Internal Doors: How to Choose

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Although tempting to leave to the end to save hassle and delay unnecessary costs, internal doors are essential to get right early on in a project.

Price, size, construction and material have always been the main drivers behind the decision-making process but with the increase in suppliers and developments in functionality in recent years, there have been increased considerations homeowners need to undertake before they make a purchase.

No longer just practical products to make up the fabric of the house, selecting a traditional- or contemporary-style comes into play, as does the decision as to whether to buy them on a door-only basis or as a complete doorset with ironmongery in place.

The rise of the ‘broken plan’ layout has reassessed the way homeowners utilise a space and getting internal doors right can make or break this design process. Unless you’re planning on living in a house where privacy is non-existent, every homeowner will be required to choose a style to suite their home. Open plan living is great for main living areas but elsewhere in a home internal doors are a must.

Choosing Internal Doors

In any homebuilding project, for internal doors to have real impact they should be considered in two separate phases: the size and the finish.

A decision on the size and configuration of your doors should be made as early on in the architectural process as possible to ensure the correct sized openings.

Take pocket doors for example, the cassette into which they slide into will need to be built into the wall, so it is essential the requirements before the walls go up so no disruptive alterations will need to be made when it comes to fitting them.

Secondly, the finish of the doors should be considered at the same time as the rest of the interior design scheme. Although it is natural for your wish list of ideas to change throughout the planning and building process, factoring in the aesthetics at the beginning of the project allows for these to develop.

There is so much to consider with any home improvement project, and much more for those designing from scratch, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing doors right at the close of the project, but it’s important to be aware that there are limitations when this approach is taken.

How Much Do Internal Doors Cost?

The price of internal doors varies greatly depending on three key factors: material, construction quality, and whether you’re buying a single door or a doorset. At the cheaper end of the scale, if you are buying on a door-only basis you would be looking at paying between £50-£200 per door — budgeting a further £30-£40 per door for handles, latch and hinges.

For doorsets, to show how greatly prices can vary, companies such as JELD-WEN offer sets ranging between £90-£300, while the likes of Urban Front advertise doorsets starting at £1,200. Ideally you’ll want them to last, and are less likely to change your internal doors than opt for a new kitchen, so think about investing in quality doors and prioritise your budget accordingly.

Can I Buy Internal Doors Online?

It is tempting in today’s world of online shopping and easy, fuss-free delivery to buy all furnishings online and while internal door suppliers often have great online brochures and beautiful inspirational imagery, it’s very important to view the doors in person before purchasing.

Generally it is best to be cautious in cases like this as although great resources of inspiration and interior ideas, online product imagery can be deceptive, especially when the doors are on the cheaper side.

If you do end up sourcing your doors online, it is very important to inspect the doors immediately on delivery.

Types of Internal Doors

Most internal doors will either be hollow or solid, so it’s important to know the differences between the two as the quality can vary, affecting price as a result. A hollow two-skin door have air spaces within the core and therefore is less robust, lighter in weight and cheaper.

Doors with a engineered timber core are by far the best value for money as they are less likely to twist or change shape than standard wood throughout the year.

The fabric of solid doors also provides better sound and thermal insulation with better insulative properties running through the core of the door.

The general rule of thumb with internal doors is the lighter the doors equates to the cheaper the price.

Should I Choose a Doorset?

Doors can be purchased either on its own or as a doorset and you would be wise to be clear with your supplier which you are after from the outset.

When buying a single door, you’ll be buying just a door leaf, whereas a doorset includes a door leaf, the door lining (also known as a frame or casing) and architrave (designed to cover the gap between the door, wall and lining), plus hinges, locks, latches and so on (the handle may or may not be supplied).

Buying doors in a set not only reduces labour costs to install but also benefits from accuracy and speed of insulation. When fitting a standard doors, it’s just a case of measuring the opening bearing in mind the floor level, and hanging new hinges plus the new door.

However, if you are carrying out a renovation or remodel project, then you might consider buying single doors on a supply-only basis — especially if you already have a carpenter on site. Ripping out existing door frames, linings or architraves can be problematic as you never know what lies beneath so can lead to a lot more work.

If you do choose to go down this route, it is important to measure the opening and not just the doors itself: measure wall-to-wall, top middle and bottom width and height in order to get the most accurate measurement.

Internal Door Styles

Modern homes’ love of the open plan layout has led to the advent of internal doors that can slide or fold away to open up various living spaces on the ground floor while doors to separate more private areas upstairs are still firmly rooted in more traditional.

Most homeowners want internal doors on the ground floor to be special and to bring a certain wow-factor to the overall design while people are generally less bothered about other floors because guests don’t tend to see them.

Door finishes

Cross-directional grains, different timbers, glazed inserts and a variety colour options all mean a wow factor can be created in many ways.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of planning your design scheme in advance, and this doesn’t just mean the colour or material finish, as you will have to deal with the orientation of the door and direction which it opens into a room for the foreseeable, so it’s best to get it right the first time around.

Pocket Doors

A stylish and space-saving option, pocket doors can be hidden away in the cavity of an adjacent wall. Architrave free or flush designs are great additions to contemporary homes while more traditional ‘barn-style’ sliding tracks wouldn’t look out of place in a renovated cottage.

(MORE: How to Choose Pocket Doors)

Frameless Doors

Although more expensive than other styles of internal doors, frameless doors create a modern and seamless appearance. As the are made with an invisible frame and a shadow gap, these doors need to be planning at the design stage to ensure the wall is built so the junctions between the wall and the door are perfect as they won’t be hidden by an architrave.

Oversized Doors

With modern houses increasingly featuring vaulted ceilings, designers and architects are starting to realise that internal door heights also need to be enhanced to maintain proportion with the room. So, taller oversized doors are becoming more popular too.

However, going from a standard-sized door to a bespoke, oversized one will be reflected in the price — especially if you’re specifying a full-height 2.4m-high door, as this will also require stronger hinges or pivot hinges. If you’re renovating, the opportunity to choose over-sized doors will be limited unless you widen the structural opening. However, if you have a blank canvas and factor it into the wall construction phase, there is much more freedom and scope for interior doors to become focal design features.

Do I Need a Fire Door?

Fire safety doors are usually required when the property is more than two storeys – fire doors may be required when a loft is converted, for example, to meet Building Regulations requirements – and/or if the garage is integral. Many suppliers have noticed an uptake in converting their standard doors into fire doors, particularly on more vulnerable rooms such as kitchens.

Expect to pay between 10-20% more for a fire door.

How Do I Install an Internal Door?

Most standard doors can be installed on a DIY basis, but the time it takes largely depends on the type of product being installed. The task of installing a new door where there is not an existing lining and architrave involves fitting the lining and architraves, painting them, planing down an oversized door to make it fit, hanging it and then adding the door handles and latches.

You may need to paint or finish the door if you’ve bought a primed or untreated model, too. The process can take the best part of a day. It’s often more cost effective to ask your carpenter to undertake the task for you. (Fitting a door to an existing opening will obviously take less time.)

Doorsets, on the other hand, provide a more time-effective alternative, with arguably a superior end result. The door is already pre-fixed to the lining as part of manufacturing process, so only the architraves may need adding and cutting down to size, and the handles added.

All the necessary alterations and finishing take place in the factory rather than on site.

It may be worth factoring in the cost of all the separate components and the labour associated with installing a door leaf before ruling out a doorset.


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