Intro to Doors
The humble door – from simple planks nailed together to 20 foot high brass monstrosity leading to the King’s chamber, doors rarely get the attention that they deserve. Nonetheless, the door is more than the only smart way in and out of your house; it’s also your protection from intruders, the weather, and a bad first impression. In this article, we will explore doors, the different styles and some of the features that can be in your door.
Start here with an article on French doors to get a sense of some possibilities.
Door Jargon: Understanding Some of Words Associated with Doors
Here is a list of some of the words and ideas that are associated with doors and the frames that they are set in:
- Battens – Battens are the vertical boards that a simple plank door is made from. They are made with tongue and groove to bind them together to create very tight bonds.
- Ledge – Ledges are the horizontal boards that hold the battens together.
- Braces – A brace is the diagonal boards that are used to strengthen the door.
- Frame – There are a few different type of frames. One is the vertical board on the door itself on the sides. The other is the actual frame that the door is set in.
- Panel – Many of us are familiar with panel doors. These are the doors that have an inset board, usually beveled in a frame. Each piece of the door has its own name, but unless you are making your own doors, they aren’t too relevant to the home owner.
- Glazed doors – Ranging from a simple glass panel in a door to a completely glass door framed in either glass or wood.
- Flush doors – These are doors that are flat and typically covered with plywood or veneer. Most often, these are interior doors and aren’t very strong. If the door has a solid core, it will have wood panels inside the door.
- Louvered doors – Doors that look similar to shutters, these are door that are often seen on closets. Air is able to flow through the door, keeping the room aerated and dry.
- Wire gauge – Wire gauged doors are most often used to protect other doors or in exterior applications. Made from metal wire, these doors are strong and designed for function above form.
- Sliding – Sliding doors are very often used on glazed doors and as exit doors on decks and pool areas.
Parts of the Door Frame
While it might seem like overkill, there are a large number of names for the frames that a door is contained in. It’s important to understand these words. When speaking with a contractor or someone at a hardware store, these are the words that you will here. The jambs are the vertical frame of the door. The head is the part of the frame on the top of the door. The sill or threshold is the board that is on the floor.
The pieces are set into wall and is often adjusted by using spacers.
Choosing the Right Door for Your Needs
With the wide variety of styles and materials that you can get doors in, it can seem overwhelming to choose. Here are some things to consider:
- Interior or Exterior – Interior doors don’t need to be heavy. They can be simple hollow doors. In areas where high security is needed, you can even choose doors that are cement filled and steel casing. Heavy wooden doors also provide a great deal of security. Doors with glass provide security by being loud when they break and often being made from safety glass that doesn’t shatter.
- Style or security – In areas where extremely high home security is a concern, it can bring a lot of peace of mind to a family to have a door that is think and made from steel or hardwood. In other places, light and bright French doors can add an amazing amount of style.
Doors are made from a wide variety of materials. Here is a partial list:
Wood – This is, of course, the oldest material in the world that doors have been made from. It is a versatile, easy to work with and relatively abundant everywhere. Wood can suffer deterioration when used as an exterior door. To avoid this, it’s important to make sure that the door is properly sealed with paint or varnish.
Fiberglass – Extremely durable and still light, fiberglass is an ideal material for doors. It can be made to look just like a wooden door, but it is not susceptible to the damages of weather.
Steel – Extremely durable and tough, steel is great for high security situations. While it doesn’t need it as often, it’s important to keep steel doors painted or they will rust. Some doors are filled with cement to increase security and sound-proofing.
MDF – Medium density fiber, often called pressboard, is made by gluing wood shaving together. It can be treated to resist rotting and insects. Not typically a high quality product, the styles and quality have been increasing in the past few years.
Considerations for Hiring a Door Contractor
Hanging a door, the phrase used for installing a door in a home, is not a simple process. Making sure that a door is hung squarely, that it is set in straight, and that the frame is stronger than the door to be able maintain security.
Here are some of the factors that one needs to consider:
- While most contractors have hung doors, it is important to ask if they have experience with doors and most particularly with the type of doors that you are choosing. Elaborate multi-pane French doors can require a lot of experience.
- All contractors must have state or provincial licenses. Ask your potential contractor for their license number. You should then call the state or provincial authorities to make sure that the license is valid and in effect.
- Insurance is a must for your contractor. They have to have liability insurance at the minimum. Ask your contractor for their insurance plan number and their agent’s contact info. Call the insurance agent to make sure that the policy is all paid up and in full effect.
- If your contractor is going to have employees in your home working, you are within your rights to ask for their workers’ compensation insurance. If someone gets hurt on your property and the contractor doesn’t have worker’s compensation insurance. Again follow up with the insurance agent to make sure that they have their insurance in place.
- Look or online reviews, etc. that can give you a sense of how the contractor works with clients and customers. Remember that the most pleased and displeased people are the ones who write reviews. Read the reviews for trends in positive and negative activities.
Many doors come pre-hung. This means that the door is already placed in a frame with the header, sill, and jambs. The advantage to pre-hung doors is that the frame is easier to square than an independent frame.
Using pre-hung doors can save time and helps to make sure that the door will hang more perfectly inside of the frame.
One of the features that can be addressed is fire ratings. This refers to how long a door can withstand fire. A doors design is rated by blocks of time, 20, 45, 60 and 90 minutes. This is not a guarantee, but it provides a level of security and peace of mind for some rooms in a home.
In some cases, local ordinances and building codes require certain fire ratings for doors. It’s worth checking with local authorities to see what those lows might be.
STC or sound transmission class is a measure of how easily sound can travel through a door. In many cases, homeowners don’t care, but for a garage or as a door over a furnace room, keeping the sound down can be a big help. The STC rating is a simple subtraction process. If a door has an STC rating of 30, all sounds will be reduced by 30 decibels. The higher the rating the quieter the door.
STC rated doors can be important especially for businesses and for those who have disorders that make them susceptible to sounds. For those who are prone to migraines, a door that eliminates most sounds can be a wonderful relief from pain.
Other Door Styles
Dutch Doors – Dutch doors are doors that are split horizontally. It allows the bottom or the top of the door to be open independently. These can often be found in older homes, allowing a free flow of air into the home.
Shoji Doors – Shoji doors area Japanese-style door that involves a light wooden frame and translucent fabric of it. This matches the style of walls that many Japanese homes have as a traditional design. Most often these are sliding doors and used as interior doors.