If you’re building or have built a custom home, you know that the builder you choose largely impacts the project’s success and your level of satisfaction with your home. It’s no different when selecting a company to design and build your custom doors.
You want custom doors in your entryway that look beautiful and function perfectly — and that are professionally installed at the cost you planned for.
Knowing what to ask and look for is key in selecting the right door company to make your custom door a reality. In this article, we’ll share things you should know before hiring a door manufacturer and buying a custom door. We’ve been building custom doors for over 40 years, and we believe our experience and knowledge can help you.
10 Things to Know When Buying Custom Doors for Your Home
First, Door Dealer or Door Manufacturer?
Let’s start with some terms that are important to understand. What’s the difference between a door dealer and a door manufacturer?
Door dealers are most interested in selling doors they have in their inventory. The majority of door manufacturers (also called door builders) are set up to mass produce doors and keep costs down by building everything to their standard designs. They are generally marketed through dealers, and they encourage all contact to come through the dealer. Some of these manufacturers are willing to make minor custom changes to a design if the changes don’t slow down their production. A true custom door manufacturer, however, builds every door to its own specs. But just as no two custom doors are exactly the same, neither are custom door manufacturers. We like talking with dealers and the homeowners, builders, decorators, or architects to help develop specifications for each project where we can share thoughts and experiences.
You should consider the following when selecting a door manufacturer for your custom doors.
Level of Customer Service and Education
When investing in a quality custom door, you deserve quality customer service throughout the entire process. Be sure you select a custom door manufacturer that is available and willing to talk to you to answer questions and help you make decisions along the way.
Personal attention is not too much for you to expect from a custom door manufacturer. The more experienced pros recognize how vital these conversations can be. As a matter of fact, we enjoy sharing information and educating our customers, so no one feels overwhelmed. Make sure you find someone who can answer questions based on both years of experience and knowledge of current trends in custom door design.
It’s essential to be able to trust the expertise and guidance you’re getting through every detail, such as choosing the right wood based on its exposure to the elements, your geography and climate or the correct sizing.
History of Building Custom Doors
Working with a door manufacturing company that has been designing and building doors for a long time offers you the benefit of years of experience, innovation, and perfecting of processes. And we certainly hope you’ll consider us as your solution.
For over 40 years, Doors by Decora has innovated the construction of quality custom wood doors – including the invention of floating panels that allow the wood to expand and contract without causing strain on the door or frame.
We also help customers avoid mistakes in cost, quality, and installation that are often made.
Involvement in the Door Design Process
Before you make a final decision, ask the door manufacturers you’re considering about their design process. How involved will you be in the process? How flexible are your options?
For us, many customers come to Doors by Decora with an idea, photo, or floor plans. We work directly with our customers to create custom drawings of their entryway, and we encourage conversations and feedback. You enjoy complete design flexibility as you choose each element of a custom door that’s right for your home.
We will provide you with a detailed drawing, and once approved, we build each customer’s door and entryway to the specifications of the drawing. We also provide stain samples to our customers for review with time for reflection. The results are quality-built wood custom doors based on each customer’s individual needs and specifications.
Build Capabilities and Craftsmanship of Custom Doors
Choosing an experienced custom door builder will bring a lot of expertise and options to your door project. For example, Doors by Decora can build a fully custom door in any size, style, and finish in our facility.
We also offer in-house glass artisans to design and incorporate custom glass (leaded, beveled, textured, stained) for any size and configuration.
If possible, visit the door manufacturer’s showroom to see the quality of craftsmanship for yourself. Your custom door should be a work of fine craftsmanship built with attention to detail and a perfect fit and finish that provides long-lasting elegance.
Wood Selection for Custom Doors
What types of wood are available to use for your custom door? Are custom doors available with paint-grade and stain-grade woods? Does the manufacturer have extensive knowledge of wood qualities to help you choose the right wood for your entryway?
The answers to these questions can ensure you have a stunning and functional entryway for years to come.
For example, we hand-pick each piece of kiln-dried wood for proper grain and ensure that the wood’s moisture content is maintained between 6% and 8%. By doing so, warping and splitting are virtually eliminated.
We prefer woods like Mahogany, Knotty Alder, Spanish Cedar, Northern Red Oak, Walnut, Maple, and Antique Heart Pine because of their qualities and character when finished. Or if you have your heart set on another hardwood, we’ll help you make that happen.
If you prefer a paint-grade door, we advise our clients to use hardwood such as maple instead of pine or fir for lasting durability.
Custom Door Finish Selection
Your custom doors can be delivered finished or unfinished. Though most customers prefer to have their doors stained and finished, be sure to ask manufacturers about your options.
The quality of the stain and finish and how it is applied also matters. At Doors by Decora, we offer an innovative “stain seep.” This curved edge on both our fixed and removable stop allows the stain to seep behind this stop. This eliminates raw wood showing when raised panels expand and contract.
We believe attention to small details like these offer homeowner satisfaction and significantly impact appearance and curb appeal.
Hardware Selection and Quality for Custom Doors
Many door manufacturers offer hardware for your custom doors. Ask about hardware selection and warranties.
Quality hardware is often the element that finishes off the “right look” while ensuring the entryway is secure and functions properly for years to come.
Needed door hardware often includes handle sets, doorknobs, multi-point locks as well as hinges and door knocker accessories and sometimes panic hardware. We have a hardware specialist on staff to help you with these options. We are a dealer for all major brands and can help you select the brand, style, and finish for the hardware to be installed on your door.
Availability of Customer Testimonials
If customer testimonials aren’t available on the door manufacturer’s website, be sure to ask for them.
Knowing that past customers were happy with their custom doors is a good indicator that you will be too.
Doors by Decora has testimonials on our website, with many more available by request. We may also have installed custom doors in your town that you can see.
Ask about Warranties for Custom Doors
Finally, you want to make sure your custom door is built by a company that stands behind their work.
Before selecting a door manufacturer, consider the warranty or guarantee they offer on their custom doors. We like to call our warranty a “Do Right Warranty”.
We hope sharing our experience makes your custom door project a success!
If you’d like a custom quote from Doors by Decora for your entryway, use the form below to send us details or call us at (800) 359-7557.