Leaded Glass Mahogany Exterior Door

What type of wood is the best for my exterior front door?

When it comes to selecting the best wood for exterior doors, there are several things that you need to consider.

First, what is the overall look you are trying to achieve? Is the style of your home formal and elegant, or do you desire a more rustic, old looking style?

Secondly, consider the climate and exposure where your front door will be located. Certain species of wood perform better in certain climates and exposures.

Lastly, think about the other building materials located on the front of your home. If you have some cedar accent beams, then you might want to consider a cedar door that could be stained to the same color as your beams.

The design experts at Doors by Decora have been helping our customers with these questions for years and will be happy to help you walk through the design process. Below, we will give a short explanation of the main wood species that we use in our door construction so you can determine the best wood for exterior doors.

Mahogany for Exterior Front Doors

Solid and rich in color, mahogany wood doors add sophistication to your home. Mahogany is one of the most reliable materials for exterior door construction.

Mahogany has a straight, fine, and even grain. It can range in color from pale pink to reddish brown. The color often darkens and grows richer over time. It has excellent workability, and is very durable making it an excellent choice in the best wood for exterior doors debate.

Mahogany is also an extremely durable wood. It has been the standard in exterior doors for a very long time. Mahogany doors are resistant to both insects and and wood rot. With proper maintenance, you can expect your mahogany doors to last several generations.

While some species of mahogany are endangered, the species that we use is not. You can trust that most of our Mahogany comes from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

craftsman double shaker style door, mahogany exterior front door
Old World Rustic double radius doors made from Spanish Cedar featuring decorative door hardware.

Spanish Cedar For Exterior Front Doors

Cedar is one of the world’s most robust wood species, as it naturally resists decay and maintains its stability, even in particularly harsh environments.

The color of cedar varies from light to dark reddish-brown, and its texture varies from fine to course. Cedar is an aromatic wood, and it provides a pleasing odor that not only smells good, but also repels most insects. Additionally, cedar tends to be a good insulator, so it generally helps keep houses warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Cedar is one of the world’s most durable wood species. This type of wood possesses natural preservatives that repel moisture, insects, and the growth of most fungi. Additionally cedar stands up exceedingly well to the elements, and it generally does not warp over time. When you maintain the finish of your door, you always extend the lifespan.

Although cedar is not a threatened species of wood, most of the cedar we purchase is from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

Walnut for Exterior Front Doors

Walnut is generally a rich dark or a black color with undertones of purple and has straight grain with intermittent curls or waves.

Walnut is a dense and sturdy wood species, walnut is popular among craftsmen and is utilized for a variety of different purposes.

Walnut is very durable, especially in terms of its resistance to rot and other deterioration.  This kind of wood also possesses good dimensional stability and strength.  However, a walnut entry door often fades when exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight.  By maintaining the finish of your door, you can help your walnut door resist fading.

Walnut is not a threatened species of wood but Doors by Decora still chooses to purchase most of our walnut from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

A walnut estate leaded glass wood door featuring textured privacy glass, shown here as an exterior front door.
Double contemporary single panel doors made from hand-picked oak, finished with modern door hardware.

Oak For Exterior Front Doors

There are approximately 600 species of oak! At Doors by Decora, we primarily build our doors out of two of those species, red oak and white oak.

Oak is very dense, creating great strength and hardness and making it a good choice for exterior doors. The wood is very recognizable by its distinct and visible grain.

This grain is even more beautiful and pronounced when the wood is quarter sawn. Because of its high tannin content, the wood is very resistant to insect and fungi attack.

Due to the wide and varying grain of this wood, it is very important that you maintain a good finish on your oak door.

Oak is not a threatened species of wood, but Doors by Decora still chooses to purchase most of our oak from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

Cherry for Exterior Front Doors

Cherry entry doors are smooth in texture, with a tight, clear grain that finishes beautifully and gives any home a sense of sophistication and refinement.

Cherry usually ranges in color from pinkish-brown to darker shades of reddish-brown. With exposure to the sun, cherry will additionally develop a dark, rich patina over time.

Classified as a hardwood, cherry is known for being dense and strong. Additionally, cherry’s exceptional moisture-resistance qualities hold a finish better than any other wood, and also help prevent shrinking and swelling.  Since its heartwood is both hard and durable, cherry exterior doors are highly resistant to rot or decay.  In the best wood for exterior doors debate, Cherry is a strong contender. All doors need maintenance, so make sure you check out our maintenance instructions.

Although cherry is not a threatened species of wood, Doors by Decora still chooses to purchase most of our cherry from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

French country doors with radius glass made from Cherry, shown here as double exterior front doors with satin finished door hardware.
Knotty alder exterior leaded glass rustic door and sidelites, shown here with dark satin door hardware.

Knotty Alder For Exterior Front Doors

If you are looking for a more rustic look for your front entry door, consider using knotty alder to help you achieve that look.

Alder has become a popular species for exterior door construction due to its pronounced grain and uniform texture. This versatile wood species features a fairly straight grain with areas of burl clusters and small knots. These marks add character and will provide a darker texture and color when the unit is stained and finished.

Similar in hardness to woods like pine, alder typically ranges in color from pale pinkish-brown to darker shades of reddish-brown. Overtime, with exposure to the sun, alder will additionally yellow and darken. Alder is classified as a softer hardwood, which means that it is more easily scratched or dented. Because of the relative softness, alder exterior doors are also less resistant to harsh or humid weather. By maintaining a good finish on your door, you can help your door resist the weather.

Although alder itself is not a threatened species of wood, Doors by Decora still chooses to purchase our most of our alder wood from sustainably grown and harvested forests.

Paint Grade Woods for Exterior Front Doors

All of the doors that we have discussed above feature unique and beautiful grains suited to staining and finishing. However, not every door needs to be stained.

Many homeowners choose to paint their wooden doors instead of staining them. There are many reasons you would choose to paint your door.

The most obvious is your selection of paint colors. If you can dream it, then you can paint it on your door. Painted doors give you the option to personalize your front entry like never before.

Another reason to consider painting your front door is for extra durability. While all of our stain options are beautiful and durable, nothing is quite as durable as a good coat of paint. If you have an exposure that will see a lot of sun and weather, then a painted door may be the way to go for you.

When it comes to selecting the best wood for exterior doors, a paint grade wood will be less expensive and with a good coat of paint, very durable. Even paint will eventually require maintenance so read this article to make sure you understand how to achieve the longest life for your exterior front door.

A Doors by Decora custom exterior painted solid door featured in Southern Living magazine, aka the southern living door.

Make Your Front Doors Last Longer With These Maintenance Tips

Now that you know the best wood for exterior doors, don’t forget about maintenance. No matter which species of wood you choose for your exterior front door, a little maintenance goes a long way in helping your door last longer.

Don’t worry. We’ve made it easy to keep your front door in looking and working great. Hop over to our suggested door maintenance article and be sure to reach out if we can help make your dream door a reality. We’ve proudly helped homeowners, designers, architects, and builders design, build, and install beautiful, custom wood front doors of nearly any size, style, and finish for more than 50 years. Call us or use the form below to let us know how we can serve you.

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