There's more to your home's doors than wood and hardware. To make a structure that stands up to the weather and everyday life, doors are made with special materials and reinforcements. The way your door is made could affect how well it works and how long you can wait before buying a replacement. Read more below to learn about the different types and doors and how you know which choice is right for your family.
Because wood has a tendency to warp and to expand and contract with the weather, a door cannot be made from a single slab of wood. Centuries of experience have resulted in the practice of making doors from interlocking pieces. On a panel door you can see the rails, stiles, and panels. But even flush doors have frames and fill-in pieces, all covered by a solid piece of veneer. Some materials perform better than others; check a door's construction to be sure it will meet your needs.
A stave-core (also called "core-block") exterior door looks like a standard wood-panel door, but it is made of several thin pieces of wood that are laminated together. The laminated core is then covered with a wood veneer. This method makes for an extremely stable door. However the veneer is liable to peel if the door is not kept protected with stain or paint.
Once considered an option only for commercial applications, steel exterior doors are increasingly popular for homes. Some have a steel face with a foam core for insulation. Others have a core made of foam wrapped in steel, with a wood veneer applied to the exterior. The result is a door with good insulating properties that is also very strong and burglar resistant.
Interior doors are protected from the weather so they can be made of less-substantial materials than exterior doors. Never use an interior door for an exterior entryway. No matter how well you protect the door with paint, it will warp and come apart in a few years.
Glass-paneled doors need to be well built, especially if they are exterior doors. Individual glass panes are often referred to as "lights" (or "lites"). Be sure to get gas-filled thermal glass panes for an exterior door, and make sure the glass is well sealed against the stiles and rails.