Door Buying Guide

What to consider when buying a door – including the main features and the pros and cons of different types of doors. Doors serve a practical and aesthetic role in the overall interior design of your home. The front door provides a first impression, along with security and privacy to your property. Internal doors shut areas off, which can mean savings on heating and cooling, noise reduction and the miraculous disappearance of clutter.

FEATURES

Appearance

Your front door is a gateway to your home. It’s the perfect place to create a welcoming impression. Using the same style of door throughout your home will create an aesthetic theme throughout. Remember to consider the design of your house as well – an older style home will lend itself to an antique front door, while a metallic finish may suit a more contemporary style.

Durability

Doors come in a variety of materials, each having different strengths. This is of particular importance when installing exterior doors. You don’t want to make a robber’s job easier with a flimsy door, or have them tarnished by the weather. Inside the house you can save money by opting for less solid doors.

Insulation and energy efficiency

Doors are an effective and simple method of climate control. A more solid door, while often more expensive, will generally permit less heat to escape and enter your house, meaning less money spent and energy wasted on heating and cooling.

Ventilation

A strategically placed door can be an important way of circulating air through your house. A good architect will orient your house and place your doors in a way that best befits your block.

Soundproofing

Consider noise from the street when buying a front door, and noise from entertaining areas when buying doors for those spaces.

Security

Exterior doors are an important part of home security, keeping unwanted guests out. Consider this when choosing a door, particularly your front one, and don’t forget to buy a good locking system, like a deadlock.

Lighting

Glass doors are an effective way of letting light into your house. However they should be situated properly, and matched with curtains to maintain your privacy and the temperature inside your home.

Privacy

Finally, solid doors give us our privacy within a house and let us hide our mess from visitors.

TYPES OF DOORS

Wooden doors

Most wooden doors are, in fact, not solid wood. Some doors are made with a medium density fibreboard core, others are made with polyboard, and the lightest option uses a honeycomb core which is essentially cardboard. Teak is a good bet and if your budget permits, rosewood and mahogany can be a better choice. If your budget does not permit, you can go for other cheaper options made up of pine and sheesam. Pros

  • Elegant, timeless look
  • Especially suited to older styles of homes
  • Stained wood adds a sense of warmth
  • Alternatives such as honeycomb core weigh half as much and cost less than solid styles

Cons

  • Require ongoing maintenance such as staining and painting
  • Beware cheap construction and buy appropriately: a honeycomb core can lack the strength, soundproofing, and insulation properties of real timber
Aluminium doors

These doors are normally powdercoated with a colour of your choosing. They can fit in well to contemporary interior designs. To say doors are made of aluminium is a slight misnomer – doors labelled aluminium are generally made of glass framed by metal. Pros

  • Generally more weatherproof than timber
  • Don’t require repainting

Cons

  • Cannot be re-surfaced – be sure of your colour choice when you buy
Flush

A flush door is the simplest of doors, as all of its surfaces are flat. Flush doors are used inside the house and made of wood or fibreglass. Pros

  • Suitable for many uses
  • Costs less as it’s basic

Cons

  • Undecorated – not suitable for a front door
  • Solid face doesn’t let light in
Stile & Rail

This older style of door is made from planks of timber – or a wood composite. The name refers to its components – vertical members, called stiles, and horizontal members called rails. Pros

  • Great for a federation or country style look
  • Solid construction keeps noise out and heat in

Cons

  • Less suitable for contemporary interiors
  • Solid face doesn’t let light in
French

Commonly used to connect your garden with your house, a French door is one made of glass and framed (most commonly) by wood or aluminium. They are found as both single and double doors. Pros

  • Lots of styles available to suit your house’s design
  • Perfect to let light into your house

Cons

  • Fragile – look for a strengthened glass
  • Lets heat in
Hinged

This swinging door is the most common type. It rotates around one edge, and sometimes comes in a pair, such as the smaller ‘saloon’ doors you might find in a kitchen. Pros

  • Hinges are easier to install than railings
  • Easier to maintain – no railings for the door to fall off

Cons

  • Needs space to swing through to open
  • May be difficult to get the door perfectly square in the doorway
Sliding

These doors are often a gateway to the backyard. Large glass panes let lots of light in, and lots of ventilation when opened. Solid sliding doors are used indoors when space is an issue as there may not be enough room for a wing door to open – this is especially useful in bathrooms. Inside, sliding doors are often ‘pocket’ doors – so called because they slide into a pocket in the wall when open. Pros

  • Require less space than a hinged door
  • Pocket doors can be hidden, giving a clean aesthetic

Cons

  • Rails can be hard to install
  • Must have strong load-bearing structure above it to hang off
  • Can slip off guard rail

Stacker These doors are a series of sliding doors that ‘stack’ on top of each other. Like sliding doors, you can’t open up a whole wall with a stacker, because all the doors sliding over each other will still create a solid ‘door’ at one end of the opening. Pros

  • Opens up your space more than a simple sliding door

Cons

  • More elements means more potential problems with doors slipping from guard rails
Bi-fold

Bi-fold doors – literally two doors that fold on top of each other, but also used to mean many doors that fold together – open to virtually 100 per cent of the space they cover when shut. The trade off is a stack of doors that sits perpendicular to the door. Like most other sliding doors, the weight of a bi-fold door is borne entirely by the top railing – the bottom one is merely a guide rail. This means the top of your doorway may have to be strengthened before you can get bi-folds. Pros

  • Opens up the entire door opening
  • Requires less space to ‘store’ the door when opened

Cons

  • Needs some perpendicular space for the doors to fold into
  • Like other sliding doors must be installed perfectly flush for the mechanism to work smoothly
Louvre

A louvred door has horizontal slats that can be opened to permit airflow while maintaining some privacy and security – although most louvred doors are glass, and found at the rear of a house. Pros

  • Allows airflow even when the door is closed

Cons

  • Small, solid louvres compromise your view
  • Can be fiddly to clean to ensure the mechanism works smoothly

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