You have many decisions to make when it comes to upgrading an older home. While budget and home insurance are usually thought of early on, one of the little details that few homeowners think about is the construction of their interior doors. After all, what is the big deal about doors that stay open most of the time?
Well, in many ways, choosing the right kind of interior door for your home is an important task. Stylish interior doors enhance the ambiance of your humble abode, as well as provide functional benefits such as trapping heat in winter and the cool air that blows out of an air conditioner during summer.
Choosing the right interior doors often boils down to two options: Solid-core and hollow-core. Let’s see how the two heavyweights match up in a tale of the tape.
What Are the Factors to Consider When Choosing Interior Doors?
According to the door experts at ETO doors, there are several important factors to consider when making decisions about the right doors for your home.
Wood can provide an elaborately designed, naturally created pattern that gives your house a more rustic, comfortable feel. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) requires less maintenance, but it does not exude the panache of natural wood.
When it comes to selecting the right door color, think “synergy”. You want painted interior doors to blend seamlessly with the design theme of your home, rather than stick out like a sore thumb. However, there is an argument to be made for a door that stands out tastefully. Take a red door, for example.
Do you want every interior door to include a lock? If you want locks on most or all of the doors, should you go with deadbolts, padlocks, hand levers, or another type of lock? What material do you want the doorknobs to be?
You have endless options when selecting panel design. From a single panel to multiple panels stacked in two columns, you can customize each interior door with a unique pattern that matches the décor of different rooms.
Slab or Pre-Hung
A slab door requires more work because you must hang and install it. On the other hand, a pre-hung interior door attaches to a door frame consisting of three sides. If you want the convenience of a pre-hung door, you can expect to pay more for it.
Solid-Core vs. Hollow-Core
Now, between the two, which type of door is the best for your house: solid core or hollow-core?
Manufacturers design and construct hollow-core doors using a thin layer of wood or MDF that is placed over a plastic or cardboard core. The word “hollow” is a bit misleading because hollow-core doors have a core. Yet, the core does not provide as much support as the support provided by a solid-core door. This type of door often is used to save money on the installation of a large number of interior doors for a commercial property.
Homeowners operating on tight home improvement budgets can turn to hollow-core doors to save money for other projects. Lightweight, these doors take little effort to install and maintain. The frame and plastic or cardboard core produce some structure to the door, but not as much structure as offered by a solid-core door.
If you are considering installing hollow-core doors in your house, you should weigh the advantages against the disadvantages.
- Rarely warps
- Lightweight material makes it easy to install
- Does a poor job of blocking sound
- Inferior resistance to fire
- Exposed edges
- Structurally weaker than a solid-core interior door
The adage, “You get what you pay for,” is an appropriate adage when comparing hollow-core and solid-core interior doors. Solid-core doors cost more, but the extra cost is worth installing the doors for the interior of your home.
Manufacturers glue a top-grade surface wood over a solid core constructed with engineered wood like Masonite or MDF. Because of the layers of protection, you can use solid-core doors for both the interior and exterior doors that you plan to install. Multiple layers of protection create a rugged door that can handle the pounding delivered by an active household.
You receive excellent blockage of sound, which is an important factor if your household consists of young children. When the layer of protection extends at least 1 ¾ inches, solid-core doors offer much better fire protection than hollow-core doors. Manufacturers design and construct this type of door to resist the contraction and expansion caused by prolonged exposure to humid conditions.
- Cheaper than solid wood
- Does not warp
- Does a great job of blocking sound
- Resists fire
- Not as many design options when compared to solid wood
- Heavy materials
- Can be difficult to install
The Bottom Line
Solid-core interior doors fall between solid wood and hollow-core interior doors. Because of the multiple layers of protection, they are much more durable than hollow-core doors. If you live in an active household where the interior doors take a beating, then installing solid-core doors makes functional sense. They also do a better job of resisting fires and repelling humid conditions.
Hollow-core interior doors offer you an affordable way to divide the living areas of your home. Although not as structurally sound as solid-core doors, they do the job if they are installed in the right rooms. This is when the bottom line between installing solid-core and hollow-core doors is not really a bottom line.
You can save money and still enjoy functionality by installing a mix of hollow-core and solid-core interior doors. In rooms like bedrooms where sound is an issue, install solid-core doors. For rooms that do not see much traffic, install hollow-core doors.