You have the perfect vision for your wood project — a new front door to welcome you home, a cupola to top off your party barn, or a gate to create the perfect picture entryway. Enthusiastically, you’ve had plans drawn up, but what is the next step? You’ll probably ask yourself, “What type of wood should I use for my project?”
Before you choose, let’s take a step back and learn a little bit more about the different types of wood available. Although we work with many different wood species here at Vintage Millwork and Restoration, we’ll focus on a few of our most popular: sapele mahogany, white oak, western red cedar, and knotty pine.
Hardwood versus Softwood
Wood is broken down into two main categories, hardwood and softwood. The main difference? According to Penn State Extension, hardwood trees lose their leaves annually whereas softwood trees retain their foliage year-round. We use both types of wood depending on the project.
Most of the hardwood we use grows in the eastern part of the United States and thrives in broad-leaved, temperate forests. It is commonly recognized by its distinguished annual rings, density, and gorgeous grain patterns. Hardwood takes time to grow and flourish to the size needed before harvesting and in the end, generally costs more. The sparsity of these wood species makes them even more desirable to use in projects.
Popular hardwood species are sapele mahogany, oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and teak. While there are a few ways to build with hardwood, we commonly use this wood for doors, stairs, and tack room accessory projects.
Two popular types of hardwood we mainly use in projects are sapele mahogany and white oak.
What Is Sapele Mahogany Wood?
The sapele mahogany is a large hardwood tree commonly found in Central Africa. Tall and wide, its trunk can exceed six feet in diameter! Because the sapele mahogany tends to have few to no branches below eighty feet, it yields lumber that is wide and long with a very straight grain, giving it a very attractive and distinctive look.
We recommend sapele mahogany for many projects not just for its looks but also for its superior stability. Sapele wood has a medium hardness, with a Janka rating of 1510 lbf (pounds of force). It is harder than many North American hardwoods, and it’s almost twice as hard as genuine mahogany! As the tree’s fibers grow, they twist around the trunk with the grain pattern moving in the same direction. This interlocking pattern prevents a lot of the movement often found across the grain in other wood species. These characteristics make sapele mahogany a very stable wood to work with.
Sapele mahogany is unique because even though it is classified as a hardwood, it has some of the same features as softwood and can be used for some of the same projects.
“We recommend quartersawn sapele mahogany for its better stability.”
– Amos Fisher, General Manager
Sapele Mahogany Projects
Interior Projects: Common interior projects that use sapele mahogany wood are cabinetry, doors, and flooring. (It is even used to make musical instruments!)
Exterior Projects: Common exterior projects that use sapele mahogany wood are decking, siding, and window framing.
What Is White Oak Wood?
White oak trees are commonly found throughout North America, and throughout history, it’s been used for nearly any project imaginable. The symmetrical grain of this hardwood is typically long and straight, allowing multiple logs to be harvested on one tree without any significant knotting. However, it can also have an irregular grain and tends to have a coarse and uneven texture with porous annual rings. White oak lumber works well for both exterior and interior projects, and it looks great either stained or painted.
In addition to “new” white oak lumber, we also use a fair amount of reclaimed white oak. This hardwood is highly resistant to cracking, water damage, and decay, so a lot of it has held up over the years. Reclaimed white oak wood has become highly sought after for home projects, and often comes from barns and other buildings in the Midwest and Eastern United States.
White Oak Projects
Interior Projects: Common interior projects using white oak wood are those that need to be durable and/or water-resistant, such as bathrooms, children’s rooms, or rec rooms. We often use reclaimed white oak for projects such as doors, farm tables, and tack room accessories.
Exterior Projects: Common exterior projects involving white oak wood are front doors, barn doors, and window frames.
Softwood comes from conifer trees such as cedar, pine, and spruce, and despite its name, it is not necessarily always softer than hardwood. Softwood accounts for 80 percent of the world’s production of timber (Wiki) and is most commonly used in the construction industry. Softwood is appealing because it is plentiful and versatile, and it tends to be resistant to insects due to the lack of moisture under the trees’ bark.
Two popular types of softwood we use in projects are western red cedar and knotty pine.
What Is Western Red Cedar?
The western red cedar is a tree native to western North America that thrives in forests and on mountainsides. This shade-tolerant tree quickly reproduces, providing an abundant supply of this softwood that’s a perennially popular choice for projects.
