Interior Door Buying Guide
By Valerie A.
Date Updated: February 17, 2020
Whether you’re replacing worn or broken doors, remodeling or wanting to enhance the inside of your home, a new interior door offers a refreshing change. Let our guide help you choose the right interior door to complement your décor.
Table of Contents
Things to Know Before You Buy
Before purchasing a new interior door, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
A pre-hung door, which includes a frame-mounted door and hinges, is ready to install and use with a prepared doorway.
A slab door is basic; it’s just the door and doesn’t include a frame, hinges or handle set. Slab doors come unfinished (meaning they require painting or staining) or finished and ready to hang.
Door openings and dimensions are especially important when installing or replacing an interior door. When replacing an existing door with a pre-hung door, select a door that has the same dimensions as the existing one.
Standard widths for interior doors are 24, 28, 30, 32 and 36 inches, while the height must be a minimum of 80 inches. For a slab door, measure the width, height and thickness of the door. For a pre-hung door, measure the width and height of the slab, the rough opening (space between the studs with no door installed), and the thickness of the jamb.
Handing, or door swing, is important for placement and door hardware. To determine handing, stand on the outside of the door (the side from where you would enter, such as in the hallway facing the bedroom). If the hinges are on the left side of the door, you have a left-handed door. If the hinges are on the right side of the door, it’s a right-handed door.
For tips on installing or replacing an interior door, visit Install or Replace Interior Doors.
Interior doors are available in a variety of styles, giving you the option of enhancing every room in your home.
Barn doors are a fresh way to separate rooms, while providing an artisan flair to any space. Some barn doors glide along an upper rail, and others have a bottom track to prevent the door from swinging. Barn doors range from rustic to polished and come prefinished or unfinished in a variety of styles.
We also offer a kit to convert most doors into a barn door.
Need help? Watch our video: How to Size and Hang a Sliding Door.
Barn door hardware has a variety of finishes and accessories. Both top- and side-mount hardware are available. Mounting hardware kits are all-in-one for a single door application.
A pocket door is a sliding door that tucks into the wall and hides from view when opened. It’s a great door when space is at a premium, and there’s no room for the swing arc of a door. Depending on the entry width, single or double doors can be used.
Accordion doors fold in sections along a track with wheels when opened. They work well as room dividers, closet doors and utility room doors.
French doors have multiple lites (panes of glass) throughout the length of the door that offer minimal privacy, while allowing light to filter in from adjoining rooms. They’re typically situated in a side-by-side pair, with each door opening away from the other. They’re a classic style and bring a touch of elegance to any space.
Bifold doors are hinged with symmetrical door panels that fold outward and to the side as a pair when opened. Many bifold doors are louvered, allowing for better air circulation than traditional doors. Bifold doors don’t swing and take up less space than a hinged door, making them a great choice for closets, laundry rooms, utility rooms or room dividers.
Bypass doors have two or more sections that glide on a parallel track in either direction. They’re designed to slide past one another and are useful as closet doors.
Saloon/café doors define your space in a whimsical way without closing off the area. These are available in an array of design styles and sizes, including full-length, and include hardware for installation.
The finish you select on your new door depends on the time and money you’re willing to put into the process.
Primed doors are prepped with a coating that seals the wood and makes it easier for the stain or paint to adhere.
A stained door enhances the natural wood pattern and creates an even color tone, allowing the natural wood to shine through. Stains come in a variety of shades from lights, such as honey maple or white oak, to darks, like black or espresso.
A prefinished door is factory-finished and ready for installation. It’s been stained or painted with precut door knob holes and hinge screw holes. All you need to do is install it.
Unfinished doors are a blank slate and require more work than prefinished doors. They’re presanded but not stained or painted. Interior doors are available in a variety of styles, giving you the option of enhancing every room in your home.
Molded composite is an affordable, manufactured product made with a wood-based compound. It’s engineered to have the look and feel of real wood. Maintenance on composite doors is painless; they won’t fade over time and never need painting.
Wood is available in different species with various looks and qualities.
- Hardwood refers to trees that are flowering plants (as opposed to softwood, which are cone-bearing trees) and doesn’t refer to the tree’s hardness.
- Knotty alder is a versatile, small-knotted, slightly soft hardwood species with a rich tone and rustic feel. Its uniform texture and straight grain look good when stained and lacquered.
- Knotty pine is a lightweight wood with a fine texture, straight grain and small, tight knots. When painted, the knots will bleed through over time, so be sure to seal the knots before painting.
- Lauan is a tropical species of wood that comes from Southeast Asia and is used to make plywood.
- Oak, the most widely used hardwood, is strong and durable. It’s light-colored with prominent rings.
- Pine is a straight-grained softwood that comes in over 100 species. It’s lightweight and resists swelling and shrinking.
Engineered wood materials, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and hardboard, are long-lasting and durable.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) doors are durable, as well as water- and fire-resistant. They come in a variety of colors to enhance any décor.
Hollow core doors are lightweight, inexpensive, easy to install and a popular choice for many homeowners. Their versatility makes them ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms and closets; however, they don’t offer high-quality sound blocking and have little fire resistance.
Cutting hollow core doors can be tricky because they aren’t truly hollow. Inside is a foam or cardboard core. Measure the amount to trim, align and use a utility knife to score with a straight edge. Clamp a straight edge cutting guide to the door, and cover the score with masking tape all the way around the door to help prevent chipping. Cut with a power saw.
Solid core doors are sturdier, heavier and offer better soundproofing than hollow core. They’re better insulated, offer the look, feel and durability of solid wood without the cost and provide good fire resistance.
When trimming a hollow core door, cut at the bottom and no more than 1-1/2 inches.
Flush or Panel
Interior doors are classified as either flush or panel and both have their advantages.
Wood-veneered flush doors feature plain, flat facings on either side of the door. They’re solid or hollow core and create clean, elegant lines to complement the décor.
Panel doors, a popular and decorative choice, feature stiles (vertical frame elements) and rails (horizontal frame elements) with flat panels placed between them. Six-panel doors are classic, but two- and three-panel doors are also available.
Split jambs come in two lengthwise pieces with casings attached. They make it easy to install a door, even when the wall thickness isn’t standard.
Flat jambs consist of a standard one-piece jamb.
When it comes to door hardware, you have many choices, from the finish to hinges to knobs to locks and more. If your door doesn’t require latching and uses a push/pull feature, decorative nonturning dummy knobs and handles are an ideal choice. For doors that don’t require locking functionality, such as closet, pantry or hallway doors, passage door knobs are easy to install and come in an array of finishes and designs.