Your Guide to Door Types and Styles
At their core, doors serve one vital functional—but that doesn't mean they can't be stylish. After all, the right door can make or break a space. We've broken down styles and types of doors into two categories: interior and exterior. Our tips will help you pick the perfect door for every threshold in your home; whether it's a hidden door to the basement or your home's main entrance.
The hinged single door is the most common interior door type. The room design must allow space for hinged doors to swing. Interior doors typically are lightweight and have two hinges; exterior doors are heavy and often use three hinges. Interior doors are usually 1-3/8 inches thick, and exterior doors are commonly 1-3/4 inches thick.
A panel door is a classic style. It usually has three or four horizontal rails and three vertical stiles. The spaces between them are filled with thinner panels. Decorative molding (or some representation of it) called "sticking" surrounds each panel. The result is a richly textured look that is at home in both traditional and modern settings.
A flush door is a simple flat slab. It is usually the least expensive choice. If the surface is a hardwood veneer (usually birch or oak), a flush door can be stained, but other materials usually look best painted. Flush doors blend well with contemporary settings, but may look out of place in a traditional home. Interior flush doors are often hollow core, while exterior flush doors have a solid core and may have a metal or fiberglass face rather than wood veneer.
A pair of French doors adds a charming touch as well as an extra-wide doorway opening. These doors are almost always traditional in design. Often they have glass panels. They are most commonly used as exterior patio doors, but interior French doors can make a stunning passageway between rooms.
Many older homes have interior pocket doors, which slide into the wall when fully opened. They allow you to completely open the doorway without taking up any floor space. Pocket doors are making a comeback; many styles are available, single and double. A pocket door requires wall space that cannot have electrical or plumbing lines running through it.
For a closet that is 6 feet wide or wider, a pair of bifold doors is the most popular choice. Each door takes up about half the swinging space of a hinged door. Bifolds can be flush, paneled, or louvered.
Somewhat less common are bypass doors. These operate much like sliding patio doors but are far lighter in weight. They are generally flush doors.
Entry doors can be made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. They range from straightforward panel doors to windowed doors (the windows are sometimes referred to as "lights"), with attractive muntins or removable grills. Increasingly you can find decorative carved-wood doors. These often have rails and stiles with a carved section in the middle. They are expensive but make a memorable impression.
Even the most tightly sealed entry door can benefit from the addition of a storm door. These are usually made of metal or vinyl, but wood models are also available. A security storm door can be locked to keep out intruders and may be heavier than a standard door. Self-storing storm doors have a window and screen. Inexpensive storm doors are often plain in design and can detract from the appearance of an entry door. You can pay more for a storm door that makes a design statement of its own, but perhaps the best choice is a storm door that unobtrusively frames your entry door.
Patio sliding doors are typically made of large panes of glass encased in wood, vinyl, or metal frames. They are the ideal choice when you want to maximize your view of the yard. Compared with French doors they take up no floor space when open. A possible disadvantage is that they only open half as wide as the doorway.