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

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.