Unless you are planning on living in a house where privacy is non-existent and you’re intending on residing in one large open plan expanse, then you will be requiring internal doors for your self-build or renovation project.

Internal doors have been dividing rooms since the dawn of building and with the increase in suppliers has come the increased considerations homeowners need to undertake before they make a purchase. No longer just functional products which make up the fabric of a house, selecting a traditional or contemporary style comes into play, as does the decision of whether to buy them on a door-only basis or as a complete doorset with ironmongery in place, and how the door is constructed in the first place — all of which will be driven by price.

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How much should I budget for internal doors?

The price of internal doors varies greatly depending on three key factors: material, construction quality, and whether you’re buying a single door or a doorset. At the cheaper end of the scale, if you are buying on a door-only basis you would be looking at paying between £50-£200 per door — budgeting a further £30-£40 per door for handles, latch and hinges.

For doorsets, to show how greatly prices can vary, companies such as JELD-WEN offer sets ranging between £90-£300, while the likes of Urban Front advertise doorsets starting at £1,200. Ideally you’ll want them to last, and are less likely to change your internal doors than opt for a new kitchen, so think about investing in quality doors and prioritise your budget accordingly

What’s the difference between hollow and solid timber doors?

The key difference between hollow and solid doors is the way they are constructed, which affects the price as a result.

“A hollow two-skin door has air spaces within the core, it is less robust, lighter in weight and usually cheaper,” explains Martin Hile of JB Kind. “Doors with a higher price point will usually have a solid core construction and a prefinished timber veneer.”

“Those with an engineered timber core are by far the best option, as they are less likely to twist or change shape than standard wood when conditions change throughout the year,” says Deuren’s Ian Chubb. “Ordinarily, lighter equates to cheaper, so homebuilders might expect to pay from £30 upwards for a standard size door with a hollow core. The price tag on heavier products is understandably higher, but with good reason — there is no substitute for a well crafted, premium quality, solid door.”

The fabric of solid doors also provides better sound and thermal insulation, with insulative properties running through the core of the door.

This internal door is from Urban Front

Urban Front’s Raw Internal doorset

How do I decide on a style?

“We find that homeowners want the internal doors on the ground floor to be special, but are not as bothered with the doors upstairs as guests don’t see them,” explains Elizabeth Assaf, Designer at Urban Front. “For most people it’s about creating that wow-factor when you walk through the entrance and matching these doors to the architrave, frame and even flooring too. People have changed the way they think about doors and adjust their budget accordingly.”

Achieving this wow-factor can be done in many ways, from cross-directional grains and different timber and colour options, glazed inserts to allow light to flow throughout the home, as well as how the doors open out or into a room. “Pocket door systems are rapidly increasing in popularity, due to their stylish look and space-saving advantages,” adds Martin Hile of JB Kind.

Frameless doors are becoming a popular option for those seeking a modern look too, as Urban Front’s Designer Elizabeth Assaf explains: “Those living in contemporary houses are more likely to choose frameless doors, but these are more expensive as they have to be made with an invisible frame and shadow gap — this style is most suited to those who want the door to be part of the fabric of the house and not attract attention.”

This needs to be planned at the design stage however to ensure the wall is built so that the junction between the wall and the door is perfect. “An architrave is used to cover up untidy edges, so you will need someone who specialises in building this type of wall,” advises Martin Hile, Commercial Director at JB Kind.

With modern houses increasingly featuring higher ceilings, designers and architects are starting to realise that internal door heights also need to be enhanced to maintain proportion with the room. So, taller oversized doors are becoming more popular too.

However, going from a standard-sized door to a bespoke, oversized one will be reflected in the price — especially if you’re specifying a full-height 2.4m-high door, as this will also require stronger hinges or pivot hinges. If you’re renovating, the opportunity to choose over-sized doors will be limited unless you widen the structural opening. However, if you have a blank canvas and factor it into the wall construction phase, there is much more freedom and scope for interior doors to become focal design features.

Should I choose a doorset?

When buying doors you will be faced with the choice of whether you buy the door on its own or as a doorset — you should be clear with the supplier which you are after from the outset. If you’re simply buying a door, you’ll be buying a door leaf, whereas a doorset includes the door leaf, the door lining (also referred to as a frame or casing) and architrave (designed to cover the gap between the door, wall and lining), plus hinges, locks, latches and so on (the handle may or may not be supplied).

“There’s a big difference between off-the-shelf doors as you will then have to pay for the frame, hardwear and everything else on top, plus extra for a carpenter to hang the doors which can also lead to mistakes being made,” says Elizabeth Assaf, Designer at Urban Front.

Besides the benefits of having a whole system with reduced labour costs to install, doorsets also benefit from accuracy and speed of installation, but if you are carrying out a renovation project then you may consider buying single doors on a supply-only basis — especially if you already have a carpenter on site.

