How to Choose Interior Doors

Hall doors
Choosing an interior door may seem like a matter of just choosing a style, but in reality there is much more to consider. Doors not only separate rooms — they also provide noise control and privacy.

Before looking at door options, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Am I painting or staining the door? Your answer will determine the appropriate material for your door.
  2. How much do I want to pay per door? Within the two categories of paint-grade and stain-grade, there are several price points to consider.

Paint-grade Doors

For paint-grade applications, there are two main types of doors to consider: molded doors and MDF doors.

Molded doors are very popular, economical and come in a variety of styles. Molded doors are made of wood by-products and are pressed together in forms to create the particular door style. Molded doors come in two quality levels: hollow core and solid core. As the names suggest, the hollow core door is a lighter weight door with less sound control than the solid core door. Hollow core doors are therefore less expensive and are often used for closets where noise control is not an issue. Solid core doors offer more privacy through their superior sound-deadening properties and provide a more solid feel to the door. Solid core doors are recommended for use on all bathroom and bedroom applications.

MDF doors are made from an engineered wood product called medium density fiberboard and are used in paint-grade applications. These doors are considered a higher quality than molded doors and can be produced in pieces for true stile and rail construction, either as an entire MDF door or in concert with wood. This allows the profile of the door to be crisper than a molded door and therefore look more like a wood door when painted. MDF doors are all heavier doors and provide high levels of privacy and noise control.

Stain-grade Doors

Wood doors

Typically the most expensive choice, but the only option to consider when not painting a door. What the industry calls a wood door is not always a solid species wood door. In fact, wood doors are most often made up of an engineered wood core with solid wood veneers. This keeps the cost of the doors down. There are several manufacturers of wood doors that range in construction and price from around the price of an MDF door to over $2,000 per door for true solid species wood doors. If you want a cherry door, ask what options are available in the style you choose; you might be surprised at the wide variety of construction methods and price points available to you.

Engineered Wood Doors

  • Bladder-pressed with veneers – this option offers an exotic veneer (cherry, mahogany, etc.) over a lower cost substrate making them a cost-effective alternative.
  • Wood core with veneers – this option provides a wood core as the substrate with exotic veneers. The wood core is most often poplar or pine.

Non -engineered

  • Solid species wood doors – these are “solid” wood doors made out of pieces of solid species wood. No veneers are used. Because of the cost of these doors, they are rarely used in residential home construction.