Western red cedar comes in warm cinnamon colors, adding a beautiful visual element to your home without the need for colored stain. The grain is straight with little knots. Throughout America specifically, this wood species has been used for centuries, not only due to its distinctive hue but for its durability, resistance to weather decay, minimal maintenance, and long-lasting beauty. Western red cedar is a truly versatile softwood that looks good while standing up to the elements.
Western Red Cedar Wood Projects
Interior Projects: Common interior projects involving western red cedar include paneling, accent beams, and trim.
Exterior Projects: Common exterior projects involving western red cedar include posts, pergolas, siding, doors, and decking.
What Is Knotty Pine Wood?
Knotty pine is a softwood distinguishable by its prominent knots and gorgeous honey tones. These wood boards range from yellow to orange and even reddish, and they work particularly well for mid-century modern and rustic projects. Thanks to knotty pine wood’s warm colors and charming knots, this softwood is a popular choice for adding visual appeal.
Knotty pine wood comes from evergreen trees that typically grow anywhere from ten to 260 feet tall (wiki). Pines grow significantly faster than other species and therefore are the most commercially important tree species in the world. Knotty pine wood is medium in density but more durable than most other softwoods.
Knotty Pine Wood Projects
Interior Projects: Common interior projects that use knotty pine wood are interior doors, furniture, floors, cabinetry, drywall framing, paneling, and countertops.
Exterior Projects: Common exterior projects that use treated knotty pine wood are outdoor furniture, and roofing. We don’t recommend using knotty pine on any exterior doors.
One More Thing to Consider When Choosing the Type of Wood for Your Project: Stain
The finishing touch to your wood project may involve staining and/or finishing. Deep-penetrating wood stain enhances the color of your wood, while the finish provides protection against the elements. We work with only the highest quality stains and finishes for our doors and other millwork projects.
To allow the natural beauty of the wood to shine through, we typically use a flat finish. A variety of stain colors are available to complement your wood choice and color preference. Here are some of the most popular stain choices that we recommend:
- Medium Brown with Clear
- Puritans Pine
- Early American
- English Chestnut
Still undecided? We understand there are many variables in determining which wood species is best for your project, as well as which stain to choose. Our team of custom craftsmen at Vintage Millwork and Restoration will work with you every step of the way to ensure you have the best-finished product. Let’s get started!
Windows do more than keep homes comfortable and dry. They are an integral part of your home’s design, adding natural light, fresh air, and beautiful accents to your home. That is why so many of our clients choose custom windows over standard windows from big box stores: custom windows allow more flexibility in shape, size, materials, and craftsmanship so they fully complement their home or building’s design.
Custom Window Materials
We prioritize capturing your vision for your building’s design, which is why we work with a variety of materials to create the perfect windows for your building. Our windows can be made from any species of wood, with more popular options including sapele mahogany, cedar, and reclaimed hemlock. Wood finish options include medium brown, puritans pine, red, white, clear, Early American, and English chestnut.
We typically use tempered and insulated glass (double glazed glass) for most windows. For a more unique look, however, we often use old world restoration glass (or “Wavy Glass”). Adding wavy glass brings a nostalgia for old farm homes from the early 1900s. It is a historic feature bringing old world charm to any home design. We can temper ½” thick or 1/8” thick restoration class, and we source the material from a local distributor.
Proven Woodworking Method
The mortise and tenon method of crafting windows and other woodworking is a legacy used by craftspeople around the world for thousands of years. This simple method securely joins pieces of wood into a strong, tight joint without requiring nails or screws.
Instead, each piece is expertly fit together and may use glue, pins, or wedges to lock it into place. We use this method because of its history of creating airtight, sturdy windows.
Using this method also allows us to create true divided light windows. Not only does this look beautiful, but it is also very sturdy construction. Should a single pane break, it is easier to replace that pane’s glass. (Without the divide between window panes, a crack on one side of the glass might crack the entire window.)
We are able to make windows in a variety of shapes and sizes, designed to fit multiple functionality requirements. We are particularly skilled in awning windows, double hung old style restoration windows, and almost any casement window.
Specifying Vintage Millwork & Restoration Windows
At Vintage Homes & Millwork, our emphasis is on high-quality craftsmanship, and we use our knowledge and skills to provide for all of our clients’ needs. This includes proactively anticipating design needs, constructing the windows exactly to spec, and either overseeing installation or installing the windows ourselves.
You won’t need to rely on boilerplate information from a manufacturer when specifying windows for your custom home design. By bringing a skilled craftsperson early in the design phase of your project, we can help you plan the work based on our knowledge of the materials and the process we would use to construct your window. Our friendly, responsive team will quickly ensure you know all of the important details for getting the exact windows necessary to complete your vision for your building.
