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Types of Doors: Interior and Exterior

This week, I had the pleasure of training two new people on the types of doors available to people. This is some good information for everybody doing any major home improvement to know. Different types of doors have different benefits and purposes within the house. One thing to note, there is some door specific vocabulary referenced in this article. If you have any questions check out the post on door vocabulary.

Types of Doors: Interior

Molded Hollow Core

Hollow core doors are the most basic type of door for interior use. If you go through any house…ever…it probably has hollow core doors, at least somewhere in the house. These doors have a few major benefits. Almost any profile of door, from 6 panel to craftsman, can be found in a basic hollow core. These doors are also the least expensive options with many profiles available for under $100 per door. Hollow core doors are available in stain grade, wood covered, options as well as paint grade, MDF covered options.

Hollow core doors are what they are advertised, completely hollow. Because they are hollow, these doors cannot stand up to a lot of, shall we say, force. Even kids are capable of putting holes in these doors with feet, hands, toys, etc. I promise that you will one day have to go through fixing holes in a hollow core door. The hollow nature of these doors also allows sound travel through the door more. Maybe not a good thing on a bathroom.

Molded Solid Core

So, if you take a molded hollow core door and fill the empty space between the molded panels with particle board, you get a solid core door. These doors are otherwise identical to hollow core doors. Since they match the look of hollow core doors exactly, they can easily be combined in the same house, even put right next to each other, and look great.

Solid core doors are more expensive than hollow core doors but they are worth it for their benefits, and they have some huge benefits. These doors are way better at sound proofing so they’re perfect for blocking…bathroom…sounds as well as noise coming through bedroom doors. You don’t want to wake the baby right?

Panel Doors

Panel doors are the classiest type of interior doors. These doors, rather than being made of molded panels of MDF are made by sandwiching panels of plywood between the wood stile and rail skeleton that makes up the structure of the door. Panel doors are interior doors with real sex appeal. They are heavy, they are beautiful, and they have super clean lines.

Because of how they’re made, panel doors have way more definition than molded doors. The lines are deeper which leads to better shadow lines in natural lighting. The sticking (the edges of the stiles and rails that surround the panels) can actually be a true 90 degrees so it allows for a perfect Shaker profile. Panel doors also behave like solid core doors by blocking most of the sounds coming through and they’re about the same price. Why buy a solid core door when you can buy a panel door?

Types of Doors: Exterior


Okay, I am going to go over the basics of steel doors quickly. Trust me, they aren’t worth too much time. Steel doors do have a couple of benefits. They are the cheapest types of doors available in order to fill a hole in an exterior wall. They also allow some options in terms of sizing or style that fiberglass doors don’t allow.

So ends the benefits. Steel doors rust from the bottom up, like a rash. They also dent dreadfully so if you are going to take things in and out of the door a lot, be prepared to see those dents. Steel doors do have a place in this world. If you have a lower budget, they will offer you an option to get a prettier door, it just won’t last as long. They are also great for things like sheds and outbuildings where you really don’t need a spend a ton of money.


Fiberglass doors are my favorite. They are moderately priced and their price has come down a lot recently so they are almost the same price as steel doors. They do not dent or rust like steel doors despite years of abuse so don’t worry about any issues there. Not only that but their warranties are better as well.

On a huge positive, fiberglass doors are incredible mimics now. They can look identical to wood, which everybody wants to look of, without the hassle of upkeep. They are almost the same price and have no issues like steel doors. Fiberglass door companies have gone to great lengths to make their doors infinitely unique so that you can design any door that you want.


Wood doors are the most beautiful doors, there is no competition. They are not my favorites only because they are not as weather resistant as fiberglass doors. Nothing can compete with the perfectly imperfect beauty of a wood door though. They are alive and rich with textures and colors that are as varied as the browns in the big box of crayons.

Wood doors do have one downside that keeps them from perfection. They are not incredibly weather resistant and require at least a two foot overhang in order to protect the door from the elements. If you don’t protect these doors, they will warp and twist which prevents them from closing correctly. You can also protect them through the diligent application of paint and stain, though no wood door, regardless of overhang, should be left unpainted or unstained.

Types of Doors: Fire Doors

Fire doors are one of the most specific types of doors. There are a couple of important factors that make a fire door. The fire door, from the jambs, to the door slab style, to the core of it, needs to function as a unit for the correct fire rating. Fire doors should have a 20 minute fire rating minimum which required a door 1-3/4″ thick, no window, and the correct core. The jambs need to be rated as fire jambs, usually primed pine. Some locations require spring hinges to keep the door shut. These requirements are really only meant with an exterior door.

It is vital that you know when and where to use a fire door. The most important spot to use a fire door is between the house and the garage. Most homeowners think that since this is an interior location and the door won’t see any weather, they don’t need an exterior door. The truth is that, to get the correct fire rating, and therefore safety, you need an exterior door.


When you are looking at a door, regardless of interior or exterior, it’s important to know that there are different types of doors that suit different needs or different budgets. If you are trying to match your existing doors, you need to know which type you already have. If you are looking to improve your home and your budget allows for it, I would seriously consider upgrading your doors to a better type. Once you choose an awesome new door, it’s time to choose a cool lockset to go with it and make it perfect.