Wooden doors are warm, inviting, comfortable, and above all else, they look beautiful and can lend your home a charm and cosiness that would simply be lost by a PVC substitute.
Choosing the external door that will act as the portal into and out of your home, however, is not as simple as just choosing a piece wood. Firstly, you will need to choose the type of external door. If you opt for solid wood it doesn’t end there. There are actually numerous different types of wood to consider, each with their own eccentricities, benefits and drawbacks, most of which we shall attempt to explore in this guide. Note that whilst many modern homeowners might choose to use composite doors, which do contain wood, but also contain numerous other materials to help improve the durability and weather-proofing qualities of the door, here we’ll be focusing specifically on traditional wooden doors. Classic, timeless and more affordable!
What is Hardwood?
Contrary to popular belief, not all hardwoods are literally hard, though, more often than not, hardwoods are harder than softwoods, though there are exceptions (balsa wood being a prime example). The term actually refers to the fact that the wood is derived from a tree that produces seeds (angiosperm trees), as these trees will often produce seeds with a protective covering (a fruit or a shell).
Whilst they are popularly used in construction and furniture making, hardwoods have also been used as fuel, to make tools, flooring and even to construct musical instruments. Hardwood is often, however, used more often in construction than softwood due to its sturdier and more durable nature.
Different Types of Hardwood
Possibly the most commonly used hardwood, at least in construction and particularly in furniture (doors especially), is oak, but there are many other hardwoods such as Elm, Beech, Mahogany, Walnut and Sycamore and many more!
Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood
Both hardwoods and softwoods can be used to make furniture, but when it comes to doors, hardwoods are far more common, and with good reason. Softwood is significantly less expensive, with softwoods like cedar and pine used quite regularly in cheap furniture, particularly in the US, where such trees are quite prevalent. The quality, however, is almost always inferior as softwood is less durable, whereas hardwood, if treated well, could potentially last a lifetime! That’s not to say that hardwood won’t warp and show damage over time, but it stains better, holds its shape for longer and simply looks better. It can also be finished with a variety of oils, waxes and/or paints, so you’re more likely to be able to achieve the specific look you’re going for.
Comfortably the most popular choice for an external hardwood door is solid oak, because it not only looks gorgeous with its natural rings perfectly suited for elegant staining, but it is very secure and oak doors will bring an element of class and sophistication to your home. Oak wood is, as the name suggests, taken from the oak tree.
Difference Between Solid Oak and Engineered Oak
Engineered oak refers to a piece of furniture (in this case a door) built from a cheaper material then given an oak veneer (outer shell). This means that engineered oak is often a lot cheaper, but still looks identical to a solid oak door on the outside.
Engineered oak is created through a factory process, slicing thin sheets of wood and then using a strong adhesive to glue them together.
Benefits of Engineered Oak
There are many benefits to engineered oak:
Because it’s made from a series of cheaper woods, engineered oak is significantly cheaper than solid oak.
Engineered wood will retain its fresh looks for a lot longer than solid wood.
Benefits of Solid Oak
Whilst solid oak will set you back a little more than other woods and a lot more than uPVC, exterior oak doors will, if treated with care, last a lifetime, so you’ll get your investment back and more besides.
Oak acts as a great natural insulator, meaning it can trap heat effectively, keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s density also makes it very energy efficient.
Oak complements pretty much anything you put it with, meaning it acts as a perfect gateway into your home as an exterior door. It’s also true that no two oak doors will be exactly the same!
The greater density of oak means it’s wonderful at noise reduction. So if you have particularly noisy neighbours, a solid oak door could be the answer to your prayers!
What is pine?
Possibly the most common softwood used in door construction, pine doors are usually cheaper than oak and many people actually prefer the way it looks. Indeed, pine furniture is, in many areas, actually more desirable than oak, even though it’s less durable.
Differences Between Oak and Pine
- Pine is a softwood and oak is a hardwood.
- Pine is generally more affordable than oak.
- Oak trees grow slowly, whereas pine trees grow a lot faster, which is one of the reasons why oak is more expensive.
- Oak is more commonly used in stronger furniture (doors, construction purposes), whereas pine is more commonly used for chairs, cupboards, tables etc).
- Oak is heavier and darker in hue than pine.
- Pine is lighter and more resistant to shock than oak.
Ultimately, the choice will depend on the security you require in your home and your more personal opinions regarding aesthetics. Either way, however, wood has been used in the construction on exterior doors for hundreds of years, so consider yourself in good company!