If you wander down the aisles of any home center or door shop, you’ll probably be surprised at how many different doors are available. Add to that the thousands of possible door styles, sizes and jamb combinations you find in the catalogs, and you quickly discover that there is an overwhelming number of choices.
If you’re in the market for new or replacement doors for your home, here’s a brief overview of some of the basics to help with your shopping.
1. Hollow Core: A hollow-core door has two flat or formed panels on the outside faces, which are attached to a wooden frame around the door’s perimeter. Inside the door, between the perimeter frame pieces, are pieces of wood, cardboard or other material placed on edge to help stiffen the panels. Hollow-core doors are used for interiors only, and are less expensive than solid-core doors.
2. Solid Core: A solid-core door does not have any hollow voids inside it, and may be either flush or panel as described below. Solid-core doors are appropriate for both interior and exterior use, and help provide both security and sound-deadening qualities.
3. Flush Door: A flush door is one with flat sheets of various materials on the two outside faces, secured to an inner frame of wood or other material. Flush doors may be either hollow-core or solid-core, and the sheets may be paint-grade hardboard, veneer or steel, stain-grade hardwood or softwood, or fiberglass.
4. Panel Door: A true panel door is comprised of a framework of individual interlocking strips of wood, with solid wood panels inset into the framework. Because all the panels are solid with no voids, panel doors are considered solid-core doors. Panel doors are designated by how many panels they have, such as 4-panel, 6-panel, etc.
5. Simulated Panel Door: This is a door with two face panels of hardboard, fiberglass, steel or other material that have been formed under high pressure to create the appearance of a true panel door. Simulated panel doors may be hollow-core or solid-core, and are also designated by the number of panels they contain.
6. Louvered and Half-Louvered Door: A louvered door has a series of angled wooden slats set into a framework, and is commonly used inside where both ventilation and privacy are desired, as in a closet. In temperate climates, they are sometimes used as exterior doors as well. A half-louver door has a flush or inset panel on the lower half and louvers on the upper half, and may be hollow- or solid-core.
7. Swing: Doors with hinges are specified by which way they swing. The easiest way to remember this is to look at the door as it opens away from you. If the hinges are on the left, it’s a left-hand door. If the hinges are on the right, it’s a right-hand door.
8. Bi-Fold Doors: Bi-fold doors are made up of two or more narrower door units that are hinged to one another. The units closest to the jambs are attached to upper and lower pivots, and the units closest to the center of the doorway have a single upper roller that fits into an overhead track. The door units can be set up to open completely to one side of the opening, or to both sides for larger openings. When completely opened, bi-fold doors provide access to three-fourths or more of the entire door opening, which makes them a popular use for interior closets and storage areas. Virtually any type of door in any material, solid-core or hollow-core, can be used for bi-fold doors, and some types also have mirrored faces.
9. Bypass Doors: Bypass doors have rollers on the top, and are suspended from an overhead track that is attached to the upper door jamb. Bypass doors slide horizontally, with one passing to the inside or the outside of the other. Bypass doors are common for interior closets, and are available in different configurations and materials, included mirrored. Depending on the size of the opening, bypass doors may be made up of two, three or even four panels, and when open will provide access to one-half, two-thirds or three-fourths of the door opening, respectively.
10. Jambs: The three pieces of wood or other material that make up the finished framework of a door opening. The two long, vertical pieces are called jamb legs, and the shorter horizontal piece is the head jamb. In a doorway with a swinging door, the door is hinged to one jamb leg. With bi-fold and bypass doors, the track is mounted to the underside of the head jamb.
11. Casing: The trim that surrounds the doorway, and covers the gap between the back of the door jambs and the rough framing.
12. Prehung Door: A complete door and jamb unit, with the door already hinged to the jamb and ready for installation.
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