As suppliers of wood doors our customers often ask us about the types of timber our doors are constructed from and the qualities of the different varieties. Here is some information which will be useful.
There are two timber types, called hardwood and softwood. The names have no reference to the properties of the wood as some softwoods can be hard and some hardwoods have soft properties.
Softwoods come from evergreen coniferous trees which have needled leaves and are cone bearing such as Pine, Cedar and Fir. There are many sub types within these groups such as Pitch Pine which can have the appearance of Oak.
Hardwoods come from deciduous trees which have broad leaves, the main types used are Beech, Birch, Elm, Ash, Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, Meranti, Sapele, Teak, Iroko and Obeche. Some of these trees are grown in more northern climates such as the Oak, Cherry, Beech and Elm whereas others are grow in warmer and sometimes moist climates such as Mahogany and Meranti.
Generally, hardwoods have a higher density and hardness than softwood though there is a lot of variation within these timber groups, for example, Balsa wood, used for model making is soft and light yet is a hardwood. Yew, classed as a softwood is harder than many hardwoods. In the main, hardwoods are more resistant to decay and can be used externally, whereas softwoods are better used in internal situations.
Some questions our customers ask about our products may help:-
Q. Why do you only use American Black Walnut, which is a hardwood, for internal doors?
A. It is expensive and best used as a veneer, also due to its lovely appearance is suited for applications such as furniture and interior doors.
Q. If Oak is a Hardwood why is it used for both internal and external doors?
A. We use American White Oak for both internal and external doors due to its uniform grain and reasonable price. But English and European Oak is slower growing more figured and expensive. However you will notice in our Finishing Instructions that when used for an external door a stain/varnish with a tint is recommended to protect the timber from damage from ultraviolet light.
Q. Why are your Pine doors internal styles? I thought Pine could be used for external doors.
A. In the past some external doors were constructed from Pine. This was often Pitch Pine and of a type which was slow grown and denser, in the past, these doors would be painted with lead based paints, which are now banned, and did have to be maintained on a regular basis. The softer fast grown pine available for the mass market is only suitable for internal application.