An entryway is the focal point of a home’s facade. And the front door, its most prized asset. Dressed with a fine lockset and handsome knocker, the door extends a friendly welcome while also discouraging intruders and shutting out the weather. It’s the first thing we grab when we arrive and the last thing we touch when we leave. So it’s easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood. Nothing else matches the material’s warmth and satisfying heft. Or offers so many design options. Steel doors are stamped; fiberglass pops out of a mold. But a wood door can be custom crafted in virtually any shape or size and incorporate whatever molding profiles, panel configurations, glazing options, or carvings that you please.
The knock on wood doors—that they warp—well, that’s largely a thing of the past, when they were made of solid stock. For the past 25 years, most major manufacturers have crafted their entry doors with glued-up engineered-wood cores, which overcome solid wood’s tendency to twist and cup. That handsome outer layer is actually just a thick veneer. Don’t think of this as cheaping out; with regular care, such a door should easily match the life span of your house.
That extra effort—in the form of a fresh coat of paint or polyurethane every couple of years—is the price we pay for choosing wood. But it’s a small one, considering the visual and tactile rewards a wood door gives us every time we come home.
Slab vs. prehung?
Prehung doors come hinged to a weather-stripped frame, eliminating the need to square the door in its jamb, and with holes already bored for a lockset. They’re best for new construction (below), when rough framing is exposed. Slab doors, sold without hinges and often with no lockset boring, are generally used to replace existing doors when jamb and trim are in place.
What’s it cost?
A stock slab door at a home center starts at $150, a prehung around $400. Custom prehung doors can run more than three times that, starting at about $1,500.
What’s the warranty?
Defects in materials or construction are covered for two to five years. The factory finish is usually warranteed against failure for two years.
How much care?
Sunlight is the number-one finish killer, causing clear coats to degrade and paint pigments to fade. Sand and recoat varnished doors every year, polyurethaned doors every other year. Painted doors should get fresh coats every five to six years.
Consult this handy list to see if a wood door makes sense for your house.
Is it protected from rain?
A wood door holds up best, and requires less maintenance, in a covered entryway. To be effective, that roof should project at least half the height of the door, including its sill and any overhead windows, such as the transom shown on the right. If the roof is 10 feet above the door’s landing, for example, it should project 5 feet. Also, the roof’s width should be at least 1½ times the door’s.
Is it exposed to the sun?
Doors that bake in the sun for more than 4 hours a day will quickly lose their looks without routine care. Clear-coated doors must be recoated every one to two years, and painted ones require a fresh coat every five to six years.
Is the sill high enough?
It should clear a porch landing by 4 to 6 inches to prevent built-up snow or pooled rainwater from causing rot.
Is fire a concern?
Check your local building codes, particularly if you live in a place prone to wildfires. A few doors are rated to withstand 60-minute infernos.
How cold does it get?
Standard 1¾-inch-thick wood doors have an R-value of about 2.5, close to that of a double-pane window. That’s far lower than a foam-filled fiberglass or steel door, but with tight weatherstripping you can boost its ability to stop air infiltration.
If you want to get any further info about wooden doors, please feel free to contact us.
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