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Flush vs. Panel Doors

A door’s design contributes much to the overall scheme of a room and, indeed, an entire home. Flush doors do their function, but they bring little to the table as far as style goes. Panel doors, on the other hand, offer the look of fine craftsmanship while also allowing builders to customize a home’s interior. However, personal taste and price often dictate what kind of door surface to choose.

Flush doors are smooth-surfaced and generally cost less than panel doors because there is less wood and labor involved in making them. They are usually made up of thin sheets of veneer that cover a core of wood, particle board, or fiberboard. The veneer sheets act as stressed-skin panels and tend to prevent the door against warping. The veneer may be of un-graded hardwood suitable for a plain finish or chosen hardwood suitable for a natural finish. The appearance of flush doors can be enhanced by the application of plant-on decorative panels. Both hollow-core and solid-core doors typically have solid internal rails and stiles so that hinges and other hardware may be set in solid wood.

A panel door, or stile-and-rail door, has inset panel pieces that give a more elaborate, sectional look. For those homeowners that are concerned with aesthetics, paneled doors are better options. They consist of vertical members called stiles and horizontal members called rails. The stiles and rails enclose panels of solid wood, plywood, louvers, or glass. The rails and stiles are assembled with either glued dowels or mortise-and-tenon joints.

The stiles extend the full height of the door at each side. The stile near the hinged side of the door is called the hinge stile, and the one to which the latch or lock is attached is called the closing, or lock, stile. Three rails run across the full width of the door between the stiles. These rails are referred to as the top rail, the intermediate or lock rail, and the bottom rail. Additional vertical or horizontal members may divide the door into any number of panels. These additional members are referred to as muntins and they are also assembled with either glued dowels or mortise-and-tenon joints.

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