Context. Door is used in humidity, rain, and high UV.


  1. What to look for in timbers' specifications in order to see how well they fit the context?

    From my research, I found these, but not sure how comprehensive it is:

    1. Warping due to humidity.
    2. Vulnerability to termite.
  2. Any objective metrics and benchmarks in this domain?

  3. Does the requirement imply that no softwood timber is good and that I'm limited to hardwood?

  • 1
    Hi, maybe you overthink this? If you look at what external doors are made from locally I think you will find your answer directly.
    – Volfram K
    Oct 3 at 22:01
  • @VolframK - Yes, but I don't want to repeat their mistakes.
    – caveman
    Oct 4 at 7:18
  • 1
    After centuries of wooden door techniques and construction, there are no "mistakes". There are only trade-offs. You really aren't going to change the state-of-the-art unless you study the material and techniques for awhile and find out what the trade-offs happen to be. For example, termites are the least of your worries for most doors in most home construction, even in the most termite-infested areas.
    – jdv
    Oct 4 at 13:08
  • 1
    That all being said, you've asked a number of broad questions here, any of which could be an answer on its own. This isn't a way to attract good answers, unfortunately. And I can't think of what the primary question is here. How to build a traditional exterior wooden door? What material to build an exterior wooden door with? Some of this will depend on your locale and the materials at hand. It may even depend on aesthetics -- maybe you want a big old teak or purple heart door to impress your friends! The traditional craft of wooden door making isn't going to be answered in a single Q&A.
    – jdv
    Oct 4 at 13:14

I think the Comments have made a few very salient points, but you might boil it down to just this:
exterior-durable species that I can afford 1.

In most places this will give you a shortlist of woods to select from, many of which will already be in use in commercial doors.

Possible additional factors in your choice worth highlighting include any concerns about carbon miles (typically, a few of the suitable woods are going to be tropical hardwoods), whether you want to use a natural or processed wood product (e.g. Accoya or similar), how exposed or sheltered the location is2 and somewhat tied to that what you hope/plan to finish the door with3.

1 This is especially relevant right now, as due to Covid-19 currently we're at the tail end of a global wood shortage, which saw prices rise to the highest ever seen in some cases (well over 300% increase over the previous year's prices).

2 Which compass direction it faces does have a bearing, as of course does whether there is any overhead protection from the elements. Very broadly speaking, the more exposed the situation the more you'd want to err on the side of a maximally durable species/product.

3 In terms of traditional finishes, paint being the most protective by far. Varnish is a definite step below this (even marine-quality, consumer-level exterior varnishes are a very distant second place in this category) and penetrating finishes trailing the pack.

  • Just to add to my point about affordability, a truism about woodworking is worth repeating: in most cases it's impossible to beat the price of commercial offerings. This is true down at the bottom with chipboard/particleboard furniture and it scales up and up as you go to hardwoods.
    – Graphus
    Oct 5 at 0:00
  • As the owner of a century home in a challenging climate, I can concur that every traditionally constructed exterior door (which, in turn, is just a slightly larger in all dimensions interior door) uses "local relatively straight grained hardwood" for stiles and rails, and "local, relatively flat softwood" for panels. Then slather on on a number of good thick coats of varnish, let home-owners paint over that for a few decades. And always install a storm door, which you let take most of the abuse.
    – jdv
    Oct 5 at 13:23
  • @jdv, FWIW here, while softwood exterior doors were known, even relatively common, in previous eras, hardwoods have been the norm for at least as long as I've been around, with various tropical species I think topping the bill for much of that time. Now, finally, domestic hardwoods are being used more and more (in part because I think the writing is on the wall about the availability of even the currently not-threatened tropical building woods).... in my time first teak, then one of the lesser mahoganies became unavailable or too expensive for normal use. Sapele may soon follow suit.
    – Graphus
    Oct 5 at 21:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.