Dear PoP – Seeking Historic Front Doors?

“Dear PoP,

Since you feature such fabulous entry doors on your blog, I thought your readers might have some good suggestions for mine. I’ve just bought a 1920s bungalow that has a great porch, original shingles, all its original windows, etc., but an ugly metal front door. I know there are sources for bungalow doors out there on the internet, but I’d love to deal with a local company. Does anyone know of a good local source for period-appropriate, solid wood front doors, and people who really know how to install them for maximum security and weather-tightness?”

Anyone ever replace their door with a solid wood front door? I’m guessing Community Forklift will be recommended. Any other spots?

For those who’ve done this – how much does a good solid wood door cost?

27 Comment

  • Most bungalows didn’t have solid wood doors – the ones in and around 16th St. Heights that still have original doors tend to have quite a bit of glass in them. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a bungalow with an original solid wood door.

    • Yeah, same in Brookland–usually the top 1/3 was comprised of 6 glass squares, and the bottom 2/3 was frame and panel (2 panels, creating 3 vertical wood “stripes”).

  • Great question!

    I’d love to hear some answers that arent the usual. Besides Community Forklift, Brass Knob, and the places in Baltimore.

    Personally, I’d like to know of a place that has a big supply of doors that dont look like they’ve barely survived the blitzkrieg…

    Is there anywhere that reliably sells nice looking, unique, solid entry doors? Not just a place that you have to rummage about and get lucky?

  • Second Chance in Baltimore has a warehouse full of doors and a big sale on. They will also refinish if you are not up for dealing with that. As for how it should look, the folks at Historic Preservation in the Office of Planning might have the information for your neighborhood – or ask your neighbors who has an original door!

  • Chances are your 1920’s house has a unique or irregular door shape which means you’ll need a custom door. A solid mahogeny door might could cost you $5k (with staining and install). A lower quality, soft wood might be $2k.

  • Hi – I’m the one who asked the question, and I just wanted to clarify: by “solid wood”, I didn’t mean one without windows – just that the wood parts of the door are wood through and through, not a veneer or sandwich or wood lookalike.

    Thanks to commenters and to PoP for posting. Keep the suggestions coming! Looks like a trip to B’more would be worthwhile.

    • The Craftsman Group is located in 3 alley buildings at 729 Fairmont St NW near Howard University. They’re a full millwright shop still making doors and windows.

      There were three types of door construction during the Bungalow period: stile & rail, veneered and plank. Stile and rail was the oldest type and consisted of solid pieces of wood milled into door components (stiles, rails, panels) and assembled with mortise & tenons or dowels. Veneered doors came about in the early 1900s and consisted of thin hardwood veneered over a cheaper base wood (like mahogany over pine). Nothing wrong with that; it produced a very stable door as long as the weather didn’t break down the veneer glue. Plank doors were also built over a core of cheap wood, but instead of a thin sheet of veneer, the outer surface consisted of thin boards butted together with beaded joints; think tudor revival and “rustic.”

  • I second the Second Chance reco – and if you are looking for a kitchen or bath reno it is a great place to go too.

  • 5K for a magoney door plus install…hmm we got ours for less than that and that included custom trim and some significant demo

    Here’s a sample from Amighini Salvage (in NJ, also California but i think shipping would be crazy from the west coast)

    They are not cheap, but if you are in the market for a solid wood historical door, they’e pretty hard to beat if you look at the lower price end of their offerings

    There customer service is pretty good too. I recommend you drive up and pick-up/inspect yourself as the shipping can be expensive. Also, measure and measure again to make sure it will fit

    You will need a good carpenter to get it to fit well

  • You can order a beautiful period appropriate door from the Bungalow Series by Simpson Door t Go online and request a quote from TWPerry in Chevy Chase (they got back to me in about a day). You can select almost any wood species and size. Prices range from $450 (for fir) to the many thousands (for exotic species). Plus the glass is insulated, the door can easily be customize for your frame, and you can ask them to make it “stain ready”.

    For period appropriate door hardware, I’d check out

  • Nate, thanks – that’s a fantastic resource.

  • You can’t get more local thank this, located on the 900 block of Fairmont. Built us a beautiful new door and refurbished our windows. Not cheap, but not crazy expensive for what you are looking for.

    They will NOT build you a “modern” door for your 1920s house, so only call if you are looking for something
    “appropriate” for the period. Owner will seem a little cranky as first, but you will come to love them and they will ruin you for any future contractors that door work on your house.

    • Wow! How did I not know about the Craftsmen Group? I’m going to need help with my windows, too, so this is excellent to know about.

    • Second recommendation for Craftsmen Group – they did an excellent job refurbishing my old windows.

  • this is in richmond VA, a bit of a hike but well worth a day trip. enormous building stuffed to the gills with architectural salvage!

  • You could also try ReStore (Habitat for Humanity). There is a store in Gaithersburg on Gaither Rd.

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