All of our windows are crafted in our Lancaster County workshop using traditionally proven methods combined with some of today’s best technology. This ensures your windows are not only beautiful to look at – or look through – but they are also strong and secure.
We pride ourselves on crafting beautiful windows that serve your building’s functional and design needs. Ask us how we can create windows that accentuate your building’s design by calling 717-687-0292 and let’s get started on your next project.
Contractors and architects who are building some of the most beautiful homes and buildings of today are recognizing the value that reclaimed wood adds to their buildings in terms of style, durability, and the ability to impress their clients. To appreciate the benefits of using reclaimed wood for the interior and exterior doors of your architectural project, you need to consider both the history of the wood as well as its current usefulness and durability.
Reclaimed Wood: What Is It?
Reclaimed wood refers to processed lumber that is expertly sourced and recovered from another structure. In America’s early years, wood was the primary building material, chosen for its strength and relative abundance. As a result, buildings such as barns, cabins, warehouses, and churches are popular sources for reclaimed wood. Everything from siding to doors to heavy wood beams can be reused in today’s buildings. You can find reclaimed wood being used as accents, timber frame supports, furniture, building material, and as doors.
Reclaimed Wood Benefits for Builders
Using reclaimed wood gives discerning architects and builders an edge: you demonstrate your dedication to sourcing one-of-a-kind materials completely customized to your clients’ discriminating tastes. However, reclaimed wood also supports architects and contractors in goals of quality, authenticity, and sustainability.
Quality – A door’s primary function is to stand straight and protect the interior spaces. For that, you need a quality door made from durable materials. Most reclaimed wood is lumber that was harvested in the 18th, 19th or early 20th centuries, when trees were slow-growing, tall, straight, with a dense grain and a natural ability to resist mold and insects. (In contrast, many of the doors in mass markets are milled from fast-growing tree farms.)
Reclaimed wood has been exposed to weather and changes in humidity. This weathers the wood, making it more stable and easier to work with. Once the door is added, your new home or building’s heating system won’t cause the door to warp, cup, or twist.
Authenticity – Your clients are looking for a building that is completely individual to their style. When you start with reclaimed wood, you are guaranteed to give your clients doors unlike any other. Reclaimed wood doors are authentically rustic and each is 100% original. Some reclaimed wood comes with additional character, such as worm holes, nail holes, and knots. These natural and man-made accents add to the wood’s character, transforming the door into artwork. Inspire your clients with the value of transforming old, authentic materials into something new, useful, and beautiful.
Sustainability – Reclaimed wood is the environmentally responsible option for any homeowner or contractor concerned with their impact on nature. Not only are you avoiding chopping down new trees, you are also preventing viable wood from ending up in a landfill. Reclaimed wood also reduces the amount of emissions associated with logging, processing, and transporting new wood necessary for building a door.
Sourcing Reclaimed Wood for Architects and Builders
The process of efficiently sourcing and preparing reclaimed wood requires experience and expert millwork skills. Vintage Millwork and Restoration has a long history of creating custom doors from quality materials, as well as knowing how to find high quality reclaimed wood.
We provide the experience necessary to know which species of wood weather well in 100+ year old structures, and which do not. We help architects and builders source high-quality reclaimed lumber and avoid purchasing damaged pieces.
Once the wood comes to our in-house millwork shop, we carefully inspect each piece to ensure the quality of the reclaimed wood. Once quality is assured, we remove any nails or other metal pieces from the wood. We sterilize the wood, killing any insects and mold, through kiln drying. This process also removes any residual moisture from the wood before the next step, which is cutting the wood to your exact specifications.
Vintage Millwork and Restoration has a long history of creating custom doors from quality materials, including reclaimed wood. Our craftsmanship allows us to expertly manage weathered wood and create beautiful, custom doors with long-lasting durability. To get started on offering your clients the best in reclaimed wood door, contact us or call us at 717-687-0292.
If you’re taking the time to create your own custom door, it’s probably safe to say you are looking for a unique, beautifully designed outcome. Selecting the right hardware to match that vision, however, involves more than just the visual appeal. The secret to your door’s success is taking into account the accessibility, lock functionality, style, and finish of your hardware.
Interior door hardware includes hinges, locks, doorknobs, stops, and everything required to operate your door. Exterior hardware adds items such as knockers and kickplates. Designing the best custom door to fit your needs means getting specific about which hardware pieces are the best choice for your access, lock, and style needs.
