Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
If you’ve ever taken a stroll down a street, you may have noticed that many front doors have a six-panel design. This door design is extremely popular in many homes, especially in the United States. But why?
Many doors have six panels because the six-panel design creates a strong, rigid, and long-lasting door, even in humid climates. These doors maintain their structure for years and are pleasing to the eye.
The rest of this article explains in detail why the six-panel door design has maintained its popularity, why doors have panels, how panel doors are made, and other door design options. If you are interested in construction and woodworking, or if you’re simply curious about why this door design has remained popular for so long, keep reading!
Why Is the 6 Panel Door Design Popular?
The six-panel door design is popular because it is structurally sound and makes for a stable and long-lasting door. The interior panels shrink and expand with the weather without affecting the overall integrity of the door.
These doors typically feature two smaller upper panels, two long center panels, and two medium-sized panels at the bottom of the door. The average six-panel door in most homes measures 32 by 80 inches (81.28 by 203.2 cm) .
This door design became popular in the United States in the late 18th century, during the rise of industrialization. Housing styles became more uniform during this time, and this strong and long-lasting door design caught on.
Panel doors have a variety of benefits:
- They have good insulation and soundproofing qualities.
- Because they’re built to last, these doors generally require less maintenance.
- They last longer in all climates, especially humid ones.
- Hollow-core panel doors are less expensive and lighter than other doors.
- This design allows for a cross rail that provides a place to attach coat hooks.
- Splitting the door in half vertically with a center stile adds strength structurally and reduces the panel board width required.
A common myth is that six-panel doors were designed with Christianity in mind. This myth asserts that the bottom panels of six-panel doors represented an open Bible and the middle stile and rail represented a cross. However, this door design became popular because of its structural strength and not its piousness or warding off witches.
Why Do Doors Have Panels?
Doors have panels because the design helps them become more rigid and long-lasting. Panel doors are composed of panels instead of being crafted from a single piece of wood. Each of the panels is fitted together to form a finished door.
While six-panel doors are the most popular design, there are other options. A door can even have just one panel. Depending on design preference, the panels can be raised or recessed in the door.
Panels make the door rigid and strong, and the design more pleasing to the eye. Wood is a natural material, so it expands and contracts depending on weather conditions and humidity, but the panel design resists this movement. Therefore, the door stays straight and well-functioning for years.
How Is a Panel Door Made?
Panel doors are made by joining the wood panels and surrounding them with stiles, rails, and mullions. Outer stiles prevent the door from buckling, and the center stiles help situate the panels.
Panel doors also have top, middle, and bottom rails to help the door’s stability. The panels should be sanded, and any finish should be applied before they’re glued together to avoid raw wood being visible in case any panels shrink.
Stiles are joined together using bridle joints. There are many ways to join the frame together, including bridle joints, dowels, and tenons. The panels are captured in the grooves along the edges of the stiles.
Panels can be made from timber, wood, veneer, particleboard, glass, wire mesh, and other materials depending on the use of the door. Exterior doors tend to be made with wood panels for structural, protective, and privacy reasons, but some exterior doors use glass panels to let light in.
The following video shows the process of making a panel door in detail:
Panel doors aren’t just for full, room-size or exterior front doors, the designs are also used for cabinets and other furniture.
Other Door Designs
The six-panel design is the most popular in the United States, but there are other options. Here are some of the panel designs you are most likely to come across:
- Battened and ledged doors. These doors are made with vertical wood battens and three edges: one at the top, one at the base, and one in the middle. These are usually used for toilets and showers.
- Flush doors. A flush door is completely smooth, and the core is usually hollow. The frame can be made of wood or steel. This design is mostly used for interior doors because it isn’t as structurally strong as a panel door.
- Glass doors. Many houses have glass doors facing the backyard to let light in and provide a view of the lawn. These doors are more expensive than panel doors using wood panels, and they require more maintenance and protection. They also tend to be heavier than other door designs.
- PVC doors. PVC stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride, which is a plastic material. This material is solid and isn’t prone to termite or humidity damage like wooden doors. However, they are not suited for entry or exterior doors because they are lightweight and not weatherproof.
- Aluminum doors. Aluminum is lightweight, weather-resistant, and termite-resistant. Doors made of aluminum are practical and can last a long time if cared for correctly.
Ultimately, the door design and material that is right for you and your home depend on the climate, your personal aesthetic preference, and your budget.
Six-panel doors became popular during the rise of industrialization and the development of uniform housing in the late 18th century. Todate, the design is still in use.
Not only is the six-panel design pleasing to the eye aesthetically, but it also creates a more robust and longer-lasting door that is rigid enough to resist warping from humidity. Because of its strength, the six-panel door design is likely here to stay!
- Sun Mountain: What is a Panel Door?
- Doorstop: Why Do Doors Have Panels?
- Answers to All: Why Do Doors Have 6 Panels?
- Woodworker’s Journal: Making Frame-and-Panel Doors
- Historymyths Six-Panel Door
- StrucCore:10 Different Types of Doors for Your House
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