Choosing a Door
There are few improvements that will give greater impact than replacing your interior doors. We all tend to take our doors for granted and we think little of them beyond their function. In actuality, your interior doors can make a statement of their own or they can be the perfect complement to your décor.
What to consider first:
- Style of your home
- The number of doors you are replacing?
- Is noise a factor in any room?
- Do you want the doors painted or stained?
- Do you plan on having the door frames replaced?
- Are there any existing elements you need to match or harmonize with, such as, wood panel wainscoting?
- Does the door need to be fire-rated?
- Do you need to change the swing of the door?
Wood: Solid wood doors come in a wide variety of hard and soft woods, commonly used, such as pine. Wood is warm and generally neutral in your décor. Wood is in the higher price range for replacement doors.
MDF: Many interior doors today are made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). This is an engineered product that will not warp like wood. MDF doors look beautiful when painted, but cannot be stained and has no natural grain.
Hollow Core: Usually made of a moulded composite skin (often simulating wood graining and panels) or plywood. This is an inexpensive door and can look very nice, since it is hollow, both sound and heat or cold can pass through the door easily. Moderately priced.
Solid Core: Has the same properties as the hollow core except it is filled with a wood fiber. These have greater sound and temperature control and take paint well. Moderately priced.
For a touch of class, add glass!
Glass comes in a wide variety of styles from plain window glass to many patterns of obscure glass – bamboo, rain glass, reeded glass. Glass will add to the cost of doors, but gives the impact of a designer’s touch – like the “seedy swirl”. Glass doors work well for defining rooms that are adjoined.
Door Function: Although you will want all of your doors to match, you may find that you need a slider here, pocket door there, a bi-fold somewhere else. The good news is most manufacturers make the same design configurations in all of these door types, so matching should be no problem.
Pre-hanging Doors: Pre-hanging a door means buying a door with a frame attached. This means the door is cut to fit the frame exactly, hinged and hung precisely and requires being set in place, level and square. This method will yield the most satisfactory result.
People often think it will save money to reuse the existing frames. However, the additional labor costs will offset any potential savings. Re-use of existing frames may also cause an issue with the type and location of the new hardware.
There are things to consider when choosing a new door, but let’s start with the basic questions.
- What is your exposure? Sun, wind, rain, traffic noise and security may all have bearing in your decision?
- Is natural light into your foyer a must for you?
- Do you want a larger door opening?
- Does your home demand a specific style in order to be compatible with the neighborhood?
- Are you planning to change size of the door or adding sidelights?
- Are you replacing door only on an existing frame or buying it pre-hung?
- Is security a concern for you?
- Have you determined a budget?
- Is your current door damaged or leaking around or under the door?
- What do you want your door to say about you?
Wood: The most common and popular choice. Wood doors have a warmth and versatility that is hard to replicate in other products. There are many variations in wood doors from solid hardwood to a veneer product “sandwiched” over an engineered wood center, down to paint grade wooden door, and each has its own purpose and beauty.
Pros: Can be configured in almost any variation from plain beautiful wood, whose grain is the artistry to the most ornately carved masterpieces. The finishes and colors are endless.
Cons: Maintenance. Wood is not recommended for area of high exposure to sun, wind, rain, or ocean air. All of these will cause deterioration. Consistent and steady maintenance will prolong the life of the door, but there are better choices for high exposure areas.
Fiberglass Composite: This product can be molded in one piece, a smooth or wood grained skin over a framework of wood with polyurethane foam insulation filling the voids or engineered core.
Pros: Requires little maintenance, is impervious to mold, rot, termites, sun, rain, and wind. It is offered in many configurations and can be purchased with factory finished colors. It can be painted or stained and has many times the insulating value of wood.
Cons: Not all sizes are available in all styles and with most standard fiberglass doors you just can’t simulate the warmth of wood and get the same effect. However, very high quality of fiberglass doors take stain very well and deliver a look that is very comparable to that of a fine wood door. It will also be comparable in price to fine wood.
Iron Doors: These have long been and usually still are custom-made door. Hand-crafted by welders and craftsmen. They are available in the larger custom sizes, including radius doors (those with rounded tops). Some will offer windows (within the doors themselves) that open and allow for ventilation.
Pros: Excellent security, impressive, okay for heavy weather exposure, low maintenance.
Cons: Heavy, not energy efficient, difficult to make water-tight, subject to rust, especially in coastal areas, can be very hot or very cold to the touch. The cost will be as much as or more than a heavy wood entrance door.
Hardware: Your choice of hardware is every bit as critical as your door purchase. Good hardware can be expensive, but worth the investment. Do not skimp here! Choose hardware with a good name and warranty. Your hardware (and its installation) allows your door to function properly and smoothly, but only if it is correctly installed. The skills for installing hardware are acquired over years of practice accompanied by precision tools that result in the perfect job. The best and most expensive hardware will work as designed only when installed properly.
Trimming It Out: Often the most “Plain Jane” door can become an outstanding feature with some ingenuity and a little moulding. A plain panel door topped with cornice can become instantly impressive.
The Installation Process
Establish a plan and follow it. Financially it makes more sense to choose and purchase frames, complimentary mouldings and hardware all at one time, with all materials in place, the installation will follow a specific order – saving both time and material, which means dollars saved for you.
As important as your new doors are, the installation is even more important. There is a science to door installation that when followed assures that your doors will fit properly, swing smoothly, line-up flawlessly and lock securely. Specific tools are required, as well as, the skills to use them.
To remove doors and windows, we penetrate the protective shell of your home. When that shell is penetrated it is extremely important that proper waterproofing material and techniques are used in the installation. The opening must be completely wrapped and sealed, and often it will require minor stucco patching around the perimeter. In extreme conditions, the installation of a sill pan may be required. Waterproofing products must be compatible with other building products used to complete the seal.
This is not a job for the local handyman. It is a precise and exact science that will yield a successful installation – one that will serve you for many years to come.
Thank you to The Door & Window Consultants for making me happy! I love my new doors and appreciate your team work to male this all come to fruition and turn out so beautifully. And thank you for keeping me informed on all steps and following through. Rita C.
Just wanted to drop you a note about how impressed we were with Julian and Lenell’s work and professionalism. It was a pleasure seeing two people who seem to not only enjoy their work, but did it in such way that the work seemed easy, though I know it’s not. They hung our front dutch door perfectly and the back 3 sliders were done to prefection. They were the nicest people to meet, on time every day, always told us what was going to happen that day and made an effort to show us where our floor beams had water adn termite damage. Thank you for the great work! – Laurel H.