The material most commonly used to make both interior doors and exterior doors is wood. Wood is favored for a variety of reasons including its beauty, ability to accept multiple different finishes, workability, cost, and the ease with which it can be obtained. Wood is also favored because it comes in a multitude of different species that offer various structural benefits and aesthetic properties. Wood is the material most often used in custom-made doors.
Wood Door Construction
Originally, wood developed a bad reputation because it warped and rotted. Warping was largely a result of using solid wood in the production of doors while rot was due to a lack of superior sealants and finishes. This has changed, however, in the last 25 years. Most manufacturers now use a combination of engineered wood cores with wood veneer surfaces and employ a variety of advanced finishes to protect wood against the elements. Engineered doors are less likely to twist, cup, and warp. They also offer enhanced energy efficiencies, improved resistance against fire, and are less expensive to produce. Only the highest end, custom-made doors and a smattering of interior paneled doors are still made using solid wood.
There are actually a variety of methods for constructing wood doors. The most common method for door construction is the stile-and-rail (a.k.a. frame-and-panel) method. In this technique, vertical stiles and mated to horizontal rails to create the basic skeleton of a door. Within this frame, panels are fitted to offer variety and design aesthetics. Panels are often allowed to float freely within grooves in the stiles and rails while the stiles and rails are attached to one another using either mortise-and-tenon or dowel-and-glue joinery. Floating panel construction allows the door to expand and contract without warping or cracking.
In some cases, doors are produced using flush construction. In this method, doors do not have panels and generally have no raised or lowered details. Flush doors can be solid, but are more often made of a composite core with a veneer overlay.
For solid wood doors, stiles, rails, and panels are all made from individual pieces of solid wood. In composite doors, the pieces are made of medium density fiberboard (MDF), foam, or some other material over which a veneer is applied. In some cases, the entire door is constructed only of MDF and painted to provide a smooth finish.
Composite doors are cheaper, better for the environment, and often offer improved acoustic and thermal properties. Solid wood doors offer the greatest range of customization options and feel the most substantial to the touch. Composite doors tend to withstand wear and tear better and require less maintenance.
Wood Doors at Lee Lumber
Solid wood doors can be purchased from:
Marvin and Old World specialize in custom-made doors. Streko-O is a major manufacturer of flush wood doors. Composite doors can be purchased from all of the above manufacturers with the exception of Old World, which produces only solid wood doors.