Doors – Hard or Soft wood?

Doors are one of the most important elements to a house. The front door sets the scene and creates a first impression. Internal doors also have a strong influence on the character and feel of the inside.

So how to go about choosing the right material.

Many houses really benefit from having a solid but welcoming front door. Wood certainly gives off a warm and friendly impression, whereas many a uPVC door looks out of place. The plain colours of uPVC do not have the texture and feel of wood, although many manufacturers try to get this by careful moulding.

So when looking at doors should one plump for a softwood or a hardwood? To a certain extent this is not really important as far as looks are concerned as softwood can easily be stained to look more like hard wood, however there is a difference in strength. Hard woods are generally stronger than soft woods (not always the case) and also contain natural oils that help to preserve them against rain. Hard woods are also more stable (less expansion and contraction in different weathers). They are also better at taking fixings like screws as their closer knit structure provides a better key.

So when looking for a main entrance door a hard wood door is a better option as it will take the lions share of the weather and usage. However, it is important to know a couple of other things.

Hard wood can have a mind of its own. As moisture content varies in the wood a hard wood can bend and warp and there is little that can stop this. This can be combated though by using laminated doors. Here a number of thinner pieces of timber are glued together so that the grains work against each other to create a door that is dimensionally stable.

Once you have a door that is stable you need to ensure that it fits well into the frame. This is difficult if you are buying a door and frame separately, or trying to fit a new door into an existing frame. We would recommend replacing both so that you get a really good factory finished airtight seal and also all the locks, hinges and furniture working together.

Hard wood still needs to be protected to get the maximum lifespan out of the door. Use natural wood oils to preserve and protect the door, especially if it gets a lot of the weather.

Internal doors are a little easier as mostly they are not generally required to be draughtproof, insulating or weatherproof. They are also thinner and hence lighter, so less pressure on fixings etc means that soft wood is absolutely fine for interior fitting. So we would recommend using FSC (or PEFC) softwood for internal doors.