you desire.

“Traditional wood windows are what we specialize in,” says John Madeiros, manager at BS&R. “If an architect or homeowner specifies a particular type of window, we can make custom windows to any size or shape they want.”

Bermuda cedar is much prized and is at the high end when it comes to cost, Mr. Madeiros explained.

“A cheaper alternative is Virginia cedar, which we can varnish to look more like Bermuda cedar. But if people want Bermuda cedar that’s fine,” Mr. Madeiros said.

He added that at T-Made Custom Carpentry mahogany “is the everyday type we use, and we find the quality is much better than using varieties of pitch pine. With mahogany you can paint the outside and keep its natural colour for the inside.”

It might be unfair to make the comparison between mass-produced PVC and aluminium windows and doors, which have the advantage of being cheaper, with the wooden variety.

At T-Custom Carpentry the products they produce are done in the workshop by craftspeople, with a great deal of the work being done by hand tools.

Also, the vast majority of PVC and aluminium windows come in white, which Mr. Madeiros believes gives a house “a real cold feeling, with no character, as opposed to wooden windows which have all the character”.

With wooden window frames and doors maintenance should be ongoing and it shouldn’t be a real issue, according to Mr.  Madeiros.

“The biggest thing that goes wrong for the homeowner is that they allow the wood to go back too far.

“There should be a routine schedule of maintenance and you have to keep on top of it so the sun doesn’t affect the finish.

“You should always make sure the finish is good, whether that is yearly, or every six months. If you let the finish deteriorate the wood turns grey and white; then you have to scrape all that off, and it becomes a horrendous maintenance issue.”

At T-Made Custom Carpentry their doors and windows leave the workshop with a hard finish on it so that water will drain away, with the varnish used having a high ultra violet protection.

“Doors could leave here with a minimum of four coats and it has been more,” Mr. Madeiros said .

“For the exterior we generally advice a gloss finish; gloss is obviously slicker, easier to wash off, and for the interior we cut the finish down to a semi gloss or something less than the high gloss.”

Mr. Madeiros explained that many people have a misconception that salt-spray is going to affect their woodwork, especially those living at North Shore..

“Rain is going to wash all the dirt off; salt-spray could be an effect, but it’s the sun that’s beating on that door that will cause the finish to deteriorate,” Mr. Madeiros said.

His advice is that when it begins to look bad, give the wood a good wash off, sand, and apply a coat of good quality varnish with high ultra violet protection. T-Made Custom Carpentry make the frames and do the glazing as well. They use single glass called ‘double thick', which is about an eighth of an inch thick.

Mr. Madeiros explained that many PVC and aluminium windows and doors are double-glazed vacuum-sealed units which he considers ideal for extreme climates but not for Bermuda where people like to open their doors and windows. 

Also, when the seal on these units breaks, damp gets in between and a cloudy effect results within the two panes of glass.

As a craft-based industry T-Made Custom Carpentry pride themselves on quality, that is why you won’t find any cheap fittings on their windows and doors.

“There is no substitute for quality,” Mr. Madeiros said. “We have solid brass pulleys, sash locks, vent locks and screen lifts; all the hardware is solid brass.”

All customers have to do is have a clear idea of what they want and T-Made Custom Carpentry can refine it from there.

“We are a custom shop. We can do any shape of arch, oval, elliptical, sashes, doors with arches . . . any type of design you can come up with we can do.”