Interior Doors Buying Guide
by Don Vandervort, HomeTips © 1997-2018
April 17, 2018
There are several types of interior doors, distinguished by the way they operate. Regardless of the type of doors, the frames are built basically the same, with the exception of pocket doors (see below). The frame consists of jambs, a casing, stops, a sill, and a threshold. The jambs form the sides and head of the frame, and the casing is support for the jambs. The stops are wood strips against which the door fits when closed.
Hinged doors are the standard in every home. Conventional hinged doors may be either right or left handed. A door that opens toward you and has the door knob on the right is right handed. A door hinged on the opposite side is left handed.
Most hinged doors have the same basic framework consisting of two stiles that run vertically and two or more rails that run horizontally.
Hinged doors are attached by two or three hinges to their frames. The hinges are on the hinge stile; the latch and lock are on the lock stile.
Folding doors save space, allow good access.
Folding doors are often used to conceal a wide space where a conventional door’s swing would be awkward or restricted. Mounted in hinged-together pairs, folding doors combine the actions of both sliders and hinged doors, using both end pivots and overhead tracks.
Bypass doors, often used on closets or storage areas, are lightweight indoor sliders that hang from rollers that run along an overhead track. They’re typically mounted in pairs or threes; they bypass one another to allow access. Mirrored bypass doors are very popular for closets.
L.E. Johnson Hardware
Stylish barn-door hardware tracks allow doors to glide smoothly and safely.
Wall-Mount Barn Doors
Interior “barn doors” that glide flat against the wall are popular where space is at a premium. Many styles are available, from rustic to contemporary.
For homeowners who want space-saving, smooth-gliding interior “barn doors,” Johnson hardware makes new DIY hardware kits. These wall-mounted tracks are designed to hold any door that weighs up to 200 pounds. Track lengths are from 48 to 96 inches long. Their soft-closing feature protects against pinched fingers. They are priced at just over $150, and they are protected by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
Pocket doors are another type of slider that is ideal for places where there isn’t room for a door to swing. A pocket door slides into a space, or “pocket,” that is installed in the wall. The frame of a pocket door has a side jamb that is split to receive the door, and a top jamb with a track built into it. Rollers mounted on the top of the door glide along this track.
Entry Doors Buying Guide
Making an Entrance
May 2016 Consumer Reports
Entry doors are often more than just front doors—those we tested can also be used in back or on the side. Because the front entrance of your home commands the most attention from the street, it also commands the most attention in the marketplace. Here's what to consider, wherever you put it.
We've found that most entry doors perform well overall. But the materials they're made of—fiberglass, steel, and wood—each have strengths and weaknesses. And while a low-priced steel door can be the equal of a wood or fiberglass door costing five times as much, it's not the best choice for wear and tear.
Door-to-Door Shopping Tips
Whether you buy at a store or online, you'll save time by doing some research online and at least visiting a store to truly see what you're buying. Manufacturer sites describe materials and offer catalogs, and can help you to find a local retailer. And even if you don't see the exact door you want, a similar model can give you a good idea of construction and finish.
Steel and fiberglass doors typically have more insulating value than wood doors. Models that are Energy Star-qualified must be independently tested and certified, and often boast tighter-fitting frames, energy-efficient cores, and, for models with glass, double- or triple-panel insulating glass to reduce heat transfer. You'll find more details on the federal EPA's EnergyStar website. But you may not save as much as you think, since doors are a small part of the surface area of a house and typically don't allow significant amounts of warm air to escape. What's more, heat is generally lost through air leaks around the door, not through the door itself.
Entry doors are also known as door systems because they come pre-hung in a frame and are often pre-drilled for a knob and deadbolt. Unless a replacement door is part of a larger remodeling project, you may want the new door to be the same size as the old one. Choosing a larger door or adding sidelights means redoing the door framing around the door—a job best left to a contractor. Home centers generally offer installation or referral services. Unless you're a skilled carpenter, you may also want to hire a pro to install same-size doors.
Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe
It takes a quality door lock to deter burglaries and home invasions. Many crooks kick in doors to get in. But unless your door is hollow, it's not the door itself that lets burglars in. Our tests with a battering ram have shown little difference in strength among door materials. All eventually failed because the doorjamb split near the lock's strike plate, though we also found that beefed-up locks and strike plates can greatly increase a door's kick-in resistance.
Some other ways to strengthen an exterior door: Use a lock with a 1-inch-long deadbolt and a reinforced metal box strike. Use 3-inch-long mounting screws so they lodge in the framing beyond the door jamb. And don't overlook the door that leads into your house from the garage.
Types of Entry Doors
Major door manufacturers such as Masonite, Peachtree, and Pella offer a wide range of doors made of various materials. Here are the types of door materials to consider.
A practical choice for most people. These doors are available with a smooth surface or, more typically, an embossed wood-grain texture. An edge treatment on some makes them look more like real wood.
Pros: Fiberglass doors resist wear and tear better than steel. They can be painted or stained, are moderately priced and dent-resistant, and require little maintenance.
Cons: They can crack under severe impact.
This type of door accounts for about half the market.
Pros: They're relatively inexpensive and can offer the security and weather resistance of much pricier fiberglass and wood doors. Steel doors require little maintenance—unless dents are a part of your home scenario. They're energy-efficient, though adding glass panels cuts their insulating value.
Cons: Steel doors didn't resist weather as well as fiberglass and wood doors in our abuse tests and the laboratory equivalent of torrential rain, strong winds, and a decade of wear and tear. And while they're typically low-maintenance, dents are hard to fix, and scratches may rust if they aren't painted promptly.
Provides the high-end look that other materials try to mimic.
Pros: Solid-wood doors were best at resisting wear and tear in our tests. They're also the least likely to dent, and scratches are easy to repair.
Cons: Wood doors remain relatively expensive. And they require regular painting or varnishing to look their best.
Entry Door Features
Manufacturers offer dozens of options for panel and glass designs, grille patterns, sidelights, and transoms. The more elaborate the design, the more the door will cost. Here are the door features to consider when shopping.
This helps keep any door weather-tight over time. Otherwise, you may eventually need to add a new sweep to the bottom to seal out rain and drafts.
Glass inserts are attractive, but they add to the cost. If you're buying a door with glass near the doorknob or with glass sidelights, consider a double-cylinder dead-bolt lock. You need a key to open this type of lock whether you're inside or outside, so a burglar can't simply break the glass and reach in to open the door. Some municipalities ban double-cylinder locks since they may make it harder to get out in an emergency; check with your building department, and always leave a key within arm's reach of the interior lock. Glass inserts also cut the door's insulating value, though double- or triple-panel glass reduces that effect.
Rails and Stiles
These are the horizontal and vertical parts that brace a wood door. Solid-wood rails and stiles may eventually bow or warp. Look for rails and stiles made of laminated wood covered with veneer, which provides the greatest resistance to warping.
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