Summary: Solid Wood Core Doors:
- Better fire ratings than hollow core.
- Cheaper than solid wood doors.
- Have a better swing (feel better in the hand because they are heavier) than hollow core.
- Keep sound at bay.
A hollow core door feels light-weight and almost insubstantial in your hand, whereas solid core doors close with greater effort and feel, well, like a door should feel: solid, impervious to noise.
Hollow core doors are not truly hollow. Sandwiched between a thin plywood exterior is a cardboard honeycomb. The cardboard serves little purpose other than to hold the plywood together and to act as a minor sound block.
Yet the interesting thing about solid core doors is that they are not one unified solid slab of wood. Three types of doors you may find that impart solidity:
- Wood Panel Door: This classic wood panel door looks and feels solid, but what is it? One type often found, the six panel door, has been around for ages and is constructed of discrete panels, mullions, stiles, and rails. When built and painted, a wood panel door looks like it could have been milled from a single piece of wood and its various indentations routed in. Not so.
- Solid Wood Door: Before 1949, building core mandated that solid wood doors be solid, unified slabs of wood. That changed as it became harder to log the big timber needed for single-slab doors, and code changed to include the following...
- Solid Core Door: The type we are discussing in this article, the solid core door looks like one or more large pieces of wood that may have been milled and planed straight from a single log. Rather, these are composite doors.
Solid Core: Wood, But Not What You May ThinkIn most cases, the solid core doors you buy will indeed be solid inside--not honeycombed cardboard--but solid with particleboard or fibercore. On both sides of this door is plywood, and over the plywood is real wood veneer.
Solid core doors are roughly twice the weight of hollow core doors. This makes for a slightly harder installation, but gives you years of far better performance over the hollow cores.
While it's not surprising that they are heavier than hollow core doors, you might find it interesting that these composite core doors are even heavier than solid wood doors. Particle wood is extremely dense material.
Should You Go Solid-Core?I am no fan of MDF, but even I would install a solid-core door. Unless your home has specific architectural requirements where it would need a solid wood door, then a solid core door is really the best way to get a substantial door at a reasonable price. With the luan or plywood covering plus the veneer (birch, oak, fir, beech, alder, etc.), it's difficult to tell that this is a fiberboard door. Additionally, real wood is used for the stiles and rails (the perimeter of the door), covering up the fiberboard ends.
Ohio-based Homestead Interior Doors offers solid-core (as well as custom-built solid wood) doors available online. Masonite, manufacturer of fiberwood, is also in the business of producing solid-core doors. Masonite doors are found at local building supply companies.