Interior DoorBy Greg Stopher  |  Last month I touched on exterior doors, their types, their qualities, and what to look for when buying an exterior entry door. Hopefully, with the weather changing all exterior doors are sealed tight, well insulated, and ready to take on Old Man Winter. This month, now that we are tucked comfortably into our warm homes, I would like to touch briefly on garage doors and then take a look to our homes interior and discuss interior doors including the types of doors available as well as sound transmittance through these doors.Garage Doors
Garage doors make up a large portion of what someone sees when looking at the front of a home with an attached garage, so why not make it attractive and functional? Garage doors come in a wide variety of materials and each material has its advantages.
Steel garage doors are the most common and offer the widest variety of styles and price ranges. Steel doors can range in price from the hundreds to thousands of dollars. The panels can come in designs and glass styles to fit the architectural style of any home. Steel garage doors can be ordered in a variety of colors or can be painted to match the color scheme of a home. They can be hollow core or foam core with high insulation values that can be equal to the R-Value of a typical wall in a home. A higher insulated garage door would mean the garage would stay more comfortable in the winter months as long as there is a heat source in the garage. Without a heat source, it can be as cold inside the garage as outside and hold the cold in for longer. Steel garage doors are very durable although they can be dented. Also, damaged areas can be susceptible to rust.

Vinyl garage doors are another popular option. Vinyl doors have most of the same qualities as steel doors and the price is usually on the lower end of the scale but they are not as easy to find. Vinyl doors have good sound absorption and can help quiet a busy street. They also come in a variety of color options although they cannot be painted. A benefit of vinyl is that the color is through the door so scratches and dents will not show as easily.

Fiberglass garage doors are another option. Fiberglass doors sometimes have a lower R-value because of the way they are manufactured. Colors are limited, but fiberglass can be painted to match existing doors and even stained to match a wood grain. Fiberglass garage doors are very durable and are on the higher price end for garage doors and are available in a wide variety of styles.

Wood garage doors have the highest degree of craftsmanship and quality which usually results in a premium cost. The styles are limitless and can be painted or stained to any color. Wood doors are very durable and with the new finishes and new ways exterior wood doors are manufactured, they can hold up to the weather as well as any exterior door.

Lastly and probably the most expensive garage doors are aluminum. Aluminum garage doors are more for the modern house. While other garage doors have an option for glass in the top panel, aluminum doors can have glass from bottom to top, in every panel. They come in a clear anodized finish, bronze anodized finish, or powder coating of any color option resulting in a finish that is very durable.

Interior Doors
Taking a full swing to the interior of the home, interior residential doors can come in an even wider variety. So many varieties, in fact, the options are endless. I won’t focus on the styles; I have endless catalogs for that, so I’ll touch on some types, materials, and what sound ratings mean.

Swing doors are your most common door found in a home. The most confusing thing about swing doors is purchasing a door with the correct hand swing. From the inside or the hinge side of a door, a right hand door will open on the right side toward you. Hinge side would be the side of the door that you can actually see the hinges. When on the outside or non hinge side of the door a right hand door will open away from you on the left. Yeah, I always get confused myself so I always draw a picture. Note that a pre-hung door will come on a jamb that is 4-9/16 thick or 6-9/16 depending on the wall the door is going in 2 x 4 walls or 2 x 6 walls.

I am seeing a lot more pocket doors being installed these days. Pocket doors are doors mounted on hardware slide into a pocket in the wall, hence pocket doors. One advantage of pocket doors is they can save a tremendous amount of space usually taken up by the door swing. It is important to plan pocket doors out so that no wiring or plumbing is in that portion of the wall. A variation of the pocket door that I am seeing more of is the sliding barn door. The sliding door uses a mounting hardware on one side of a doorway and functions similar to a pocket door, however barn doors take up wall space. Folding or bi-fold doors are also space savers and are usually found on closet doors. The swing of the door is lessened by having half the door hinge back into itself thus saving space.
French doors are double swinging doors which are often made up of glass panes. French doors are usually installed to allow a greater opening in a room and allow more light into a room.

Interior doors are made of solid wood, solid core, or hollow core. Solid wood doors are usually the most expensive because a lot of craftsmanship goes into a solid wood door. These doors can be made 1-3/4 inches thick or 1-3/8 inches thick of solid wood. Solid core doors usually have some sort of solid core made of particle board, MDF, or foam core with a veneer wood surface or a paint grade MDF surface. Hollow core usually are the cheapest and have a hollow core with a veneer door. More and more doors are being manufactured out of glass and metal or a combination of the two for a modern look.
Sound transmittance through doors is only as good as its installation. Different doors, from different manufacturers will have different STC ratings. STC stands for Sound Transmittance Class or how much sound will travel through a material. The higher the number the less sound can travel through the material. A door rating of 30 would mean that someone talking loud on the other side of the door can be heard and understood, while normal speech would be heard but not understood. A rating of 35 would mean that loud speech on the other side of the door would not be understandable. A rating of 45 and above would not allow loud speech to be heard on the other side of the door. When going for doors with a high STC rating to deaden sounds it all depends on the wall assembly as well. A door rated with a high STC would still transmit sound into another room if it was installed as a pocket door.

When selecting doors for your home it’s important to keep budget in mind, along with your needs, the style of the home, insulation and sound transmittance. For a garage door, budget is easier to follow especially since you normally only need one or two of these doors on a home. For interior doors, since the doors throughout a home typically match, be sure to consider how many doors you actually have before falling in love with that $800 door (don’t forget about closet doors, bathroom doors, etc.). Many homes have more doors than you think and it’s best to have a complete list of the interior doors up front so you’re properly prepared for how the replacement of these doors will impact your bottom line.

Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska – Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.