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. With the right care your front door could last a lifetime.
Timber Doors Respond to the Weather
The first thing to understand is that timber doors are very responsive to the weather. Wood tends to swell in the wet or humid conditions, and contract in 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, if you are painting your door you will want to make sure your use a primer made for natural timbers and paint that will also act as a sturdy sealant. If you are staining your door you will need to apply a sealcoat and then at least two coats of a film forming stain. When painting or staining a door you need to ensure that you coat all six sides of the 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 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 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 to see if that colour is covered by warranty. You can paint your door sides two different colours although this looks attractive it is not necessarily cover 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 could void the warranty on many 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 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, but 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 weather-stripping 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 need to ensure you 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 entrance can serve your home faithfully for decades, but only if you take good care of 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. 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 home.