One could argue that walls are the most important part of any home. But if there’s anything that even comes close to the importance of an exterior or interior wall, it’s the door.
Parts of a Hinged Door
Whether exterior or interior, nearly all residential doors feature a hinged design. And that design relies on several parts to be fully operational:
Panel: While there are many essential parts that make an interior or exterior door operational, none is more important than the door panel itself. Without the panel, you would be left with nothing more than an open doorway.
Frame: The frame is what holds a door in place. Frames offer a sturdy structure to mount the door to the surrounding drywall or exterior siding. They also create a clean transition between the wall and the door itself.
All styles of doors have some sort of frame. However, hinged, single panel doors are the most common type. Interior door frames tend to be extremely simple and are normally made of wood. Exterior frames often include additional elements like weatherstripping or metal reinforcements.
Head Rail: The head rail is the top portion of a door frame running parallel to the floor. Head rails feature a “stop” — a strip of wood that stops the door from swinging to the other side of the frame — at the bottom.
Threshold: The threshold is the bottom portion of a door frame. (Yes, this is the same threshold that newlyweds ceremoniously cross together!) Not all doors feature a true threshold. Thresholds are more commonly a part of exterior doors than interior ones.
Jamb: The jambs are the side pieces of a door frame. Each jamb has a different name depending on its location and role:
- The strike jamb is located on the same side as the doorknob. It contains the strike plate that the knob and locking mechanism (if applicable) fit into.
- The hinge jamb is located on the opposite side and — as the name implies — is where the door’s hinges are mounted.
Casing: The casing is the decorative molding applied to either side of a door frame. In the case of exterior door framing, brick molding is the more popular term.
Margins: Margins are the nearly imperceptible gaps between a door panel and its frame. While tiny, these margins are incredibly important to a door opening and closing correctly. Doors that get stuck or have drafts typically have faulty margins.
Hinge: The hinge is what allows a door to swing open and close with minimal effort. Almost all residential doors rely on hinges (sliding doors are the most notable exception). Most doors feature a single set of hinges opposite of the latching mechanism.
However, bifold, accordion and other multi-panel door styles may feature several sets of hinges in addition to those attached to the frame.
Leaf: A leaf is the flat part of a hinge that is mounted to a frame or one side of a door panel. Each hinge includes two leaves. The leaves are completely separate from each other unless connected by a pin.
Pin: The pin is what joins both leaves together to form a fully functioning hinge. Most pins are made of metal. The length of a pin is determined by the size of the leaf it pairs with. The pin can be removed from a door hinge at any time. This makes it possible to remove a door from its frame (i.e., for painting or other maintenance) without unscrewing the hinge leaves themselves.
Most hinge pins feature a flared tip. The tip prevents the pin from sliding through the hinge completely. It also makes it easier to remove the pin as needed with a pair of pliers.
Knuckle: Each leaf features knuckles along one edge. The knuckles are the holes that hold the pin. The leaves of a single hinge feature knuckles that are offset from each other. When put together, the offset knuckles form a continuous tunnel that holds the pin securely in place.
Screw Hole: Screw holes are fairly self-explanatory! Each leaf features preformed holes for quickly and easily mounting the hinge to a door or jamb without the use of heavy-duty metalworking tools.
Knob: Doorknobs are extremely intricate structures. Even the simplest knobs can be difficult to understand from the outside looking in. To make matters even more complicated, doorknobs come in countless types and styles.
This means that there are a host of varying parts that may or not be included in a single knob design. While we can’t cover every style available, there are several key parts you’ll find in almost every type of doorknob.
Handle: The handle is the part of a doorknob that can be pushed down or turned. It disengages the latch so the door can be opened. It is also most often the part of the knob that is held when opening or closing the door. Handles come in many different styles. Levers and round knobs are the most common types used for interior doors.
Rose: Also called trim, the rose is a plate installed behind the doorknob handle. It covers the installation hardware and offers a clean appearance on each side of the door panel. Many different styles of rose are available to suit a wide range of home design trends.
