Terms to Know Before Shopping for Wood Doors

One of the benefits that we have at Nick’s Building Supply is that we get to know many of our customers. We do this by providing support and assistance in their door order, or in helping them to design the perfect custom wood doors for their new home or home renovation.

When you understand the terms that wood door manufacturers are using, or what sales professionals may be saying if you are looking at home supply stores or building outlets, you will be able to ask questions and see the difference in the quality, design and features of the doors.

To help clarify some issues, here are the most common terms you will hear when talking about any type of wood doors for the home, garage or for commercial buildings.

  • Paint grade – paint grade doors will arrive with a coat of primer, but not actually painted. They are still constructed of top quality wood, but the grain of the wood and the patterns are not carefully selected to match since they won’t be visible under the paint.
  • Lites – lites, or lights, are planes of glass or “windows” in the door. These can be large and take up the complete center panel of the door, or they can be small and add character and the ability to see out.
  • Hardware – these are the door knobs, handle sets, hinges and locking mechanisms. The hardware is selected to coordinate with the door and it is purchased separately with quality doors.
  • Swing – this is the way the door opens, either to the left or the right. It is always reported from the way the door opens when standing on the outside of the door facing the door. Right hand opens to the right, left hand opens to the left.
  • Sidelites – also written as sidelights, these are the additional matching narrow wood and lite combinations that are on one or both sides of the door. They can be operable or decorative only.
  • Transom – this is the additional overhead component to the door. It is predominantly glass to bring in additional natural light and to add a style and dimension to the door design.
  • Rails and stiles – this is only used in some types of doors. Rails and stiles refer to the frame and cross pieces around the recessed panels in a door design. These are common in the Mission, Shaker and even the Craftsman styles of doors.

If you have any questions about door terminology, just get in touch with our staff at Nick’s Building Supply. We would be happy to answer your questions so you can make an informed choice in wood doors.