Wood is enjoying a tremendous resurgence in popularity as a design element. This is especially true in the case of hardwood doors, particularly paneled doors made of mahogany and oak.
Choosing unfinished hardwood doors can save you money if you are willing to take the time and trouble to do the finishing yourself. This usually involves a four-or-five-step process for exterior doors and a three-to-four-step process for interior doors. Some companies that sell unfinished hardwood doors include complete instructions for finishing the door you select.
If you want a mahogany door, be sure it has a classic ribbon-striped grain and a natural red tint. If you are choosing an oak door, look for the characteristic swirling grain that distinguishes top quality.
Examine the door panels closely. They should be squared, matched as to color and grain, and all joints should fit precisely with no gaps. Surfaces should be smooth and uniformly sanded with no bumps or ridges.
Ask about moisture content. The moisture content should be 7 to 8 percent, similar to that of fine furniture, a percentage that should make the doors stable and durable.
Doors from a reliable manufacturer will have been sanded to a smooth, satiny surface on all parts, including difficult-to-sand molding and panel rise areas. This makes the surfaces ready to receive the stain and final finish. In exterior doors, leaded glass panels have become a popular addition to the entryway. Opaque, water glass, glue chip and beveled glass are available as components in many stock pane designs.
Glass panels in the door itself and in fixed panels aside the main door let in natural light and offer the visitor a bright welcome. When choosing leaded glass panels, examine the ”caming” or metalwork that holds the glass in place. It should be uniform, with straight lines and clean joints.
Triple-glazed units in which the decorative glass panels are encased within two other panels of clear, tempered glass are another assurance of top quality. It offers excellent insulation and low maintenance, and is safer because tempered glass will not shatter into small pieces.
If you are handy, you can install the door yourself. But keep in mind that a door made of mahogany or oak is heavier than a softwood door. Be sure the hinges are installed correctly so the door swings freely and meets the door jamb and locking mechanism precisely.
Because of the weight of the door, consider using solid brass or brass-plated hinges. A distributor who has everything in stock can get together a complete package that will include, besides the door, solid brass hinges, triple-glazed glass panels with matched brass caming, possibly sidelights and transom, and a solid brass mortise.
At many building product dealers, hardwood doors are a stock item, so you should be able to find samples on display, as well as cutaway sections that show how the door is constructed.
Look for informative literature and knowledgeable sales help. One item sometimes overlooked, but important, is an assurance of quick delivery from a local stocking distributor. And ask about the manufacturer’s warranty, checking with your dealer to make sure the door manufacturer has a solid ”track record.”