A wood door adds a bold and timeless statement to your home’s entryway. The warmth of wood offers historic charm -- whether you plan to sell the home and want to spruce up its curb appeal or you just want to make a good first impression with visitors. Knowing the benefits of solid wood doors or wood doors with glass can help you make the decision that best suits your home and lifestyle.
Wood doors -- with or without glass -- come in a variety of wood species, architectural styles and shapes. Solid woods include: Douglas fir, alder, cherry, oak, walnut, maple, mahogany and paint grade. Paint grade wood is a flat-surfaced wood -- typically poplar or a plywood -- that is free of detailed wood grain patterns and large knots, making it a slicker, paintable surface. Paint grade wood offers the best results for flawless, smoothly painted doors. Mahogany or tropical hardwood may cost more, but they have a greater resistance to weathering and sunlight and are harder and denser than other species because of the natural oils in the woods. This makes for a more durable door that can last up to twice as long as other woods when maintained.
Solid Wood Doors
Natural wood adds warmth and beauty to the entryway of any home. You can select from pre-hung doors that are easier to install, as well as unfinished or finished wood doors. Wood doors cost more than fiberglass and steel and are more subject to rot and weathering if they’re not regularly maintained. But fiberglass and steel doors lack the richness, warmth and natural beauty wood affords, which is why it is still the go-to choice for homeowners who want a luxury look that adds curb appeal to their homes. Unless you’re an experienced painter, buying a pre-finished door offers a quality and tough topcoat that requires little maintenance. Solid wood doors include stiles, the vertical pieces, and rails, the horizontal ones made of solid wood unless the door is carved out of a single piece of wood. The benefits of well-made wood doors include safety, security and design appeal over fiberglass or steel doors because of their weight, strength and beauty.
A wood door with glass is not as energy-efficient as a solid wood door unless the glass is dual-paned, but it can be more eye-catching than a solid wood door. Be prepared to spend more on a door with glass in it; the added glass can sometimes double the cost, depending on how much glass the door has. You can choose from stained, beveled, clear or matte glass, depending on the look you’re after. Consider your security needs and glass placement when you’re choosing a wood door with glass. A wood door with metal scrollwork sandwiched between the panes or over the glass can eliminate any security issues.
Your Home, Your Style
Natural wood doors add richness to your home as long as you choose a style that’s consistent with your home’s overall architecture. Don’t install a rustic door meant for a ranch house or log cabin on a contemporary home. You can install doors with sidelites, which are slim panels inset beside the door. If you don’t like the idea of glass in your door but you enjoy the look of a wider door, add wood sidelites inset with black wrought-iron scrollwork or calvos -- wood carvings -- to one side or each side of the door. These sidelites can also contain stained glass, wrought iron over glass, or matte glass for muted light inside the home. In the end, select a wood door -- with or without glass -- that fits your home’s architectural style and security needs.
Angie’s List: Pros and Cons of Front Door Options
Consumer Reports: Entry Door Buying Guide