Physical Requirements for Accessibility
In considering the accessibility of your door, or how easy it is to open and close, think through how this door will likely be used. Will small kids reach for the handle, and do you want them to be able to easily get in and out? Will you need the door to open easily at the prodding of elbows, feet, or hips when your hands are full? Do you plan on living in this house well into your senior years, or do you have elderly family members who need to use this door frequently?
Daily use is a big determining factor in the physical shape you should use for your hardware. Doorknobs are popular, but they are trickier to use than a handle or lever. This is a good thing if you’re trying to keep small children inside. If you frequently find your hands full or need easy access for arthritic hands, you might favor a lever, which is easier to grip or turn.
Not all locks are the same. For this reason, you should get choosy about which lock style you need. While it’s easy to understand an exterior door’s need for a strong locking mechanism, it’s also important to consider interior door locks. Private areas in your home, such as your bedroom or bathroom, benefit from a privacy knob or lever. Privacy locks come with a tool for emergency release, which can come in handy for kids’ rooms. Closets and storage rooms should remain accessible, making non-locking passage levers or knobs a top choice.
Style and Finish
The best area to be picky is in selecting your hardware’s style and finish. After considering your accessibility and locking needs, find a hardware style that is congruent with the architecture of your home.
Styles and finishes vary widely, and each one contributes to your home’s look in a different way. If your home is more traditional, brass might fit best. Dress up the metal with a different finish to create a custom look. If your house is new or modern, you might want to consider chrome. Nickel and bronze styles also tend to work with a variety of décor. Try adding unique finishes such as black, copper, crystal, or even hand-painted to perfect your hardware’s look.
Stay consistent with your hardware material across all pieces: knobs, locks, hinges, and any decorative pieces. You can also ensure your look is cohesive from door to door by using the same hardware style on interior doors in the same room or area.
While your hardware selection should fit your home’s architectural style and your personal taste, that doesn’t mean you should skip out on trends you like. Today’s custom wood doors are not your grandfather’s style of wood door.
Now, some designers are using black hardware and fixtures with a matte finish to bring out the grain of wood used in their doors. Polished nickel, with its warmer undertones, is replacing polished chrome. Many homeowners are opting for softened finishes like satin, nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, and gun metal.
Where to Begin
Before purchasing a new door, get picky about the style and functionality you want out of your door. Talk with a designer or engineer – such as those on the Vintage Millwork and Restoration team – about your options in door handle or pull styles, locking options, and your home’s particular look and feel.
It is easier to choose all of the right components for your new door, such as the hardware or the best wood species, when you have an expert to walk you through the process. We have such experts on hand: they can take your vision and turn it into a real, solid door that you will love. Start the process by calling 717-687-0292 or contact us here.
When designing your custom wood door, it’s important to understand all of your options, including what type of wood will best fit your needs. The decision does not always boil down to look and feel alone, but rather functionality and durability as well.
At Vintage Millwork and Restoration, we believe in educating our customers throughout the building process so that they can make the best decisions while designing their custom door. This includes exploring which type of wood is best for your door’s intended use. We offer many wood types with pros and cons associated with each of them.
Difference Between Softwood and Hardwood
Before you determine which wood type is best for your project, it’s important to know the difference between hard and softwoods. Most people assume that hardwood means a more durable wood, but this is not always the case. These terms refer to the origin and structure of the tree from which the wood comes from.
Hardwood comes from trees with enclosed seeds or flowering plants, such as apple trees or trees with acorns. Some examples include birch, mahogany, maple, oak, and walnut. Hardwood also has pores, which contribute to the wood’s grain pattern and make the wood dense and more fire resistant. Most hardwoods tend to be dark red, rich brown, or white in color, and they are used for more durable construction projects like hardwood flooring or decking.
Softwood comes from trees with uncovered seeds that blow away and keep their needles all year-round. Some examples include cedar, pine, redwood, and spruce. Softwood tends to be yellow or reddish in color. Softwood trees are generally less expensive and are used for things like timber, Christmas trees, or paper production.
Popular Vintage Millwork and Restoration Wood Species
Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between a hard and softwood, let’s review the many popular types of wood we offer for our custom doors.
This is our top recommendation and most popular wood species for most of our custom door projects. Mahogany is a tropical hardwood and is regarded as the hardest, strongest, and highest quality wood type. It has a rich, warm color, and it takes well to finishes, stains, and polishes. Mahogany was very popular in the 1950’s, but it seems to be making a comeback due to the new trend of “red” woods.
