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Choosing Wood

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It’s a minefield! There are no two ways about it. Choosing the right hardwood for your front and garage doors is one of the trickiest decisions you’ll have to make. You don’t just have to think about the colours and what suits the exterior or interior of the house, you also have to consider the outlook, weathering, performance and cost.

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Here at Urban Front, we’d probably recommend that you avoid trying to match your front door hardwood to the internal decoration of your hall or internal doors or even to your windows and garage. If thought of carefully, the front door can have its own independent character.  It always surprises our customers when a door is actually fitted, how little this matters. It is fundamental; however to think about matching to brick or render or cladding and also style of house.
We always ask whether the house has cladding – which narrows the decision down slightly but still isn’t straightforward. It’s quite popular to have Western Red Cedar cladding, but then you have to think about whether or not you are going to allow it to silver.  Treated WRC cladding will match a Western Red Cedar door as long as it is finished in the same way; however, WRC is a soft wood and therefore can mark easily when used for a front door. The closest match to it is Iroko and therefore a good choice because of its weathering qualities and undoubtedly its cost.   You may however, not wish to match at all, and are quite happy to have greying cladding with  European Oak or even Wenge.  This is also a very popular way to provide contrast and attract attention to an entrance.

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The question of durability is similarly crucial.  For instance, with American Black Walnut we recommend that an overhang is in situ, since the characteristics of this wood mean it is more likely to stain black if it isn’t maintained properly.  And let’s face it, not all of us will keep up with the maintenance of our doors as much as we’d like to.  Another concern is extreme weathering.  Is your door facing the sea, south facing, or prone to getting a lot of sun and rain?  Some hardwoods are better suited to these extreme conditions. European Oak and Iroko, for instance, perform very well and can withstand some tough weathering.

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Furthermore, the style of house and colour of brick or render can influence the choice of wood to a large degree. The more red a brick the less likely you would match it to Iroko, for instance, which is quite red itself.   White or cream render lends itself to nearly any colour wood but then on the other hand if the windows are a different colour like grey or green you’d need to consider this when choosing the wood too. A very popular colour-way at the moment is white render with dark grey windows and a European Oak door.  Here three colours that work fortunately together create a stylish effect.   It certainly always helps to ask for samples and to physically try them next to the brick.
Another way to look at choosing the right hard wood, is to think of it as an impact on the design and go for something quite different like Fumed Oak. If not for the design statement, then you’d be choosing something this striking just to be unique!

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For such a natural product, wood is very versatile and you’d be surprised at its ability to blend in with various colours, textures and finishes. I personally think, it really is gut feeling! The first wood that seems right to you would probably be the right one to choose, just make sure it’s within budget and works within some of the guidelines above!
Choosing the right wood may be challenging, but it’s certainly worth the end result!

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