The Decision Hinges on Preference: Choosing Wood for Your Door

Published: April 17, 2020

When you are choosing the style of door that you like, by all means go with the one that you like the best. But do not take the choice of wood for your door lightly. Its a big decision! More than just looks, the wood can have a tremendous impact on how well that door will serve you over the years.

Of course, if you simply want to match existing doors, your work is already done - get another one of those. For those just beginning to shop for doors, though, it is a good idea to ask yourself two questions. You probably have these questions answered before you even begin shopping, but in woodwork details count! The first thing to know is "What do I want this door to do?" The second, "What do I want this door to look like?" your choice of wood will be impacted by both of those answers.


Lets consider the first question. What do you want your door to do? Do you want it to be the new front door to your home? Do you just want a new closet door inside your home? It does matter. Really, what you're asking is one simple question: Inside or outside? An interior door may have to deal with pets and angry slamming from teenagers, but does not have the elements to contend with - though the aforementioned teenager can seem like an elemental force. Exterior doors have to deal with whatever mother nature throws your way - rain, snow, sleet, sun, wind-blown particles, etc.


It's simple to figure out what the door will do, but what do you want your door to look like? There is no point in getting fine woodwork if you hate how it looks. So lets reduce the question of how you want your door to an even more basic point. That is, do you want you door painted or natural wood? If you want your door to show off warm wood tones and fine grain, then paint is out and stain and varnish are in. However, if your home is full of painted surfaces and you want your door to match the color and style of the house or room it is in, then paint is very much on the agenda.

Decisions, decisions

When you visit Estate Millwork, there's a pretty good chance that you know where your new door will go and a general idea what you want it to look like. There's still the matter of which wood will suit your need. We can't make the decision for you, but we can help you .

Whatever you choose, keep in mind one special problem that doors have to deal with: Doors get abused! They are placed where people come and go. They will get bumped, kicked, scratched, and slammed. Whatever wood you choose, preserve it well. If you want to paint your door, prime, then choose a durable paint. If you want to stain your door, go ahead, but do not neglect the varnish.

So, here's a breakdown of popular choices based on your final use. These choices are based on the wood that performs best in each situation. Of course, if you have something else in mind, go with your heart!

Custom Oak Doors

Painted exterior doors If you're painting an exterior door, consider Spanish Cedar. With its low moisture content and unappetizing flavor to bugs, Spanish Cedar is an excellent choice for long lasting, durable woodwork. However, Spanish Cedar has a subtle wood grain that is not particularly attractive. This is a wood that you will probably want to paint.

Painted Interior doors If you're going to paint the doors inside your house, you can't go wrong with poplar. It has a very smooth finish and paints extremely well.Of course, the same factors that make it easy to paint also mean it's less durable for outdoor use. Yes, you can use poplar for exterior doors, but prepare for extra maintenance. This wood really shines on closet, bedroom, or other interior applications and when painted.

Stained oak interior doors For a door that lets the natural beauty of wood shine, oak is a great choice. Red Oak, in particular, has a very attractive color and grain. However, this is an oak more suited for interior applications. It soaks up water too well, and when water gets into your woodwork, trouble follows. However, for an attractive Interior door that shows off a beautiful grain, Red Oak is one to consider. Stain and varnish to your liking, but we recommend a lighter stain that does not detract from the color of this fine oak.

Stained oak exterior doors White Oak, on the other hand, is quite durable. So durable that It used to be a preferred wood for building ships.If it can handle the elements at sea, your front door shouldn't pose much difficulty. All Oaks stain well, so choose your favorite color for White Oak and don't forget the varnish. Properly maintained, you'll enjoy years of use fending off the elements with this solid exterior door choice.

Stain maple for interiors doors Maple's beautiful grain makes it a fine choice for a natural wood door. However, it is more vulnerable to shifts in temperature that other woods, so we recommend it for interior usage. The grain is too beautiful to cover with paint, so stain and varnish is the way to go with maple.

Beautiful walnut doors for all uses Walnut makes a fine door for any use, really. It is durable and shock resistant (very important qualities for a door), and it has a beautiful, dark grain. You will not need a deep stain on a Walnut door as it already has a deep, rich color, but don't neglect the varnish. Walnut doors tend to be a bit vulnerable to insects, so if you are using it as an exterior door, finish it well. For a wood of this deep color and rich grain, painting is really a waste. You will love the color of Walnut all by itself.

Natural Cherry for exterior and interior doors For a beautiful wood door that can be used in all applications, consider cherry. Cherry is an excellent choice for both exterior and interior. It is resistant to the elements and decay, which makes it a good, reliable wood for many uses. It is also rather special in that the color of the wood will darken with time. This will really enhance its own grain given enough time, and you don't have to do a thing! Because of its beautiful color and grain, painting is not recommended. Neither is staining, for the wood does not take stain well at all. If you are picky about your colors, though, keep in mind the changing color of Cherry over time when you plan to decorate.

Warm mahogany doors Mahogany is another good choice for any door. With a beautiful color and grain, it is another wood that you do not want to paint. Durable, resistant to water and abuse, it was popular with shipbuilders, a nice endorsement if you're looking for something that lasts. Like Cherry, Mahogany also darkens with time, though perhaps not as quickly. The effect of a finished Mahogany door is spectacular! If you want your door to lend a deep, warm aura to your room or house, and stay tough and resistant, then Mahogany is your choice.

Low-maintenance teak doors Teak is another remarkable wood that is very resistant to water. Lightweight, and light in color, teak can last for generations with a little maintenance. Again, a poor choice for painting, the light color and grain lend it a bright and sunny aura, so consider that when you are considering your decorating needs. Resistant to dents and scratches, teak lends itself to Louvered doors almost naturally! The lightness of the wood is another factor. If you want a door that opens easily and lightly, then Teak is your choice, and it will make an excellent Inner door. In Windy climates Teak might not make such a good Outer door choice. Unless it is seated very well, it might be prone to rattling with local winds. That light quality means it is easily moved, after all, and you generally want an Outer door to stay shut.

Keep in mind, the above suggestions are guidelines to help you choose the door that meets your needs. However, do not overlook your wants. If you really want a maple front door, then by all means get one. Just be prepared for the extra effort that may go into maintaining it.

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