Latch: The latch is a spring-operated bolt that keeps the door closed whether it is locked or not. The latch is surrounded by the face plate. It inserts into the strike plate.
Face Plate: The faceplate is a small piece of metal that surrounds the latch. It is screwed into the side of the door panel and primarily protects the door from damage caused by normal operation.
Strike Plate: Most, but not all, of a doorknob is contained within the door panel itself. A strike plate is a piece of metal mounted to the frame (the strike jamb, to be precise). The strike plate surrounds the cavity that houses the latch when the door is closed. It reinforces and protects the frame from damage caused by day-to-day use or attempts to force the door open when locked.
Bolting Mechanism: The bolting mechanism is the internal structure that allows a doorknob to be locked and unlocked. Bolting mechanisms vary greatly in terms of intricacy. Bolting mechanisms installed in exterior doors are typically stronger and more complex than those used in interior doors.
Lock: The lock is the external part of the bolting mechanism. Common lock styles include thumb-turns, levers, and push-buttons. Only one side of a doorknob includes a lock. The opposite side typically features some type of keyhole.
Parts of a Glass Sliding Door
The vast majority of residential doors are hinged. But many homes also feature sliding glass doors leading out to a patio, sunroom, or balcony.
As you can probably imagine, the essential parts of a sliding glass door are a bit different than the standard hinged door!
Fixed Panel: The fixed panel of a sliding glass door is completely stationary. Fixed panels do not feature handles or locking mechanisms of any kind. Instead, a fixed panel is essentially a large windowpane.
Sliding Panel: The sliding panel is the part of a sliding glass door that actually opens and closes. The side adjacent to the wall features a handle and may include a locking mechanism (especially if it is an exterior door).
Rollers: Rollers allow the sliding panel to smoothly glide open and closed along the track. Rollers are normally installed within the bottom and/or top of the sliding panel and are not visible to the door’s user.
Track: The tracks are what make it possible to open or close a sliding glass door with minimal physical effort. Most sliding glass doors feature two tracks — one at the top of the panels and one at the bottom. It’s common for the top track to act solely as support (keeping the sliding panel securely in place) rather than play a role in the door’s operation.
Bumper: Many sliding glass door tracks feature a bumper. This is a small piece of wood, plastic, or another material that prevents the sliding panel from moving past a certain point. Bumpers can be slid along the track to adjust how far the door can open at any given time.
Parts of a Sliding Barn Door
Another extremely popular door style seen in homes today is the sliding barn door. While this style of door operates very similarly to a sliding glass door, the two share very few core parts.
Here’s what goes into creating a functional and trendy sliding barn door:
Panel: The panel of a sliding barn door is much the same as a traditional hinged door. Most panels are made of wood. A barn door panel may or may not feature a handle (but no locking mechanism).
Hanger: The hangers are what support the panel and connect it to the track above. Sliding barn doors typically feature two hangers per panel. But more may be installed for additional support or aesthetics.
Anti-Jump Block: Anti-jump blocks attach to the panel or hangers and prevent the sliding barn door from accidentally leaving the track. Anti-jump blocks are largely a safety feature.
Track: Although the track of a sliding barn door looks different, it operates almost identically to that of a sliding glass door. Sliding barn door tracks are traditionally installed on the wall above the doorway.
End Stop: Each end of a sliding barn door track features an end stop. The end stops prevent the door from sliding past a specific point, guaranteeing that the panel does not slide off one end of the track during operation.
Guide: The guide is installed near the bottom of the door panel, either on the floor or the supporting wall. The guide ensures that the sliding barn door remains upright and does not swing out at the bottom.
It’s true, the modern home wouldn’t exist without doors. And, in many ways, today’s doors are much more complex than they seem.
Interior doors are relatively easy to maintain as long as you can identify all of the parts. Exterior doors are a bit more complicated but far from impossible for the skilled handyman.
The more you know about the various types of doors and how they work, though, the better equipped you’ll be to design and care for your own home!
Which types of doors are featured in your home? Do you have plans to update them in the future? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!