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Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Posted by pam29011 (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 13, 11 at 10:11

Yesterday I met with a contractor that seems to really understand what I'm looking for in our remodel. He's a friend of a close friend and she reccomends him highly.

But he said something that surprised me ... If we want painted trim & painted doors, we should get masonite doors instead of wood.

Really? He said it was because of shrinkage & the paint cracking that is inevitable with wood. But I know the doors in the house my dad built were solid wood & they were painted (he built it from '73 - '76).

The doors we have today all through the house are hollow core doors installed in the mid 60's and I'm not a huge fan of them. They feel "light" when you close them, but the doors I had as a kid felt solid.

So I'm wondering ... can you paint a wood door today? Or would I be better off going with Masonite and will it "feel" like a wood door?

TIA!
-Pam


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Masonite is the name of a company that makes residential paneled doors in many materials including composites (wood & plastic), wood, and medium density fiberboard (MDF).

You need to ask your contractor which Masonite door he is recommending.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

One reason that contractor recommended something other than real wood doors is the difference in the density of new wood used in doors versus the older wood used in the doors of your childhood.

The trees cut for the older doors took much more time to reach their size. Trees grown in tree farm areas(the areas planted when older trees are cut) are designed to grow faster and are cut sooner.

This results in wood with less dense grain. That results in more area inside the wood to absorb moisture during seasonal temp/humidity changes. And allow the moisture to escape.

Paint does not prevent wood movement, it just inhibits it by limiting the moisture changes cycle.

So, the older, more dense pine/spruce/mahogany/etc. used in the older doors actually did not move as much as the new wood available today.

However, that wood movement is only a problem for doors using multiple panels. The differences in the thickness of the door rails and stiles(1-2" thick) and the inset panels(1/2-3/4" thick) create different expansion/contraction amounts. That causes a crack at the edges of the panels---which is what the contractor is waring about. Solid(flat) wood doors are less affected.

Masonite is a process developed to make a product now called tempered hardboard. The name Masonite is used to refer to any similar product---like Kleenex for tissues.

Lots of companies make tempered hardboard---some of it is good, some not so good. Since the material used is wood, the same cautions for using real wood apply. The movement of tempered hardboard due to humidity/etc. is less than wood when finished properly. The product can swell much more than wood if subjected to too much moisture.

A proper paint job on real Masonite(primer/paint) is sufficient protection for years of use.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Thanks for explaining this, guys! (using "guys" as a gender neutral term)

I'm close to talking myself into oak doors from Allegheny Wood Works. When I compare their pricing to a masonite door that isn't molded (but is made from individual pieces so it looks like real wood is under the paint) the difference is $150/door. Compared to HD pine, it's closer to $200 (including the jambs and casings). But ... if I go with oak then they'll relate to the floors (also oak). I don't want to say they'll match because they probably won't. But at least they'll be close-ish.

With 8 doors that's an extra $1600. It's a tough call. So far, the only things I can think of that I'm happy to compromise on are wall tile (plain white subway with a simple liner is fine) and floor in the bathroom (marmoleum, not marble). But I'm sure I will have to make other compromises soon.

I wish there was a website that recommended areas to cut costs & areas not to! I know that windows are not an area to go cheap, but what the heck is an area to go lower cost on? (rhetorical question, I know, the answer is always, "it depends")

Thanks!
-Pam


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

"However, that wood movement is only a problem for doors using multiple panels. The differences in the thickness of the door rails and stiles(1-2" thick) and the inset panels(1/2-3/4" thick) create different expansion/contraction amounts. "

he panels in a panel door are floating to allow them to move and not change the size of the door.
The rails and stiles that set the size of the door, with changes in wood size in the panels.
It is not the thickness, but the whole design.

Panels allow large sections that have stable exterior dimensions.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

I think it would very helpful if everyone mentioned the actual material and construction type or model name of the doors they are discussing and how they will be finished.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

The name Masonite is used to refer to any similar product---like Kleenex for tissues.

The proverbial "guy" at Home Depot may call it a masonite door before spitting into his kleenex.

But both Kleenex and Masonite are copyrighted names that refer to specific products of the respective companies.

Why anyone would get a wooden door just to paint it is beyond me. (OTOH, I once put in a beautiful mahogany double garage door and the customers directed it be painted, not stained.)


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Hi Worthy,

I grew up with painted wooden doors. Hollow core doors just don't feel right when they close. I can't explain it, but a solid wood door feels so much better. I figure I open my closet or bathroom doors probably 6-8 times a day. I'd rather spend extra $ on doors that feel good than crown molding or something like that.

In any case, I think we're going with a Mission profile 4-panel red oak door from Allegheny Wood Works. And we'll have them finished to match the oak floors. When we were considering pine doors I knew they wouldn't ever match the floors, and I've not been impressed with the pine doors from the big box stores. The grain isn't my taste, too open.

-Pam


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Can you find salvaged doors for sale where you live? We've refinished older doors made from old growth wood and have been quite happy with the results - especially the cost.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Masonite or Hardboard Panel doors come in solid core as well as hollow core so you do not have to settle for hollow doors.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

If you want a stained door, go solid wood, but if you want to paint it, use composite wood. There is a whole wide world between a solid wood door (that is a shame to pay for and be painted) and a cheap hollow core door. Solid Masonite doors give you the "thunk" of the solid wood and paint up much better. Composite wood materials don't absorb as much water vapor into their fibers as do solid wood products, and the water that they do absorb causes minimal seasonal expansion because the fibers are cross linked rather than aligned. That means minimal paint cracking between the stiles and rails of your painted door. You get a better and longer lived paint job with a composite wood product door than you do a solid wood door and at a lesser cost.


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

Hey GreenDesigns, you summed it up perfectly. That "thunk" is what I miss from these hollow core flat panel doors we have today. Maybe I'll hit the building supply showroom this weekend to go testing doors ;)

Thanks,
-Pam


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RE: Met with a contractor - questions about trim

The design process should be
flush or paneled
solid or hollow
finish
material

Since the OP had already made the first 2 choices we only needed to know the desired finish in order to be able to recommend the material.

Matching the wood of the floor seems like an obvious choice.


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also

I meant to point out that Masonite makes all of the possible doors that could be selected using the decision process I outlined so selecting a door manufacturer should occur at he end of the process rather than at the beginning.

I intentionally left out textured imitation stained wood composite doors. One has to draw the line somewhere.


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