“Doorsets lend themselves well to new openings but separate doors can be best if you’re carrying out a refurbishment as the frames will already be in place. It depends how much work you want to get involved with, as ripping out frames can be problematic if you don’t know what lies underneath. When fitting a standard door it’s just a case of measuring the opening, bearing in mind the floor level, and hanging new hinges plus the new door,” says Chris Miller, Product Manager at JELD-WEN.

If you’re opting to remove the door lining and architrave in an existing home, it’s important to remember to measure the opening and not just the door itself. “It’s best to measure wall to wall – top, middle and bottom width – in order to get the most accurate measurement, and the same with height: middle and each side,” explains Ian Chubb, founder of door specialist Deuren.

“Check if you need to allow any tolerance with your supplier too. There’s nothing more irritating than an ill-fitting door – especially when it’s been designed to the wrong specifications – so employing an expert [your builder, carpenter and so on] to get it right is undoubtedly worth it.”

This oak ledged door is from Howdens Joinery

This Solid Rustic Oak ledged door from Howdens Joinery features tongue and groove joints with glued and nailed ledges. It comes ready for finishing with varnish, stain or Osmo Oil

What should I do about fire doors?

Fire doors are usually required when the property is more than two storeys – fire doors may be required when a loft is converted, for example, to meet Building Regulations requirements – and/or if the garage is integral. Many suppliers have noticed an uptake in converting their standard doors into fire doors, particularly on more vulnerable rooms such as kitchens.

“This is purely for peace of mind; it’s not a requirement for every door to be a fire door except doors which are en route of escape,” says Chris Miller, Product Manager at JELD-WEN. “Fire doors contain a fire-tested core but it is the associated parts such as fire hinges which allow the fire door to work efficiently. The doors also feature an intumescent strip which swells as a reaction to heat and forms a seal around the door and frame, and will come with either a 30 or 60 minute protection.”

Expect to pay between 10-20 percent more for a fire door.

This internal door is from Benchmarx

Benchmarx’s Glazed Pine SA77 door features 15 panels and is reversible

Should I avoid buying online?

While the evolution of online shopping has opened up a world of opportunity for homeowners taking on building projects, and allows you to purchase goods easily, it also carries an element of risk. Online imagery can be deceptive, especially when the doors are on the cheaper side, so it is perhaps better to view the doors in person first, or at least have a good understanding of what’s included.

“With online products, lead times can range from a few days up to the standard eight weeks for normal doors, depending on where they are coming from,” advises Elizabeth Assaf of Urban Front. “It’s very important to inspect doors on delivery immediately. It is also a good idea to check if the doors can be altered in size as some are easy to adjust while others aren’t.”

When should I buy internal doors?

For internal doors to have real impact within a homebuilding project, they should be considered in two separate phases. Firstly, a decision about the sizing and configuration of your doors should be made as early as the architectural plans are drawn up. Take pocket doors as an example — the cassette into which pocket doors slide will need to be built into the wall, so it’s helpful to know these requirements before the walls go up. This way, the openings will be perfectly sized and no disruptive alterations will need to be made when it comes to fitting them.

Secondly, the finish of the doors should be considered at the same time as the rest of the interior design scheme. It’s natural for ideas to change throughout the planning and building process, so factoring in the aesthetics at the start allows for these to develop. Of course, there is so much to consider with a homebuilding project, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing doors right at the close of a project, but it’s important to be aware that there are limitations when this approach is taken.

How do I install internal doors?

Most standard doors can be installed on a DIY basis, but the time it takes largely depends on the type of product being installed. The task of installing a new door where there is not an existing lining and architrave involves fitting the lining and architraves, painting them, planing down an oversized door to make it fit, hanging it and then adding the door handles and latches. You may need to paint or finish the door if you’ve bought a primed or untreated model, too. The process can take the best part of a day. It’s often more cost effective to ask your carpenter to undertake the task for you. (Fitting a door to an existing opening will obviously take less time.)

Doorsets, on the other hand, provide a more time-effective alternative, with arguably a superior end result. The door is already pre-fixed to the lining as part of manufacturing process, so only the architraves may need adding and cutting down to size, and the handles added. All the necessary alterations and finishing take place in the factory rather than on site.

“The length of [installation] time can vary between one to two hours,” says tradesman Martin Cavender of MJC Carpentry and Joinery. “This also depends on the type of handles, locks or latches being fitted.”

It may be worth factoring in the cost of all the separate components and the labour associated with installing a door leaf before ruling out a doorset.

What are the most common mistakes to avoid?

“The main mistakes homeowners make are that they do not consider doors as part of their interior fit-out budget, they do not measure the door sizes required correctly, and do not install and treat/finish the doors correctly,” says Martin Hile, Commercial Director at JB Kind.

“Another common mistake is that people don’t think about which way the door is going to open — whether it will open into or out of the room and whether it will be hung left or right. You also need to make sure you leave enough space for the door to open out to. Homeowners should spend more time getting these things right at the beginning. Sometimes it’s worth living in the house first to really consider how you want to enter different rooms and what space is available — it’s not as simple as just choosing a door, you need to think about so much more,” says Elizabeth Assaf, Designer at Urban Front.

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