Sapele is very similar to Mahogany. It is a hardwood native to tropical Africa and has distinctive and beautiful graining features. It’s extremely durable and is often used for flooring projects. Its reddish-brown color makes for an eye-catching door.
Western Red Cedar
Western Red Cedar is a softwood known for it’s warm, cinnamon hues. This cedar has been used throughout America for hundreds of years and works well for both interior and exterior projects. Its popular features include durability, resistance to weather decay, low-maintenance, and long-lasting beauty. It’s also a popular choice for vacation homes.
Spanish Red Cedar
Spanish Red Cedar is a softwood with a similar grain pattern to that of Mahogany. Often used for cigar humidors and exterior doors, it is resistant to rot and insect attacks. Its color is reddish-brown, and it accepts stains and finishes well.
Reclaimed White Oak
Oak is a hardwood that is used widely throughout the US for things like furniture, flooring, and kitchen cabinets. Available in both a red and white variety, oak is a strong and shock-resistant wood species. It is often the first choice when searching for a water-resistant wood.
White Pine is a softwood that is light in weight and not very shock resistant. It is a white or pale yellow wood that is straight-grained. White Pine is often used for decorative effect. We typically do not recommend this wood type for our projects as it is prone to rotting.
At Vintage Homes and Millwork, we offer many wood species for a variety of projects – including doors, homes, cabinets, and more – but the above tend to be our most requested when it comes to designing a custom wood door. When you are ready to begin your custom door project, you’ll want to consider these wood species and whether or not the color and style fit your décor, and if the wood itself will stand up to your intended use.
For more information, or to begin your custom wood door project with Vintage Millwork and Restoration, give us a call at 717.687.0292 or contact us here.
Your front entryway is the key element to establishing the style of and welcome to your home. It reflects your personality as a homeowner, and is your first official hello to your guests.
Whether you’re building a new home or looking to remodel, you can ensure your front entryway sends the right message by considering the following factors:
Your personal style comes through in the wood you choose, the color of your paint, and the stonework of your walls. We can help you add the same personal touches and details in your front entryway and custom door. Some of our clients want their doors to stand out – or “pop” – against the rest of the house, while others prefer a door that blends with the color of the shutters. Whatever your style, we can design your front entryway to be a natural fit.
Need help finding your style? Our designer can help define a look to best represent you. Or you can send us digital images of doors, foyers, or porches that catch your eye. We can even use pictures from your favorite magazines as inspiration to create an entryway that matches your personal style, vision, and home needs.
Your Daily Use:
When designing your perfect front entryway, it’s important to consider how the door will be used, and whether it will be exposed to harsh weather conditions.
We build our doors to be as functional as they are beautiful. Because of this, we favor working in wood, giving us the perfect mixture of elegance and durability. We use engineered manufacturing for added strength. Depending on how and where the door will be used, we will walk you through choosing sturdy and sophisticated hardware, kick plates, and incorporate a design that helps direct water away from the door.
Because your front entryway is more than just a door, evaluate your home’s exterior to envision whether your entryway would be improved with an overhang or front porch. An overhang is a spectacular accent to any door, while timber frame trusses or a porch adds a statement of elegance to your home. Both options are also great for keeping water off your front steps, your guests, and your custom door.
After your door, your foyer is how you receive your guests for the first time. It is their first impression of the interior of your home. Just as your entryway should consider the outdoor style of your home, it should also take into account your interior entrance.
Is your foyer light and airy? Let in natural light with glass panels in your front door. You can increase the light by adding sidelights, or panels of windows around your door.
Does your foyer favor the strong and handsome look? Add timber frame trusses or beams to your entryway, stairs, or gallery area. Doing so adds warmth and distinctiveness through the timeless charm of classic wood.
Don’t forget additional lighting needs, such as chandeliers inside or sconces on the outside.
Your Custom Entryway Builder:
A custom entryway or door not only allows you to greet your guests with your personal style, it also provides great curb appeal. Choosing a custom builder who can interpret your style and has a proven track record of producing quality ensures the end result meets your expectations.
With Vintage Millwork and Restoration, the customization possibilities are endless. We are custom builders who specialize in unique buildings, such as timber frame homes and hybrid construction. We pride ourselves on our expert engineering, skilled craftsmen, and our hands-on approach to every project.
When you contact us, you are paired with an engineer qualified to walk you through every step of the design, wood choice, and hardware selection. We have an in-house millwork shop, which means we control every step of the process and can guarantee superb quality from start to finish.
To start designing your perfect custom entryway to match your unique style, contact us here, and let’s talk options.