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Solid Wood Interior Doors

Solid Wood Interior Doors

My wife never liked the imitation six panel hollow core doors I used when I built our house 15 years ago. At the time, it was all I could afford, as I was near the end of the project and money was running short - the money actually ran out. Recently, I started to do some interior remodeling and it was a perfect opportunity to change out the doors. I did some research and lucked out to find this medium sized Canadian company - Byron Wood Products - that had exactly what we wanted. The best part is that the price for the doors was extremely affordable.

Apples and Oranges

You have to be careful when shopping for wood doors. They may look the same, but there can be vast differences. For example, some doors say they are solid wood, but they are actually a solid wood core with a veneer skin. I am not saying this is bad, as it would indeed be a solid wood door. But if you want wood interior doors the way they were made 100 years ago, there are but a handful of companies that still make them. Fortunately, they are easy to contact and work with. Often companies like this just wish to deal with lumber companies and not the general public.

When you go shopping for doors, pay attention to how they are made. Be sure you are comparing similar doors.

Mixing Old and New

My interior doors combine new technology with old world craftsmanship and techniques. I am painting my doors. The raised panels in older doors usually gave painters headaches. The actual raised panel floats between the thick stiles and rails of the door. This is a necessary design feature. The solid wood raised panels expand and contract with changes in humidity. This would crack the paint where the panels connect to the stiles and rails. Byrcon solved this problem by using medium density fiberboard (MDF) for the raised panel. Since the door will be painted, you will not see the particle board. The MDF is very stable and does not shrink and swell like solid wood. If you want stain quality raised panels, Byrcon makes those, so don't despair!

Hardware

Buying period door hardware is a little bit more troublesome. You have to be on the lookout for low quality reproduction hardware. Believe me, it is out there! If you have ever had the pleasure of taking apart 50 or 75 year old well made mortise locksets, you will know what a quality lockset feels and looks like. I was able to locate a company in Texas that makes really good reproduction hardware. They are Nostalgic Warehouse. They have about 8 primary styles that range from early Victorian up through and including Art Deco. They even sell those classic crystal door handles.

Look for differences in the backplates of some companies. Some are thin pressed metal. The ones I got from Nostalgic are forged solid brass. The forged process allows for very crisp detail. I also especially like the mortise lockset that I bought. It is made in England and is a true piece of craftsmanship. The remarkable thing is that the retail price for this lockset is not hundreds of dollars, it was less than $100! Yes, that may seem like a lot of money compared with a $15 brass plated tubular lockset from a home center, but the difference is night and day.

Hinges Are Important

Go the extra mile and use period hinges. You can get fancy design ones, but I went with precision solid brass smooth hinges from Stanley - the same company that makes all of those great tape measures and hand tools. Stanley offers kits to dress up then hinges. You can get the old fashioned ball tips for the hinges or you can get the Victorian chimney caps. These little pieces make a huge difference. As for mortising the hinges, the folks at Byrcon did it for me with no questions asked. My hinges fit perfectly when I got the doors!

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