Tuesday, May 10, 2016


A few decades ago, you had two main choices of interior door:  A hollow-core slab door in Philippine mahogany, or one in paint grade. My, how tastes change.

Your standard-issue six-panel Colonial
door—king of the hill since the '80s.
Today, the molded six-panel Colonial door is king.  First made popular by tract builders during the 1980s, these retro-look doors are manufactured of wood fiber formed under pressure and won’t warp or split.  They’re available prefinished in a limited number of colors and can also be had prehung. Mind which brand you choose, though; some have really preposterous wood graining molded in.

From Grandma's house:
An old single-panel door
made of honest-to-God
For devotees of genuine wood, other choices are available.  Stile-and-rail panel doors—the kind your Grandma’s house probably had—have made a real comeback. The single-panel stile-and-rail door, originally seen in homes of the Twenties and Thirties, is currently the most popular style of genuine wood panel door.  These have a single large recessed panel that adds elegance without being as fussy as the molded six-panel style.  Also, because these doors are real wood, they can be stained or oiled.

Stile-and-rail doors are available in many other panel configurations as well, right down to the elaborate vertical-panel formats of Victorian times.  Of course, genuine wood panel doors will cost you more than the molded variety—a basic single-panel door in fir will run around $150.

A flush door is the "correct" style for  Mid-Century
Modern homes, which didn't cotton to a lot of
fussy ornament.
If you’re remodeling a Mid Century Modern home, however, all of these panel doors will look very much out of place. For these modernist-era homes, a slab door (more properly called a flush door) will be more in character. Don’t fear, though; you needn’t use a cheap hollow-core one.  Solid-core flush doors are available in a range of high-quality wood or laminate veneers. They start at around $100.  You may not find these at discount home centers, though—check the better quality lumberyards.

And while we're on the subject, here’s a brief summary of door types:

A pocket door can be a boon
when space is at a premium.
•  Swinging doors are by far the most common type.  The direction in which the door opens is called the hand of the door.  For example, a door which opens away from you and is hinged on the right is termed a right-hand door.  Hinged on the left, it’s a left-hand door.  But if it opens toward you and is hinged on the right, it’s a “right hand  reverse bevel door ”, and hinged on the left it's called a. . .  let’s just forget it, okay?

Bifold doors are sometimes the best
choice for odd-width openings;
in closets, they allow much better access
than bypassing doors.
•  Pocket doors (often mistakenly called sliding doors) slide into a recess in the wall. They usually come as a kit with all the required pocket framing and hardware.  The door itself is just a regular door, however, so any normal style can be used, as long as it doesn't have moldings that protrude beyond the door face.

•  Bypassing doors (also often incorrectly called sliding doors) are the least expensive type for closets.  They consist of two or more panels that slide behind each other, or “bypass”.  They can be of molded wood products, plastic, wood veneer, or solid wood.  They’re also available mirrored, with wood or aluminum frames.

•  Bifold doors are twin pairs of hinged panels that fold to either side of the opening.  They’re available molded or in solid wood (and less commonly in aluminum).  They’re popular for closets, since they’re available with louvers or half-louvers.  Though they look great when properly installed, they’re susceptible to misalignment and tend to bind as they get older.  The louvered type are also a nightmare to paint.


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