For many homeowners, there is no substitute for the strength and history of a natural timber door. You may have always dreamed of having a door of a particular colour, design, or type of wood. Maybe a door like one you grew up with or the home you always wanted. Or maybe the home you bought came with a beautiful but battered wood door you want to replace with authenticity. Whatever your reasons, as a homeowner, you can have the natural timber door you want and design it perfectly for fit your vision.
However, every owner of a natural timber door should know that all that history, strength, and surprisingly pleasant fragrance comes with a trade-off. Natural timber doors need a little bit of extra care to keep them in good condition for the many decades they can potentially last. The key is to remember that because your doors are made of wood, they should be protected from all the natural forces meant to break down wood that falls in a forest. And with the right care, you could be sporting beautiful heritage worthy front doors in less than a century.
Timber Doors Respond to the Weather
The first thing to understand is that timber doors are very responsive to the weather. Wood swells when there's moisture in the air and contracts when it's dry. It also tends to swell more in the wet or humid conditions, and less in the cold or dry conditions. This means that timber doors are susceptible to sticking in their frames, losing energy efficiency, or breaking their own paint unless owners choose their initial steps carefully.
A properly cured and sealed timber door will be less susceptible to swelling and will fit snugly into a professionally installed frame. Starting with a high quality timber door is key to seeing the life-long performance you expect. From there, you will want to make sure your door is painted with a primer made for natural timbers and a front door paint that will also act as a sturdy sealant. Consult with your door or paint professionals to find the right mixes for your region, colour palette, and choice of door.
Provide a Sheltered Entrance
Not all Front doors are designed to withstand a lot of exposure to harsh weather and beating sunshine. Timber doors especially should not be in an exposed location. A natural timber door is softer and more susceptible to weather than, say, a composite or aluminium door. To take good care of your timber door, consider building a covered porch or awning to protect it from rain, hail, and sunshine.
If you already have a covered porch or overhang, congratulate yourself on having an ideal position for your new timber door. If you're making major entrance renovations, consider designing a lovely sheltered entrance where umbrellas can be shaken out, boots can be removed, and rain can be watched from a protected chair, and your timber door will remain protected 95% of the time.
Never Paint Your Door Exterior Black
As the homeowner, you can paint or stain your door any colour you want but you may want to check if it voids the doors warranty. You can paint your door sides two different colours, using a clever perspective trick to make it look complete on both sides, this may look attractive but it may not be covered by warranty. You can use accent colours or even paint a lovely hand-drawn pattern on your door. But the one thing you should never do is paint the outside of your natural timber door black or a dark colour. Why, you ask?
It has to do with the way colour conducts heat. When the sunlight shines on a black door, that black paint soaks up all the heat and massively increases the heat of the door. For a timber door that is hot on the outside but cool on the interior side, this will inevitably cause uneven swelling and warping. You may start to notice cracks in the paint, fitting poorly into the frame, and even leaking sap from the cracks.
Be careful to only paint exterior doors and window frames colours that reflect less than 50% of the light. Talk to your local paint expert to determine exactly how to do this. You might be surprised, but using dark paint will actually void the warranty on most exterior home supplies.
Have the Frame Professionally Fitted
Timber doors require more room and a carefully created snug fit from the door frame. Because they swell and shrink with the weather, even a small amount, you need a frame that is cut and designed perfectly for the door. If the door frame is too tight, the door will stick in warm and humid weather. This is not only hard to deal with, it can also cause scuffing that will damage the paint and potential breach your door's sealed protective layer.
If the door frame is too loose, your door will swing freely but in cold or dry weather, it will shrink. If it shrinks too far, the weatherstripping no longer forms a seal and your home is no longer energy efficient. The fit of your door-frame is incredibly important. Most homeowners either buy a door that comes in a pre-fitted frame or work with professionals to ensure that their natural timber door fits perfectly into the frame they construct. The quality of your weather stripping also matters. You should be careful to use the right kind of weather stripping and to replace the strips about every five years for best performance.
For homeowners looking for tradition, history, or a classic heritage appearance, nothing beats a natural timber door. The solid wood portal can serve your home faithfully for decades, but only if you take good care if it. It's important to choose a high-quality door, protect it with paint or a suitable sealer and shelter, and make sure your door is fit perfectly into the frame where it will be hanging. With the right choices and a little attention over the years, you can enjoy the beauty, performance, and gentle wood fragrance of a natural timber door for your Australia home.