Door Materials – 5 Types & Their Pros & Cons

Excerpts from an Expert > Door Materials – 5 Types & Their Pros & Cons

doorYou may think that a door is a door, but I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of different types of doors, and they all serve a different purpose.  If you use the wrong door for the wrong application, you, my friend, will have some maintenance issues on your hands.

Let’s walk through the five main types of door materials and walk through the pros and cons of each.

5 Door Materials

Hollow Metal

Hollow metal doors are very durable and are great for interior or exterior door applications.  They are made of cold rolled steel and can take a fair amount of abuse.  We often recommend using hollow metal for stock room doors where you are continually moving product in and out and potentially bumping into the door with stock carts.

Hollow metal doors are generally not affected by weather, making them ideal for exterior door applications; however, you need to ensure that you always have a good coat of paint on the door to keep rust at bay.

There are a few downsides to hollow metal doors.  I just mentioned the “R” word…rust.  Yes – hollow metal doors will eventually rust.  Also, due to the way they are constructed, their lack of insulation allows heat and cold to escape.  They are also limited in their design and finish, and if you need to disinfect the door, you may harm the finish in the process.

Stainless Steel

Much like hollow metal doors, stainless steel doors are great for both interior and exterior applications.

They have a leg up on hollow metal doors in the durability and weather/chemical resistance departments.  Due to stainless steel’s natural resistance to corrosion, these doors are great for high salt or chemical applications.  They are also not as prone to rust, and unlike hollow metal doors, stainless steel doors can be disinfected without affecting the finish of the door.  It is for this reason that stainless steel doors are often the door of choice for restaurants.

Similar to hollow metal doors, they aren’t very well insulated and are limited in design.  They are also more expensive than hollow metal doors.


Fiberglass doors are typically used for exterior door applications.

Unlike hollow metal and stainless steel doors, fiberglass doors have many different design options.  You can get fiberglass doors that look just like a wood door.  Pretty fancy, huh?  Like stainless steel doors, they can withstand chemicals and harsh environments very well, and they have the added bonus of being less expensive than stainless steel doors.

While fiberglass doors are durable, they are not as durable as stainless steel doors.  Also, if you need to disinfect the door, it will likely damage the finish.


Wood doors are primarily used for interior door applications.

Wood doors are probably some of the most beautiful doors on the market and have seemingly endless design and finish options.  You can go as basic as a flat door, or as ornate as panel doors with detailed carvings.  Due to the inherent properties of wood, these doors are great for dampening sound and don’t conduct heat and cold.  Also, as long as you aren’t ordering lavish designs or exotic wood species, wood doors tend to be more affordable.

While the inherent properties of wood bring a lot of benefits, there are also a few downsides.  Wood does not do well with changing climate conditions.  They can swell and warp if there are rapid climate changes or high humidity.  They also should not get wet and are very difficult to disinfect without damaging the finish.  It is for this reason that they are not recommended for exterior applications.


Laminate doors should only be used for interior door applications.

Contrary to popular opinion, laminate doors are actually very durable if they are properly manufactured.  The key to that statement is “properly manufactured.”  Stay away from doors that are laminated in the field.  The great thing about laminate doors is that they offer a wide variety of exotic designs at a very affordable price.  They are also very easy to clean and disinfect.

There are only a few downsides to laminate doors.  First, you can’t use them outside.  Second, if they are not properly manufactured or are field laminated, you can run into issues with peeling, chipping, and cracking.  If there are scratches or chips in the laminate, it is very difficult to aesthetically repair.

If you have any questions about what type wood door alternative makes sense for your facility, feel free to send us a note.  We’d be happy to help.

6 thoughts on “Door Materials – 5 Types & Their Pros & Cons

  1. When my wife and I moved into our new house a year ago we wanted to replace a lot of the older doors with new wood. It took a while to do, but like you said: wood doors are some of the most beautiful out there, and we like to think ours are no exception! Great advice on not going lavish with wood, as they do tend to be more affordable.

  2. I appreciate what you said about fiberglass doors being durable and that they can be customized more than stainless steel and metal security doors. I wonder how much having a glass window in the door affects the strength of the door and how well it insulates. Thanks for the tips, I’ll keep them in mind the next time I’m in need of a new security door.

  3. This is a great list of considerations to make in your door material. I hadn’t thought of the effect rust could have on a metal door if paint started wearing off in some areas. I think it’s important to pick a door that fits your home aesthetically as well as fits your maintenance preferences.

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