One of the biggest downfalls of wood doors that are often cited is that these doors do not last as long as steel doors. Wood doors, of course, can develop rot over time, and the wood may crack and bow. However, this does not have to be the case. If you choose wisely when buying a wood door, you can pick one that lasts decades with proper maintenance. Here are the qualities to look for in a wooden replacement door.
The lower-end, less expensive wooden doors are typically 3/4 inch thick. These doors will work well for a few years, but they may eventually bow and warp. Higher-end, better-made wood doors are 1 3/8 inch, or sometimes even 1 1/2 inch thick. The thicker wood is much less prone to damage and will last much longer, making these doors well worth the higher cost.
Engineered Wood Core
Homeowners often assume wood doors will be made from solid pieces of wood. Some certainly are, but the most durable wood entry doors are actually made with an engineered wood core. This core is basically particle board. It is covered with thinner veneers of natural wood. The natural wood is what you see, but since it's carefully attached to the engineered wood core, there's room for the wood to expand and contract a little without anything cracking. This is especially important in temperate climates where the temperature and humidity change with the seasons.
For an entry door, you want to pay close attention to the finish used on the wood. You definitely want an oil-based or wax-based finish. Many door manufacturers today are using a type of finish called two-part penetrating oil. This type of finish seeps into the outer layers of the wood and forms a waterproof barrier, offering the wood extensive protection against the elements. A door with an oil-based or wax-based finish is less likely to develop rot or mold, and it's less likely to be eaten by insects that enjoy rotting wood. Stay away from doors painted with latex paint or acrylic; these finishes don't hold up as well on an entry door.
While a wooden entry door may never be as durable as a steel one, wood doors are not all weak and flimsy. If you love the look of wood, you can find a great entry door with thick, engineered panels and an oil-based finish.