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ElizaWhyza 05-16-2012 08:08 PM

pros & cons of wood interior doors or MDF solid core
Does anyone have an experience or advice about which is better? I want fairly basic 4 panel colonial style doors, so I am trying to decide what materials. Are there any MDF doors that you feel have nice crisp lines?

Also, are ball bearing hinges worth getting? I hear that the door operates better with them.


joecaption 05-16-2012 08:12 PM

Both will work fine in most cases. If your willing to spend 4 times as much then go with the soild wood and balll bearing hindges.
I''ve had MDF doors, standard hindges for 10 years and never had any issues.
Unless this is a really old historicly correct house not worth the extra money.

ElizaWhyza 05-16-2012 08:22 PM

Thanks! Interestingly, a guy at a lumber yard suggested that a wood four panel door would be around $150,which seemed reasonable. He said a four panel would be a stock door, hence the good price. Some of the MDF doors would be in the $250-$300 range.

I'm not the one spending the money (or I guess the money has already been spent and is now being fulfilled), since this is a fixed bid contract. Our spec calls for Simpson solid core MDF or approved equivalent. Within the Simpson line there seem to be options in the way the doors are manufactured. Our GC gave us a brochure for Masonite doors that are molded doors made from Low density fiberboard, not medium density fiberboard. If they are good, i am happy to use them, but we'd probably be due a credit from the GC for not going with Simpson MDF solid core. Masonite also makes an MDF door, but it is stile and rail construction, not molded. That would be considerably more than the Masonite doors in the brochure he gave us.

Decisions, decisions....

oh'mike 05-16-2012 08:46 PM

The MDF doors hold paint better than solid wood doors--wood expands and contracts,leaving paint cracks where the panels meet the stiles and rails--Just one more thing to think about.

ElizaWhyza 05-16-2012 08:55 PM

Good point on the paint. I have experience with the paint cracking from the expansion, and I don't like it!

ddawg16 05-17-2012 01:15 AM

A lot depends on how long you think you will keep the house.

One of the issues (I don't want to call it a problem), is that houses are turning into fashion statements....akin to how people view clothes. When clothes go out of style...people toss them and get the latest. Same thing with, it's open spaces....tomorrow, people are going to be putting doors betwen every room.

MDF doors work fine...they are easy to paint....but will they hold up 50 years? I really doubt it. My house is 60 years old. The bedroom doors are still in very good shape...yea, they need to be taken down and striped....but at least we can do that...MDF door? You toss it and buy another one.

For us...the issue right now is that we 'like' the look of real wood...not just the texture, but the can't stain an MDF door.

It all comes down to what you long you want to keep it....and how much you want to pay for it.

As for ball bearing hinges? Why?

Remember my 60 year old doors? They still have the 60 year old hinges...working just fine......and WD40 is your friend.

woodworkbykirk 05-17-2012 07:29 PM

ive hung solid mdf, mdf core solid doors with a pine, cherry, maple veneer. along with solid pine doors

the solid pine doors will have crisper edges with the routered edges same with the veneered ones, they will hold screws better as opposed to the mdf ones where the screws can strip out the wood. also if you plan on staining a veneered door you wont always get a even finish as the glues that are used to adhere the veneer to the mdf core can blead through and cause a blotchy finish in the stain

no matter what type you use pay close attention to the edges of the doors, whether or not they have a lean already on them, meaning hte edge of the door should have a 3-5 degree bevel on them to make the operation of the door more smooth. when it comes time to hang the door if your using wood the door should be about 1/4" smaller in width than the opening to allow for a coat of primer and 2 coats of paint. with the mdf door it will soak up alot more primer and paint so you should have the door 5/16" smaler than the jamb opening as the door will become wider with the extra paint

ElizaWhyza 05-18-2012 07:25 AM

clear as mud :-)
This is all great information! In thinking about the ball bearing hinges, I was told it was about $20 bucks per hinge, but I forgot to multiply by 3 to get the price per door. I think since we're getting 1 3/8" doors. it would be overkill. Also, we're using oil rubbed bronze hinges, so any dust from the rubbing won't show as much!

Bottom line, our spec allows for Simpson or approved equivalent MDF doors, which are not cheap. (around $300, I think?) We think we just want a four panel, colonial looking door, so since we aren't choosing anything out of the ordinary, maybe we should go with wood doors, and use the money saved for cool hardware, or something else for that matter. We've done a lot of quality things in this remodel, including cedar roof, hardie shingle on the front of the house, and smooth plank elsewhere, azek corner boards, & simulated divided light windows with spacer bars (not sure I'd do the spacers again, nice but not necessary). It's a rambling 3-sectioned cape cod style house with three doghouse dormers on two of the sections, cupola on top of the garage, a portico and covered porch over the front door and right side of the house. We do intend to stay for a long time, but I don't like spending money for stuff that doesn't deliver much better aesthetics or added function.

One thing I noticed in the masonite molded doors is that the raised panel is as thick as what the stile would be if there really was a stile, and I'd prefer that the panel be a little thinner, like in a traditional real wood door.

So, as I sit here thinking about this, part of me thinks "get over it, girl, don't you know there are people starving all over the world as you sit and obsess over your silly doors", but I can address that after I make this door decision. :-)

Based on the look we are going for here, together with the fact that the style of door we want is not a reinvention of the style wheel, if you can weigh in on the following, I would be most grateful:

1) go with the spec, Simpson or equivalent MDF solid core.
2) go with a molded door that has some authentic details (do you know of makers other than masonite who make a door that looks traditional and has crisp edges, or one with wood veneer on the side edge where the lock is?)
3) go with wood, and if so, would you consider 1 3/4" thickness for resistance to warping
4) to throw a monkey wrench into things, there is an MDF door I saw online that is a plank door with no frame around it, so it looks like an 18th century style door. I haven't seen the back of it, so it may not have the cross braces that the true old ones did, but I don't care about that so much. In my opinion that type of door could look cool in my upstairs where there are four bedrooms and two baths. (Master is on first floor). If I chose that style for up there, it would have a cottage look, which from a resale perspective down the line could turn some people off. On the other hand, it would be a throwback to even the fourties or fifties when people built cape style houses.

Thank you all so much for what you've already shared with me of your experience and perspective! I have not been giving back much to this forum, but I promise I will! Suffice it to say that there are many things going on in my life that are very time consuming at the moment, but I really enjoy being part of something in which people help each other to make better choices!

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