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Interior Door Buying Guide

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Interior Door Buying Guide

Your interior doors are one of the most functional parts of your home. As such, they see a lot of wear and tear. Whether you’re choosing doors for a new construction or replacing your existing ones, it’s important to find the right options. Make sure you cover these considerations when you’re going through the selection process.

Solid or Hollow?

Interior doors fall into two basic categories: solid and hollow. Solid wood doors are just as the name suggests — solid through and through. Hollow doors have an empty core supported only by honeycomb cardboard. Your choice here will impact the door’s:

  • Weight: Solid wood doors are heavier and therefore more challenging to install.
  • Soundproofing capabilities: You can typically hear right through a hollow door. A solid door, on the other hand, will dampen sound significantly, making it ideal for a basement music studio or home theater room where you want to contain the noise.
  • Impact-resistance: A solid wood door is far more durable than its hollow counterpart. A good kick can rip through the veneer or fiberboard that comprises the surface of a hollow door.
  • Insulation: The solid construction of a wood door provides more insulation, which is handy if you have a zoned heating and cooling system or use space heaters, window air conditioners, or other units that are confined to one space.
  • Design options: Both hollow core and solid wood doors can generally be painted, stained, and varnished, depending on the wood species.
  • Value: You’ll get more value out of a solid wood door. They look and feel more substantial and are a greater draw for homebuyers.
  • Price: The added value of a solid wood door comes at a premium. You can often save as much as 50 percent by opting for a hollow core counterpart.

Consider all these factors carefully to determine which door is best for your needs. There’s no one right answer, and there are enough options in both categories to suit any shopper.

Size and Measurement Accuracy

Measuring Door

It’s crucial that you measure carefully in preparation for your new door. This is particularly important in older homes, where your doorways may not fit standard sizes. In newer buildings, you’ll find that the standard height is 80 inches with a width between 24 and 36 inches. If you’re replacing an older door, you need to measure the height, width, and depth to ensure that your replacement is a good fit.

When you’re constructing a new home, you should keep in mind that these measurements apply only to the door itself. Trim will take up additional space on either side of the door. If you’re constructing a new home, you should also consider the direction that you want the door to swing. Make sure you have enough clearance for the door to open fully.

Do You Need Extra Accessories?

Some doors come with all the accessories included, while others are ready for your custom touch. If you’re replacing an existing door, you may have the option of moving accessories like doorknobs from the older door to the new one if you’d like. You generally want to choose doorknobs that coordinate with the rest of the hardware used throughout the house. If you’re installing closet doors, you may have a little more room for customization, and you might consider decorative knobs and handles to complement the décor in the room.

Styles, Materials, and Finishes

The traditional style for an interior door is a panel door. These swing outward and feature a simple pattern of squares or rectangles. However, this isn’t your only option for an interior door. Other choices you might consider include:

  • Pocket doors: These slide into the wall, offering a sleek design that’s ideal for small spaces.
  • Sliding doors: Sliding doors, frequently used for closets, eliminate the issue of finding enough room for a panel to swing, as they slide in front of or behind one another.
  • Folding doors: Typically featuring a simple bi-fold, these doors fold in on themselves, halving the necessary swing. These are also popular for closets.
  • French doors: This dramatic style features two doors rather than one. The doors feature one or more glass panes.
  • Dutch doors: Popular for kitchens, Dutch doors have an upper half and lower half, each of which can swing independently of the other. The upper half typically features glass panes.

Sound Rating

When you’re shopping for doors, you’ll see an STC (sound transmission class) rating. This tells you how much sound loss you’ll experience through the door. A rating over 60 is considered soundproof. Around 40, you’ll hear some sound through the door but enjoy a noticeable dampening effect. If the door is rated 25 or lower, you’ll be able to hear most things through it, including regular speech.

Are You Planning on Painting It?

If you’re planning to paint your new door, you should definitely do so before you hang it. Existing doors should be taken down before painting. Consider the surface of the door before choosing your paint. Water-based paints are often the more popular option because they have fewer fumes, dry faster, and are easier to clean up. Soap and water will take care of spills.

Oil-based paint has some lingering smells you’ll need to deal with and is best used outdoors or in an environment like a garage. It can take up to 24 hours for oil-based paints to dry. If you happen to spill, you’ll need acetone, turpentine, or mineral spirits to take care of the mess. However, there are some cases when you really need an oil-based option. Use an oil-based paint for:

  • Stained surfaces.
  • Woods that drip tannin or sap, such as cedar, redwood, or cypress.

If you know ahead of time that you plan to paint your door, you can select the door material with this in mind, and choose a product that’s compatible with your preferred paint.

The right door will fit your home, your needs, and your budget. Whether you want an affordable replacement for a damaged door, or you’re looking for upscale options for an elegant home, you can find just what you’re after with a little smart shopping.

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