Your front door provides the first impression of your home to any new visitor, so it stands to reason that many homeowners invest in beautiful and distinctive custom timber doors for their homes. When created by reputable residential carpenters, a custom wooden front door can also provide equivalent or superior durability and security when compared to ordinary, 'off-the-shelf' exterior doors.
However, having a custom front door created isn't just a case of handing over a poorly-sketched design to the carpenters and leaving them to it—if you want to ensure that your finished door is everything you hoped for, you will have to make a number of key decisions. Keep the following questions in mind when designing your door to avoid any potential headaches for both you and your carpenters:
What type of my timber should my door be made from?
This can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer, as many carpenters work with a truly enormous range of woods from across the world. With so many shades and grains on show, choosing a single timber to work with can be challenging, but there are a couple of simple rules to follow that should help you narrow down your potential choices.
Firstly, you should almost certainly choose a hardwood timber. Many cheaper exterior doors are made from relatively durable softwoods, such as pine and douglas-fir, but these woods tend to be vulnerable to rot and can become dented and damaged surprisingly easily. As a general rule (with a few exceptions), hardwoods are more durable and far more resistant to rotting, and using hardwoods is the best way to ensure your investment stands the test of time.
Secondly, you should try to use native woods if at all possible. Australia is blessed with a wide variety of unique hardwoods with excellent working properties. Choosing imported wood can entail both lower quality timber and a massively enlarged carbon footprint for your front door. Some excellent native hardwood choices include spotted gum, blackbut, and the almost impossibly durable jarrah.
Do I want glass fittings in my front door?
A clear or frosted glass window fitted into your door can add a distinctive visual touch and makes it easier to identify unexpected visitors before opening your door. However, including windows in your custom door design may make certain elaborate door designs impractical or unworkable, and you should bear in mind that any window in your door presents a tempting weak spot for potential intruders. Make sure to work closely with your carpenters when designing your door to ensure that any window you desire can be integrated without undermining the door's strength or security.
How thick should my new front door be?
As a general rule, a thicker front door is a more secure front door, and a thick, redoubtable slab of timber barring entry to your home can add a great feeling of safety and security. Thicker timber also reduces the amount of heat exchange that takes place through your front door, so a thicker front door can help keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
However, thicker also means heavier, and excessively sturdy doors may be too heavy and unwieldy for children, the elderly and disabled people to use safely. They also cost commensurately more than thinner doors, so you should try to find the 'sweet spot' when it comes to your door's chosen thickness. Ask your carpenters if you can test out some pre-assembled doors of different thicknesses to assess their weights and how easy they are to operate.