Typically, when someone refers to a “wood door” this pertains to a “stile and rail” door made from real wood. This type of door is one where the vertical edge pieces (stiles) and the horizontal pieces (rails) are individual in nature but joined together, have real wood surfaces, and have the middle panels made with the same wood surfacing. These doors are usually finished with stain so the wood grain can be seen and enjoyed but, depending on customer preferences, also painted.
Technically, the other main type of residential door, the molded door, is also a wood door. The molded door has a high-density fiberboard surface or ‘skin’, has real wood or fiberboard edge strips, and either a hollow or solid core. These doors are always used with a painted finish.
The benefits of a real wood stile and rail door are primarily the appearance of having real wood to look at, and the quality of a true stile and rail door. They are regarded as ‘the genuine article’, as these doors were historically the first to be built and used on a large scale. They are generally more durable and will last longer than a molded door. After decades of service the door can be sanded down and refinished to restore its beautiful look.
The benefit of a molded door is primarily cost savings usually $100 to $150 less when the doors are intended to be painted. A solid core door removes about half of the savings but leaves you with a heavy ‘feel’ and sound control of a stile and rail door.
In today’s market, the majority of residential doors are molded doors due to the extensive variety available to fit different consumer styles. However, for higher quality and true wood appearance, the stile and rail wood doors are the best choice and unique custom doors can be ordered to achieve a one-of-a-kind look.