Archinet UK

Doors Resource: Door Construction

We describe and illustrate here the main ways in which doors can be constructed. They are: Wooden Plank Doors, Wooden Panel Doors, Panel Effect Doors, Flush Doors, and Glazed Doors. Please see our separate sections for an explanation of the various types of
Door Operation and Door Fittings.


The original type of wooden door is the plank door. This is made up of vertical wooden planks, which may have tongue and groove edges, as shown in the detail to the right. The vertical planks are connected together on the inside by horizontal planks known as rails. Originally the door furniture, such as hinges and locks, would be fitted to the face of the door, rather than to the edge.

The simplest plank door, with horizontal rails only, is known as a ledged door. Over time, weight of the door is liable to lead to sagging, and a more robust variant is the ledged and braced door. This has diagonal rails placed between the horizontal rails, giving greater strength. A third approach, giving yet greater strength and facilitating the fitting of door hinges and door locks, is the framed ledged and braced door. This has the horizontal rails along the top and bottom of the door, with additional vertical rails down each side. To create a strong frame, the horizontal and vertical rails are connected with mortise and tenon joints. Other variants are the window door, containing a small window in the upper part, and the stable door, which is divided horizontally into two independent doors. This allows the bottom part to be closed, while the top part is open to provide light and ventilation. These five types of wooden plank door are shown below.

Plank doors continue to be used today in new build and refurbishment, particularly where a traditional rural look is wanted. The best quality plank doors are made of oak; cheaper plank doors are made of softwood such as pine. Plank doors are also used in secondary buildings such as garden sheds.


The classic traditional door is the wooden panel door. It is made up of a strong frame, connected with mortise and tenon joints. An example of a mortise and tenon joint is shown to the right. The vertical members of the frame are known as stiles, and the horizontal members are known as rails. The frame may be sub-divided with additional rails and stiles. The rectangular spaces between the rails and stiles are filled with solid panels of wood, which may be flat or raised in profile. Alternatively some of the rectangular spaces may be glazed either with a single sheet of glass, or with smaller panes of glass separated by glazing bars.

The highest quality wooden panel doors would be made of hardwoods such as oak, walnut, beech, ash, or mahogany. Wooden panel doors can also be made of cheaper softwoods such as pine, in which case they can either be given a natural finish or painted in a colour.

In the 19th and early 20th century it was usual to incorporate one or more panels made of coloured leaded glass within a wooden panel door. An example, of a design by Charles Rennie Macintosh, is shown on the right. Contemporary glass artists continue to produce designs for glass panels to be incorporated into wooden panel doors. 


As an alternative to genuine panel doors, there is a wide choice of panel effect doors, which simulate the appearance of a panel door but are not of frame and panel construction. Such doors are available for both interior and exterior use. There are three main types of panel effect door: solid routed, composite routed, and moulded.

Solid routed panel effect doors

Solid routed panel effect doors are made from solid medium density fibreboard (MDF) with the reliefs and mouldings being cut into the surface using a routing machine. A cross section of a solid routed panel effect door is shown above.

Provided they are painted, solid routed panel effect doors can produce a door which is functionally very similar to a genuine wooden frame and panel door. It has the advantage that MDF is a very stable material, which will not warp or twist. But MDF is susceptible to damage from water, and MDF doors should never be used as exterior doors.

Solid routed panel effect doors are also used for kitchen and bathroom cabinets, where they offer a cheaper (although less attractive) alternative to genuine frame and panel doors. An example is shown to the right.

Composite routed panel effect doors

A cheaper and lower quality alternative to the solid routed panel effect door is the composite routed panel effect door. Instead of having a core of solid MDF, this has a core of foam or chipboard. Cross sections of two examples of composite routed panel effect doors, one with a foam core and the other with a chipboard core, are shown below:

Moulded panel effect doors

Moulded panel effect doors are formed from a moulded skin strongly glued to a foam, chipboard, or MDF core. The highest quality skins are made from glass reinforced polyester (GRP), which can incorporate a realistic wood grain surface texture. Cheaper skins are made of thermo formed plastic such as UPVC. The quality and durability of these doors is highly dependent on the density, stability and continuity of the core material. A cross section of a moulded panel effect door, with a chipboard core, some hollow areas, and softwood edges, is shown below:


Flush doors are the most common form of door for use in modern buildings. They have a completely flat surface, and give a contemporary appearance. The quality of a flush door depends on the quality of the surface panel, the quality of the core, and the quality of the edging.

The cheapest and lightest type of flush door has a honeycomb core, softwood interior framing, and surface panels of foil-faced hardboard. The most expensive and heaviest flush doors have a solid and continuous core of wood block or chipboard, and surface panels of plywood. All surfaces of the door are faced with hardwood veneer. All types of flush door may have a surface of plywood, hardboard, or MDF, suitable for painting instead of a wood effect or wood veneer finish. In all cases the flush door has a solid wood or chipboard lock block in the part of the door in which the handle and lock will be mounted.

Flush doors can be fitted with rectangular or circular glazed panels. Glazed  panels of this kind are widely used for doors in offices, schools, and hospitals.


There are two types of fully glazed doors: framed and frameless. Framed glazed doors may be hinged, folding, sliding or revolving, with frames made of aluminium, timber, or UPVC.

An example of an aluminium extrusion frame for a double glazed sliding patio door is shown to the right. The weight of the doors is taken by inset wheels running along the bottom track.

Frameless glazed doors are formed from a single sheet of laminated or toughened glass, drilled to take hinges and handles. They are popular in modern buildings, as they let in the maximum light, and give a very clean clear appearance. Frameless glazed doors need special handles and hinges, an example of which is shown on the left.


Publisher: Archinet UK is published by Extonet Ltd, which also publishes the Britain's Best Architects, Beesker, Reviews Index UK, and Wikigiving websites. It is financed only by Google advertising; no payment is received from websites included in our product guides.


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