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The 6 Panel Door

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Why Install the Classic 6 Panel Door in Your House?
6 Panel Door

6 Panel Door

© Lee Wallender; Licensed to About.com
The 6 panel door, often called a stile-and-rail door, gives your house instant style. This style of door has been around for hundreds of years, and is still in wide usage today. Do you want a six-panel door for your house? Let's look at some features first.
  1. Flexibility. The stile and rail construction provides some "give" to the door, allowing it to expand and contract with changes in humidity. This prevents cracking and splitting. We should note that many of the newer doors do have the 6 panel style, but are actually made of pressed hardboard or MDF. But is expansion/contraction a good thing? Read comments below from an expert on the matter of doors.
  2. Great Looks. Because of the "faceting" provided by the stiles, rails, and panels, the six panel door catches the light and produces attractive shadows. This gives the door a 3-D appearance that adds highlights to your room.
  3. Variety. Not all 6 panel doors are created equally. You will find panels and stiles with many different dimensions, giving each one a unique look.

Natural vs. Man-Made:  Expansion and Contraction, and Other Issues

Corrections were made to this article when a reader, who specializes in the sale of architectural windows and doors, noted the following below.

"I have never seen a pressed particleboard door, although they may exist. Typically, the doors that we sell that aren’t solid wood are either pressed hardboard (think Masonite® pegboard without the holes) or MDF. While hardboard doors are typically not architecturally correct, MDF doors from TruStile® or SUPA®--and others--are.

"In both cases, however, these paint grade, non solid-wood doors perform better than solid wood doors during climate changes such as from low to high humidity. Because, as I like to say, a piece of wood doesn’t forget it used to be a tree, wood retains its ability to absorb and expel moisture, causing the wood fibers to expand and contract. This is what causes doors to stick. It is also one of the reasons stile and rail doors are made with floating panels.

"Pressed hardboard and MDF doors, even those MDF doors which are true stile and rail doors, have the “advantage” of not expanding nearly as much as solid wood doors. In my home, I had wood 6 panel doors and solid core hardboard doors in the ground level, non climate controlled family room. Each summer, the wood doors would swell and become difficult to open & close while the Masonite doors operated perfectly. Additionally, non-wood doors don’t show unpainted wood when humidity levels cause the bare wood to be revealed. And, since these doors aren’t solid wood, they don’t crack and split.

"Finally, all doors that are not flush can be referred to as stile & rail doors, although it is more appropriate in a door made of separate components, rather than a pressed door."

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