About Exterior Doors
A Guide to Wood Species
Wood is proving to be a classic, enduring and eye-catching feature that has struck a chord with people who want to stand out from the crowd and live in a house that feels one-of-a-kind. Homeowners are looking beyond the traditional woods, such as pine, oak and fir, to incorporate a wide variety of wood options into homes. In addition, luxury homebuilders are using less familiar wood species to attract buyers and differentiate their products in a crowded field. Another design trend is using an assortment of complementary wood species to create a unique sense of style, warmth and sometimes a contrasting appearance. For example, mahogany and maple go great together because their grain patterns match well. Alder and cherry make another attractive combination.
Wood species used in homes vary greatly in terms of characteristics and features. Performance aspects such as durability, stainability, grain pattern and color stability will vary depending on the type and the specific characteristics of the tree, including whether it is a softwood or hardwood. Some wood, such as cherry, tends to change color and darken over time.
Different species also react differently to stain. Softwoods have more resins than hardwoods and need more preparation before staining. Natural, clear or light stain finishes work well for species such as pine, while mahogany is better suited for darker stains. Walnut and cherry, when stained with lighter tones, show a wide degree of interesting color variations.
Mix and match adds drama
A design trend is using an assortment of complementary wood species to create a unique sense of style, warmth and sometimes a contrasting appearance. Using a variety of wood species in a home is very similar to selecting colors for a personal wardrobe. Mixing it up, when done with just a little know-how, is generally much more interesting. For example, mahogany and maple go great together because their grain patterns match well. Alder and cherry make another attractive combination. With homeowners requesting open floor plans, kitchens and dens are popular areas in which to mix and match wood species.
Using unique wood species is one way for you to set yourselves and your homes apart from the competition. Take the opportunity to learn about wood species and become a valuable resource for homebuyers or homeowners who want to personalize their homes with wood, but may not be familiar with which species might look the best. Here is a brief overview of the wood species available for JELD-WEN windows and doors:
HARDWOODS – Produced from deciduous (leaf-bearing) trees
Alder (Clear and Knotty) – A popular species today because of its pronounced grain and uniform texture. This versatile wood species features a fairly straight grain with areas of burl clusters and small knots. These marks add character and will provide a darker texture and color when finished. Alder varies from pale yellow to reddish brown and it accepts stains exceptionally well. It is also the lightest and least dense. Knotty Alder presents a more rustic look. When stained, alder blends well with walnut, mahogany and cherry. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
Cherry – While usually recognized by its darker tone, cherry can be stained in a variety of shades. The cherry we use varies from rich red to reddish brown in color. It features a smooth texture with fine, straight and close grain. Occasionally, thin gum pockets and small clusters of pin knots are visible. These character marks, along with random blonde streaks of sapwood, add a distinctive quality to the wood. Cherry will darken over time with exposure to light and contains miniscule pith marks as identifiers. Cherry stains easily and smoothly. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors.
- Hickory – This wood is a relatively smooth hardwood with prominent grain and it frequently features character marks such as bird pecks, pin knots and mineral streaks. It has a dramatic color variation which can be minimized with darker stains and paint finishes. The heartwood is tan or reddish while the sapwood is white to cream with fine brown lines. This wood features a closed grain with moderate definition and is rough textured. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
- Mahogany – One of the most recognizable species and is typically used for the finest furniture and cabinetry. Its color ranges from reddish brown to a deep, rich red and it stains well for a superior finish. The wood displays a prominent growth ring figure, with grain that is straight or interlocked. This wood offers less expansion and contraction than most other hardwoods. Mahogany is open grained so it needs grain filler when finishing. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
- Maple – A dense hardwood that has a prolonged life. Maple is a hard, strong wood with a smooth texture and uniform grain. The grain is fine and is similar to birch and cherry. It may exhibit random darker streaks and occasional birds-eye or worm track patterns. Over time, maple will mellow in color due to natural exposure to light and air. Traditionally used for interior applications. No grain filler required when finishing. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
- Oak – This hardwood is one of the most popular species used today. Oak is renowned for its dramatically pronounced grain pattern. This pattern varies from tight, vertical grain to a beautifully arched pattern. This wood may also feature pin knots and mineral streaks. The color range includes light straw and honey with a light pink hue. Very durable and strong, oak accepts stains evenly and is easy to work with. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
- Poplar – One of the less expensive hardwood species and often referred to as “affordable cherry.” This wood species is a smooth, fine-grained wood with a relatively smooth texture. It is mostly light in color, but it also features dramatic color variation. Applying darker stained finishes or painted finishes to the wood will help minimize these color ships. This wood is moderately soft, easy to work with and takes paint well. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
- Walnut (Clear and Knotty) – One of the more beautiful and expensive species, walnut is traditionally used for fine gun stocks, furniture and boatbuilding. It is a dense hardwood that is fairly porous. The color varies from a rich, dark brown to black with purple undertones. Because of the way it growns, the heartwood of the walnut tree grows darker than the sapwood on the outer rings. Walnut features attractive blonde sapwood streaks within the darker tones and it generally has a straight grain with occasional waves or curls. It requires grain filler when finished. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
SOFTWOODS – Produced from conifer (cone-bearing) trees
- Douglas Fir – The texture of this softwood is smooth with a straight, even grain and knots that create beautiful swirl patterns. This wood is a light, rosy color that is set off by its remarkably straight and handsome grain pattern. Will tend to “redden” over time when exposed to light. Paints easily and can hold all types of stains and finishes. A popular choice for front doors, as it naturally resists weathering. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.
Juniper – Juniper delivers a one-of-a-kind look with unique knots and splits in addition to large, swirling grain patterns that some wood experts describe as "sensual." The rich coloring of the grain can vary from lighter tones to deep cinnamon brown with reddish undertones. The natural beauty of juniper works well for rustic, historic and traditional styles, such as Mediterranean, Old World and Lodge architecture. The knotty wood ages gracefully with warm, deep tones that naturally darken over time, creating a customized look as no two grain patterns are alike. Natural cracks and splits accentuate its rustic appeal.
- Hemlock – This wood features a fine-textured, straight-grained appearance. It is light and bright in color, varying from a creamy, nearly white to a light, straw-red color. Sometimes hemlock may have a slight lavender cast, especially around the knots and in the transition area between the spring and summerwood growth rings. This wood often contains small mineral deposits, but is free of pitch and is not likely to splinter. While wood darkens over time with exposure to sunlight, hemlock often remains true to its original, freshly milled pastel color. Accepts stain and paint well. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors.
- Pine (Clear and Knotty) – This pine is harvested from plantation forests. Distinct color variations occur and the grain can appear straight or erratic depending on how it is cut from the log. The wood will darken and yellow with age, adding character and charm. It machines to a fine, smooth finish and easily accepts lighter stains and paint. Staining is recommended to achieve a uniform appearance because pine naturally contains resins that can affect penetration. Knots should be sealed before painting. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.