A common query we have about our hardwood doors is exposure. How does exposure affect the maintenance and the longevity of a hardwood door and what do I need to know?
To help answer these questions, we've developed a table showing the different aspects of exposure. A good place to start is to ask yourself these questions:
1. Where is the entrance to the house, is it south/north/west/east? Does it get a lot of rain/sun? South facing for instance means that the door will probably get more sun than a north facing door. If that's the case, and the door has no canopy or protection, it is important to make sure the door is finished to withstand weathering and is the correct door type for it's position. So, a pivot door would not be suitable for a completely exposed location and the door should be finished in a lacquer unless you want to be finishing it with oil every few months.
2. Will your design allow for a canopy/ porch to protect the door? Is the door set back? If a door is set back with a large overhang, then it doesn't really matter what it is as it probably wont get any sun or rain. However, if the door has only 500mm of overhang, then it would get rain and sun on the bottom half of the door more than the top and would weather more on that part only. Making sure the entrance has a good enough overhang and that it's protecting the whole of the door is a good way to keep maintenance to a minimum.
3. What are the best harwoods for that exposure? For example, some hardwoods bleach and others go darker with exposure to UV rays. Knowing how you want your door to look in a few years time and not just after it's made is essential. For example, Fumed Oak is a very dark brown wood that bleaches and becomes much lighter after a few months of sun- to preserve it's color it would need to be stained as well as lacquered or oiled.
Also good to note is that if a door is stained a very dark color and is exposed to too much sun, it could cause cracking due to dark colors attracting heat. In this instance, choosing a painted door would be a better option.
4. What is the best finish to use? Finish does depend on the amount of maintenance you'd like to do. If your house is by the sea, and it is exposed to salt and moisture, you are better off with something that prolongs the life of the door and its finish - for example, RAL opaque colour. Oiling can be a beautiful finish but even though it is easier to maintain its definitely going to need more work if your door is in a high exposure position - possibly up to once every few months. Please go to our Oiling and Lacquering Blog if you'd like to read more about this.
5. What happens if I have a bespoke door? How do I know how to protect it correctly? If your door is a Flush doorset, has specialist locking, or a specialist pivot, it is essential to follow the manufacturers guidelines on exposure. If you are unsure always ask. For example, flushdoorsets are not suitable for an exposed location due to maintenance and ensuring performance.