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The pros and cons of wooden doors

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If you are on the lookout for a new or replacement wood door for the home one of the first considerations is the type of door to choose from.
In the vast majority of cases, the choice will be between wood doors, solid core doors and hollow core doors so we will look at these in some detail.
Several factors need to be considered when choosing a replacement door such as its location, the style, the colour and finish as well as accessories will be needed..
Some say there is nothing to compare with a real wooden door. Wood is a natural renewable resource that offers beauty, flexibility and style.
The choice of a wooden door may be determined by budget considerations, the door's location, the door finishes that are available and how much time and effort you are prepared to spend on maintenance and upkeep.
When all things are considered you should have a better understanding of wood doors and finishes and a more informed idea of the best choice of door for your home.

Solid timber doors

Solid wood doors are manufactured from engineered natural wood. They are usually constructed using frames and panels rather than a single piece of wood.
The type of wood used in a solid wood door can vary from dense grained hardwoods such as oak, walnut or maple to loose grained softwoods such as pine, larch or cedar.
There are literally hundreds of types of hardwood and softwood and both have excellent machining properties and can be used throughout the home, not only for doors but floors, skirting, window frames, furniture, mouldings, veneers – you name it. Solid wood doors are the traditional choice for many homeowners and are associated with high quality, sturdiness and style. Wood can also be waxed, oiled, varnished and weather-sealed to make them useful for both internal and external use.

Advantages of solid wood doors.
Wooden doors from a sustainable source are good for the environment and a solid door can be long-lasting and offer good heat and noise insulation if looked after properly. Here are the main advantages of choosing a solid wood door.
Insulation – wooden doors offer good thermal protection, especially when installed with decent draught excluders and edging sealants.
Soundproofing – the denser the material the better the soundproofing but all wood doors offer good insulation against sound as wood easily absorbs sound waves.
Aesthetics – solid wooden doors have great visual and tactile appeal. They not only look good, but they also look and feel classy and can add enormously to the value to a home.

Disadvantages of solid wood doors
Solid doors look and feel great but they do have some drawbacks and it's important not to overlook these when coming to a decision.

Price – solid wood doors are not cheap. They can easily cost twice as much as other doors and if you are on a tight budget, you will need to ensure that it will stretch to the price of solid wood.
Fitting – solid doors are relatively heavy, especially when manufactured in dense hardwood. If they need to the altered, the extra fitting work can add to the total price.
Maintenance – Wood is a natural material and needs to expand and contract, depending on the temperature and humidity. This brings a maintenance overhead if they are to look their best over time.

Hollow core doors

Although they are called hollow, this type of wooden door is not truly hollow at all. Hollow core doors are manufactured like a sandwich with a honeycomb interior core, often of stiff cardboard or plastic, between layers of wood or fibreboard.
Hollow doors are much cheaper and lighter than solid doors and are only suitable for internal use. Most new estate homes will have hollow core doors as they are relatively easy to install and inexpensive to buy.

Advantages of hollow core doors
Price – this is definitely top of the list as they are far cheaper than solid core doors. If you need to buy a number of replacement doors for your home, the cost can quickly mount up.
Installation – hollow doors are lightweight for easy handling, making installation a breeze.

Disadvantages of hollow core doors
Durability – doors of this type are more prone to damage and don't last as long.
Insulation – the lightweight constructions means these doors do not have the heat insulation properties of solid doors.
Soundproofing – sound insulation is relatively poor.

Solid core doors

Solid core doors try to strike a balance between sold wood and hollow core. This type of wood door has a solid centre of processed wood such as MDF sandwiched between thin veneers of natural wood. Solid core doors have the benefit of good thermal and sound insulation but without the overheads of high price and difficulties in the fitting.

Advantages of solid core doors
Price – although not as cheap as hollow doors, they are still much less pricey than solid wood doors.
Durability – solid core doors are long-lasting and hard-wearing and require less maintenance than their hollow core neighbours.
Insulation – the core may not be solid wood but it can be made of dense material that provides good heat and sound insulation properties.

Disadvantages of solid core doors
Installation – though not as heavy as solid timber, these doors are not lightweight and installation may not be a one-person undertaking.

Choosing the best type of wooden door

Making a choice between solid timber, solid core and hollow core will depend on a number of factors. If you are fitting a large number of replacement doors they need not all be the same type. Different door types can be suitable for different locations. You would never, for example, choose a hollow core for your external front door where security, weatherproofing and insulation are at a premium.
Likewise, a solid timber door may not be the best choice for a storeroom, study or pantry. For the bedroom, soundproofing and thermal insulation might be paramount whereas style and maintenance would probably be high on the list for prominent and well-used living rooms and kitchens.

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