Solid timber front doors have been a tradition for as long as we can remember. There is something satisfying and even comforting about solid hardwood between your home and the outside world. Wood doors don’t dent like metal doors or shatter like glass. Though it’s rare these days, we even imagine that we can smell the wood underneath layers of paint or varnish and sealant. But not all wood doors are the same. The thing about solid timber doors is that they are made of natural material, material that can be of higher or lower quality, ages, changes with the seasons, and can even change in size depending on the climate outside.
There are a lot of things people don’t know about wood front doors. Like why they sometimes stick and sometimes open smoothly, why some withstand the test of time better than others, and why some wood doors seem to let the winter cold in while others do not. Here in the depth of the Melbourne winter, many people may be wondering why their solid timber door, which fit so well in the frame in the warmer months, is suddenly a source of drafts just as it’s getting chilly outside. And as your Australia front door experts, today we’re eager to give you a complete explanation along with several possible solutions to your drafty front door problem.
Why Timber Doors Swell and Shrink
The first thing to understand about timber doors is that because they are made of wood, they are not always the same size or perfect shape as the day they were cut. Even if your door was installed perfectly, sanded down to fit the frame and re-sealed around the edges, it will not always fit the same way in your door frame. While it’s hard to see in most other wood items, wood responds in subtle ways to temperature and humidity.
When the humidity is high, especially combined with warm temperatures, the actual plant-cells in the wood fibre swell with water like the did when the door was part of a living tree. This causes your door to increase in size, which is why your Melbourne door may stick in the frame when it rains or becomes notably humid outside. However, the opposite is also true.
Doors can also shrink in dry and very cold weather. Just like how living trees go dormant and sometimes seem to ‘shrivel’ in cold winters, your timber door does the same. When it gets dry and cold, the cells will not hold water the way they do when it’s humid and the door will shrink in the frame. This can cause gaps around the edge of the door, creating an opportunity for drafts.
Why High-Quality Timber Fit Better in the Frame
One of the reasons wood front doors can seem so unpredictable is because quality matters a great deal in creating a secure solid timber front door. The type of wood, the way it is cut and cured, and how well it is fit into the door frame all influence the quality of your timber front door experience. Low-quality timber doors, and many older doors made with less sophisticated techniques, are more likely to swell, shrink, and often fit badly into their frames.
Modern high-quality timber doors, on the other hand, are made in a way that reduces weather-based response. From selection to sealant, a new timber front door is less likely to cause seasonal trouble than older doors or doors of lower quality.
Weather-Stripping Does the Rest
Of course, any solid timber door will do a small amount of swelling and shrinking, that’s just the nature of wood and the plant fibre cells it is made of. The key is to cut your door so that it doesn’t stick in humid weather and when it’s dry or cold, weather stripping takes care of the rest. Weather stripping is the thick almost brush-like lining around any exterior door. It is rubber on one side and felt or another type of soft sturdy fabric on the other side.
Weather stripping is important for any type of door because it ensures a weather-proof seal between the door and the frame. But it’s especially important for timber doors because of the size changing element we’ve been discussing. Weather stripping allows you to cut your door such that it doesn’t stick when it swells, but there are no cold drafts when it shrinks. If you choose to replace your drafty old timber door with a new high-quality solid timber door, weather stripping is the answer to the small amount of swelling and shrinking that is inevitable in variable Melbourne weather.
Modern Alternatives to Timber Doors
Of course, with modern technology also comes modern alternatives. Humans have relied on solid timber doors for centuries because before advanced material developments, timber was the most secure and weather-proof material we had to make doors out of. But today’s front door selection goes so far above and beyond traditional timber as to boggle the mind.
Aluminium doors, for example, are no longer the easily dented and highly temperature-conductive doors they used to be. With insulation and design advancements, you could replace your old wooden door with a sleek aluminium door, polished or painted. This is a great way to provide your home with security and style with the use of a modern material door.
But even more impressive than aluminium is composite fibreglass. Made entirely of advanced constructed materials, composite doors are undentable, immune to the elements, and layered with insulation and reinforcement. They are the peak of modern comfort, security, and convenience in front door technology.
If your current front door sticks in the summer and is drafty in the cold Melbourne winters, it may be time for a change. Here at Parkwood, we know that choosing a new front door can be a very personal decision which is why we offer a wide selection of materials and styles. Whether you want the tradition and security of a modern solid timber front door, the modern style of aluminium, or the advanced technology of a composite entryway, we can help you find the perfect new front door for your home. Summer and winter, the right front door will swing smoothly in the frame and ensure your home is safe from whatever the weather might be outside. For more information about how to choose a front door that won’t stick or become a source of cold winter drafts, contact us today!