Is your hardwood door value for money?
Is your hardwood door value for money?

At Best Doors we had a visit recently from a gentleman who is hugely experienced and respected in the trade, Mr John Howell from IWood, a large UK timber merchants. It has been some time since we last saw John, who used to sell us our European white oak, being nearly two years since his last visit.

While he was at our workshop he took the time out to look at our latest product range and was very impressed – his immediate comment: “Your customers don’t realise the quality of your doors.”

Discussing his comments in more detail, John suggested we become more proactive at demonstrating this unrecognised quality to prospective customers, highlighting the differences between our contemporary front doors and those of our competitors. He also suggested we approach architects, who may appreciate the quality of our products when specifying doors for high-end properties.

Our feeling for some time has been that our doors are undervalued against many of our competitors’ doors that while looking similar are constructed very differently. This is something that we can explain and demonstrate quite easily in the workshop, but the challenge is how to communicate this to people looking for a hardwood front door online, who are mainly reliant on pictures.

John suggested that we should cover the issue on our blog, so we will try to give a brief indication of what distinguishes our Premier door range from those available elsewhere. We actually developed this range in response to what we saw (and still see) as the poor standards of most engineered doors on the market today – customers buying these doors (from many of the biggest retailers in the country) are not getting the quality they are paying for.

What makes a good value wood door?

OK, down to the key facts. Our Premier doors use a core construction that is engineered oak laminated, with a 20x44mm thick lipping and a veneer that’s 2.5mm (versus just 0.6mm of veneer for most of the competition).

What does this mean to you, the customer? Well the more generous lipping means that the door can be scribed into an existing door frame more easily. There is a greater margin for alteration before the door needs to be re-lipped, making it an easier fit, particularly for older character properties where door openings are not always very square or a uniform size. If you are unable to properly re-lip and seal a door that isn’t supplied with a sufficiently thick lipping then the door will take on moisture, making it swell and possibly warp out of shape.

The thicker veneer, over 4x as deep as on many competing doors, gives a hardier, more durable door, which will withstand more punishment and look better, for longer than an inferior equivalent with a thin layer of surface wood. We believe that your hardwood door should look good for years to come, not be a disposable item to be replaced because the surface has been damaged.

For the core of our Premier doors we use oak, which is more stable than the softwood used in mass-market doors. You might think “Out of sight, out of mind” – you cannot see the core, so what difference does it make what kind of wood it is made from? Softwood is very fast growing and less dense than a slow-growing hardwood such as oak; this means that it is more prone to twisting and warping than a door with an oak core, reacting far more to the presence of any moisture.

Using quality frames

As well as the quality of the door itself, an important point to consider is the frame it is fitted to. We strongly believe that cheap, low quality flatpack frames are a false economy when compared to a hardwood bespoke frame. Quite frankly, most flatpack frames do not have the substance to take the weight of our Premier door range.

The quality of construction of many of the hardwood front doors on the market has been the result of significant price competition between door manufacturers and retailers. Constantly undercutting each other on price has unfortunately seen standards fall and it is ultimately the consumer who is losing out. The old adage ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ is all too often true, but people are often paying a premium price for a budget product as they are not able to distinguish between the two.

There are lower priced doors than our Premier range, but we firmly believe there are none in the country that offer better value. Most people would agree that for the front entrance of your home it is worth investing in quality.

Please note that we do not, and would not, point fingers at any particular company; these observations are from what we see being on the ground floor on a daily basis.

Our next blog will be weighing up Part L Doors and seeing if these energy rated choices are a good option for the average consumer. Watch this space.