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An Architect’s Guide to Door Selection

March 13, 2020

We use doors every day, but we almost never think about them. Every kind of door has different challenges and opportunities. Doors rarely get the chance to be identified as design objects, but when designers harness their power, there’s enough for these building components to showcase their best. Below is an architect’s guide to door selection.


Solid wood, solid core and hollow core are some of the most common materials used for interior applications while exterior doors are often made of wood, steel, aluminum and fiberglass-composite.

Solid Wood

Solid wood doors are extremely sturdy and weather very well. While it is often the most expensive option, many buyers consider solid wood to be of good value due to its long-lasting composition. Solid wood interior doors also offer great insulation and act as a natural sound barrier.

Solid Core

Solid-core doors are made from plywood or molded composite exterior, with a filled-wood-fiber interior. Solid-core doors generally look and feel similar to that of a solid wood door, maintaining the same aesthetic quality while offering good insulation and sound barrier between rooms. However, they are more likely to expand and contract with rising heat and moisture levels, which may present an issue depending on where your project is located.

Hollow Core

Generally the least expensive option, hollow core doors are constructed from a wooden frame, plywood or hardwood surface and filled with rigid cardboard to maintain their shape. They are not as durable or fire-resistant as the solid doors. Not surprisingly, the acoustic performance is also weaker. A benefit of hollow core doors is that they do not warp with humidity.

Door Types

There are many different types of doors, which should be chosen based on material preference, operating type and safety considerations. Here some of the most common types, as well as whether they are typically used in interior or exterior applications. Some of the most common types include french, bi-folding, pivoting, revolving, sliding and automatic doors.


Always specify the height, width and desired thickness of your door. It is also important to note that by standards, doors must have a width-clearance of at least 32-inches.


Stains are available in a variety of colors and are most commonly used for solid wood doors since they emphasize the wood grains. Depending on the type of door material you have selected, ask your manufacturer for recommendations on the most appropriate stains.


Some door products come with a layer of primer already on, making them a perfect canvas for a paint job. Ask your manufacturer what type of paint they recommend, based on the door you have selected.


Door hardware parts, including door knobs, deadbolts, hinges and knockers, are offered in many finishes such as brass, bronze, pewter, chrome, nickel and black. For added depth, you can also consider one with a distressed, oil-rubbed, matte, satin, aged or antique finish.

Door Frames

A sometimes overlooked component is the door frame, which is a crucial factor for both safety measures and thermal performance. Common materials include vinyl, wood, fiberglass, metal and composite frames.

For more information regarding door materials and styles, consult Shandfield Doors. We offer workmanship that defines unique taste and aesthetic appeal that is yours alone.

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