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How to choose the perfect interior doors

Keep practical considerations in mind when you choose your door, but the ambiance you want to create is also important. In the past, most doors were made of wood; now, however, you have a variety of materials to choose from.

These are the criteria you should consider when you buy interior doors for the bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and closets.

Solid or Hollow Door

There are two main categories of doors based on how they are constructed: solid-core doors and hollow-core doors. The "core" refers to the interior of the door's structure. The choice of core affects the door's weight, impact-resistance, fire-resistance and soundproofing qualities.

Solid core door

The inside of the door is solid. Doors can be made of solid wood, or the core can be filled with polystyrene, particleboard, or laminated wood.

Solid wood, solid-core doors confer elegance to any space where they are installed.

Jointed pine doors are a good alternative, but they must be painted rather than stained in order to mask the joints.

Benefits and Drawbacks
  • Distinguished looking
  • Excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties and fire-resistance
  • Impact-resistant
  • Heavy
  • Relatively expensive

Patterns and Finished
  • Can be painted, stained, or varnished depending on the wood species used
  • Various designs available: often four or six panels

Hollow core door

Hollow-core doors are more economical and as a result, more common. The exterior is finished with wood, veneer, MDF or metal.
The core, or centre of the door, is a honeycomb structure of wood material or lightweight plastic tubing. Some doors may have wood slats inside that serve to support the wood facing.

Benefits and Drawbacks
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Easy to install
  • Not very resistant to large impacts such as a hammer strike
  • Cannot be cut (or very little)
  • Possible to insert sound-barrier or fire-resistant materials
  • Features vary according to the manufacturer, brand and price of the product

Patterns and Finished
  • Certain doors have a natural wood veneer exterior which can be stained and varnished
  • Several wood species are available

Anatomy of an anterior door

Understanding a door's main components will help you understand how to install it.

1. Jamb, frame or casing
Frame secured to the wall, to which the door is installed with hinges.

2. Lintel
Horizontal structural beam that spans the door opening, used to mount the tracks required for certain doors.

3. Framing
Decorative moulding installed where the casing meets the wall.

4. Door-stop moulding (stop)
A door stop is the trim that prevents the door from closing past the door jamb, applied to the inside perimeter of the casing.

5. Hinge
Metal piece of movable hardware that serves to connect the door to the casing, allowing the door to swing freely. Until the mid-1990s, doors rested on only two hinges; the enhanced stability of three hinges helps to prevent sagging and warping and has become standard.

6. Mullion
A slender vertical piece of wood that forms a division between the glazed portions, or lites, of a door.

Other considerations

Door style and model are extremely important, but you also need to consider the size and swing of your new door.
  • Size
    Doors available today are manufactured according to standard measurements that have become the norm for new homes and apartments.
  • Height
    Standard door height is 80". This measurement may vary, such as for a door in an environment with higher than usual ceilings. Maintain ½" clearance between the floor and the bottom of the door.
  • Width
    Usual door width is 30". However, you will find doors that are between 24" and 36" wide to meet various needs. Doors to the basement or for the laundry room must be a minimum of 32" wide in order to facilitate moving large items, furniture and appliances. Doors 36" wide are increasingly appreciated because they can accommodate wheelchairs and other equipment used by persons with reduced mobility.

    If you choose a door opening larger than 36", we recommended you install two doors rather than one. By door width (such as a 30" door), be sure you understand that this is the width of the door itself. For the frame, allow for an extra 2", or 1" on either side.
  • Thickness
    Door thickness is dependent on the type of material used and the latch system. There are doors from a shade over 1" to 2" thick. For sliding doors, take into account that the two doors overlap when open.
  • Made to measure
    Made to measure doors, higher doors for example, can be ordered in the store. On the other hand, if the standard door available in the store is too high, it may be possible to cut a section off the base of the door in order to obtain the desired height. Be sure that the door you buy is one that can be cut.
  • Door swing
    The "swing" of a door refers the way and direction a door opens.

    This is not an issue for a replacement door, but in the case of a new installation, be sure to choose wisely. Nothing should interfere with the door when it is fully open; this could be a wall at an angle extending in front of the door, a counter or piece of furniture. Neither should the door impede day-to-day traffic, being able to move furniture or access to other rooms.

    However, you may actually prefer to conceal certain objects such as a hot water tank or toilet. When all aspects have been weighed and considered, determine whether you want the door to open into or out of the room, to the left or to the right.

    If none of these options are entirely satisfactory or practical, you should consider installing sliding, bifold or folding doors.

Accessories

There is a wide selection of hinges, handles and locks available to choose from. When you purchase a door, try to harmonize the hardware for your new door with other elements in the room.

You will find additional information in our article Door handles and locks.

Suggested products

See all interior doors