Selecting Interior Doors for Your Home

Interior doors are a subtle yet very effective way to alter the look and feel of your home, allowing you to personalize your homes décor to truly reflect your unique style.

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Recycled Door

Traditionally, the style, color and materials of the interior doors and trim were consistent throughout the entire house. Today, designers are getting more adventuresome, using a different and unique door style, color or material to accentuate the entrances to key rooms: master bedroom, living room or den.

Using a beautiful wood French door to accentuate an office or den, also enables you to effectively enhance that room with rich looking wood trim, wainscoting and custom millwork, while the rest of the house has painted doors and trim.

If you would like a truly unique interior door to help personalize your home décor, look for a recycled or re-loved wood door. Picture an old refinished door with a beautiful stained glass window as the entrance to your basement. That would be a great conversation piece.

Ten Questions to Answer When Selecting Your Interior Doors:

There is an extensive selection of types, styles, sizes, materials and hardware to choose from when selecting an interior door. Answering these questions will help direct you to the best door for your project.

1. Is the door going in an existing opening or a new opening?

The type of renovation you are doing will greatly impact many of your answers to the following questions. If you’re renovation is focused on just one room, than you are most likely dealing with an existing opening, so the size and location of your doors are pretty much determined. As too is the type, style and material of your doors, as you will most like want to match or a least complement the other doors in your home.

However, if you are currently focused on one room, but are planning eventually renovating the whole floor or house, than you may want to select different doors and live with the different doors for a while.

If you are doing a major renovation involving an entire floor or the entire house, or if you are building a new house, than you have a great opportunity to personalize your interior doors to better reflect your unique decorating style.

2. What size of door do you want/need?

There are a number of different dimensions used in reference to interior doors:

I. Door Size: refers to the actual size of the door. Most manufactures make doors in 2” increments starting at 24” and going to 42”. While international building codes are fairly silent on door widths, many communities specify a minimum door size of 30” for most rooms, and 24” for bathrooms. However, it is strongly recommended to use 34” or 36” doors where ever possible to allow for wheelchair access.

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II. Clear Opening: refers to the width of the opening once the door is installed. It is the measurement from the open door to opposite door stop. This dimension is always smaller than the actual door size. In order to get a 34” clear opening, the door would need to be 36” wide.

III. Rough Stud Opening (RSO): refers to the size of the framed opening. The RSO is usually 2” wider and 2” taller than the actual door size, allowing for the door jam and shims. Interior doors are installed with a gap between the bottom of the door and the finished flooring to allow for air circulation. This gap is typically about ¾”.

IV. Door heights: the standard height for most interior doors is 80” (RSO of 82”), however many door manufactures also offer 84” and 96” doors as standard options. If you are building new home, or doing a major renovation on an existing home, with 9’ or 10’ ceilings, installing 8’ tall doors is a subtle way to customize the décor of your home.

3. Do you want a hollow core or solid core doors?

A solid core door, while more expensive, significantly increases the doors sound proofing, makes the door feel more solid, and last longer. We recommend upgrading to solid core doors for the entry doors to the master bedroom, bathrooms, laundry rooms, the furnace room, and basement, as well as doors with frequent use.

4. Do you want PREFINISHED or unfinished doors?

A pre-finished door comes with a factory finish, which could be painted or stained depending on the material the door is made from. While factory finishes tend to be better quality, your choice are limited and you will pay more. Most people get unfinished doors.

5. What type of doors do you want?

· Hinged: These are the most common interior doors, available in many different styles and materials.

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hinged door 2 - interior doors -

· Sliding: Traditionally, this was a two door system in which the doors slide over each other. It was used primarily for closets with larger openings and limited space for swinging doors. Door options includes various styles of solid doors, glass doors or mirrors.

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sliding door 2 - interior doors -

· Barn Doors: This newly adopted variation of rustic old barn doors, is a type of sliding door that sliding over the adjacent walls. It is often used in modern or contemporary homes and apartments.

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barn door 2 - interior doors -

· Pocket Doors: A style of door that was very popular in older homes, these sliding doors hide inside the wall when not being used. Pocket doors usually need to be installed at the time of framing the wall.

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pocket door 2 - interior doors -

· Folding Doors: Usually used for closets or smaller spaces like under stairs or in utility rooms where a full size hinged door is not practical.

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Folding Door System

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· Blind or “hidden” door: These are very custom doors that are built into the décor or mill work of a room in order to make them less noticeable.

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Hidden Door

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6. If hinged, do you want a PREHUNG or slab door?

A pre-hung door comes ready to install. The door and jamb come with bore holes for the handle and tumbler, and the hinges, striker plate and tumbler faceplate are already milled out. Pre-hung doors are great for the DIY homeowners.

If you are simple replacing the doors and not the jambs, make sure the locations of hinges and handles line up perfectly before buying the door.

Slab doors do not come ready to install. These require some skill, a number of specialty tools and jigs, and an abundance of thought and patience. If you are not experienced with hanging doors, this is a very good time to invite that “handyman” neighbor or friend over for a refreshment.

7. If hinged, which way do you want the door to swing?

Will it swing in or out? Are the hinges on the right or left?

Most doors entering a room swing into that room, but not all. Closet doors usually swing out into the main room or hall. Always consider your traffic routes and furniture placement. You don’t want a door opening into an un-expecting person walking by.

8. What style of doors do you want?

The selection of door styles you have to select from is truly amazing! Door manufacturers are constantly adding new options to their offerings, trying to accommodate every possible home style and personal taste. There is no need to have doors custom made any more.

If you’re goal is to enhance your home’s décor by selecting interior doors that are unique and different than all the other cookie cutter houses on your street, don’t expect to find what you want on the shelves at your local building supply store. Most retail stores only stock the most popular products and sizes.

However, this does not mean that they can’t order them for you. Start by researching various interior door manufacturers to see their full product options available or ask your retailer for the product catalogues of the various manufactures they use. Your perfect interior doors are out there waiting for you to find them.

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Plain "Slab" Door

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Moulded Panel Doors

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Shaker Doors

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French Door

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Louvers Doors

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Modern Doors

9. What material do you want the doors made from?

Since interior doors are not exposed to outdoor weather conditions, the variety of materials used to manufacturer interior doors is quite long compared to exterior doors. The best place to start is deciding whether you want painted doors or stained doors?

If you want painted doors, MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is the most popular material and is available in a huge selection of moulded panel doors. MDF is very durable, yet cost efficient. It comes with a primed wood embossed texture to resemble wood or a plain finish.

If you want stained doors, then you will want a wood door. Depending on the type of wood used, wood doors can either be solid wood or wood veneer. The type of wood you select can greatly impact the price of the door.

There are many different kinds of real woods used to manufacture interior doors, including: oak, pine, cedar, cherry, birch, maple, ash, walnut, and mahogany. The color, wood grain, and price will determine the right type of wood for your doors.

10. What hardware is going on the door?

The door hardware consists primarily of the handle set, hinges and door stop. They are available in a variety of colors, finishes and styles to compliment your unique decorating style.

When selecting these, remember to consider the other hardware in the room, like: the light fixtures, cupboard pulls and knobs, bathroom faucets, and metal stair spindles. Also remember that there is two sides to each door, so could possibly have two different colors and styles of hardware to deal with.

Take advantage of free easy home renovation planner tool. Have all your projects from idea to completion well organized and documented in one place that is always available anywhere, anytime. The ultimate home improvement portfolio tool for homeowners.


Interior doors and interior trim tend to be very closely related. You can’t select interior doors without considering the interior trim. Next check our article focused on selecting interior house trim


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