What Type of External Oak Door Should You Buy?
Wood is a building material that has been used in homes for hundreds of years with good reason. It's sturdy, malleable, aesthetically pleasing and surprisingly comfortable underfoot. Though the homes of the past were decorated in dark, varnished wood, the modern fashion is for more natural, warm and light furniture that can lend any home a unique, 'vintage' aesthetic without succumbing to the drab, antiquated designs of yore. Oak is the perfect wood to achieve this look, and it is the perfect wood for your external doors, because it's as sturdy and reliable as it is aesthetically pleasing.
What Type of External Doors to Choose?
Why use Oak for your Front and Rear External Doors?
In many ways, any external door will have to perform two rather basic, important, but contradictory functions. It must be easy to open for homeowners, but also secure enough to keep unwanted individuals out. You could argue, of course, that it's the locking mechanism that achieves this duality, and that it has nothing to do with the door itself, but the fact is, any lock can be broken. Whilst, if you really value your safety, it can't be denied that a metal door and frame will provide you with the greatest level of security, it's not the most aesthetically pleasing material. Oak, meanwhile, is a tried and tested material when it comes to durability and security, and it a versatile material that can be used to create some stunning designs.
Engineered or Solid Oak
There is definitely a certain romanticism attached to solid oak, but composite, engineered oak is not only the more affordable option, but is the safer option too. Engineered oak has been designed specifically for construction and contains enhanced thermal properties that will make your home safer, warmer and more energy efficient. This makes it a perfect choice for an external door, particularly a front door, and the sturdy, engineered wood will be given an oak veneer so that most people won’t even be able to tell the difference. Solid oak is also more likely to warp than engineered wood, as it's a natural product that moves when moisture comes into contact with it. This means the wood could crack and split naturally due to changes in the humidity of your home from season to season.
Engineered wood, meanwhile, yields extra strength and is less likely to split, crack or warp than solid wood, and is generally more uniform in appearance, because it is shaved off a thick piece of wood, and as the knots are smaller, they are less likely to split the veneer when it's being shaved. That being said, however, solid oak can last a lifetime if it's maintained well and there is an unmistakable 'feel' to it that can be hard for composite doors to replicate. The decision should ultimately rest on your own tastes and needs.
One misconception with front doors built from oak, however, is that they all look the same; the same bland, four pane, cottage look. The reality, however, is that most modern oak doors, whether they are built from solid oak or composite oak, come in a broad range of styles.
Cottage – The cottage style is very much the traditional oak door, and generally refers to vertical strips of wood, sometimes with a viewing window and other times without. There is a definite 'solid' look to this style that draws many homeowners in, and if you opt for a door with no glass, the extra thermal performance could really prove to be a selling point. These doors can also be seen as perfect blank canvases for homeowners looking to implant their own personalities onto their doors. It should be noted, however, that these designs are often very heavy, so always ensure that your hinges and your door frame can handle the load before purchasing. These doors don't need to be built without glass, of course, as you could opt for a variety of glazing options, though any glazing will lose at least a small amount of thermal protection.
Stable – This style refers to the stables used to house horses and splits in the middle, with the top and bottom halves moving individually with their own hardware. This is a popular choice for homeowners with small children or animals who wish to keep their doors open (perhaps in the balmy summer months), but also want to keep their children or pets safe. It's also a style with a very distinct character that could spark some very interesting conversations or perhaps catalyse fond memories for those who spend their childhoods at the stables.
Glass – Oak doors with full length glazing are surprisingly common as external garden doors, and they can even be used as front doors. Modern, reinforced glass is surprisingly durable, and if you are choosing the door as a rear door you'll appreciate the view. If you're using it as a front door, meanwhile, you could opt to go for frosted glass to retain your privacy.
Traditional – The traditional front door look (2, 4 or 6 panes, 2 of which are glazed) is easily achievable with oak, but offers something you won't get with UPVC; soul.
Sidelights – Why not compliment your external oak doors with some elegant sidelights to really broaden your home's entrance and/or exit? Sidelights will enhance your front or rear oak door whilst perhaps allowing a little more light into your home. They can also be designed to match your oak door so that the whole entrance appears as one, consistent piece.
Ultimately the best oak front doors are the ones that look the part and act the part, and are also designed to be flexible when it comes to decoration. Thankfully, oak not only responds well to varnishes, with a good varnish always bringing out the natural character, but it is also a wonderful wood to paint on. Although if you are painting onto solid oak, you might notice that it still contains a few knots and bruises. To combat this you can paint the wood with a base coat of primer. There are numerous paints designed specifically for this purpose. You'll notice that these paints are generally thicker and harder to use than standard paints, however, so be sure to use a decent brush!
Oak doors are popular for various reasons. They have character, they are secure, and they look as solid and reliable as they actually are. They also present you with more opportunity for style and decoration than other materials. Wood can be easily painted and varnished so you can adapt your doors to suit your personal taste with minimal effort. If you are considering patio doors - they are also available in oak to finish the aesthetic of the home exterior.