Understanding Door Terminology: Everything You Need to Know

Are your doors drafty, worn or not up to your expectations? Then it’s time to get a replacement. Before you can make any decisions on a new door, you need to understand door terminology, parts and know the styles available.

Is there really a difference from door to door? Why does it matter?

door terminology

If you have that mentality, you won’t be happy with your replacement door. There’s much more to it than just picking a new door willy-nilly. Knowing the parts, terminology and styles can be the difference between having a durable, beautiful, energy efficient door and being stuck with a poor decision for a long time.

In this article we’ll explain door terminology, parts and styles so you get the perfect exterior doors for your home. Let’s get started.

There are Different Styles of Doors

Before you can understand door terminology and parts, you need to know the different styles of doors. This is because each door style has its own unique parts. We’ll go over every door style below.

Entry Door

Your front and side doors are called entry doors. When you’re looking for an entry door, you want one that’s durable, strong and energy efficient since it’s the last barrier between your home and the outside world.

entry door

Entry doors can be made of several materials: wood, steel, composite, fiberglass or aluminum. If you want a durable, energy efficient option, you should get steel or fiberglass. Both have foam cores that prevent drafts from entering your home. Your home will be air tight and you’ll save money on your energy bills.

Plus, fiberglass and steel doors are resistant to warping, rotting and expanding when exposed to moisture which is a major problem for other door materials. With the heavy rain and humidity in the Midwest, this is an important feature.

Your entry doors can also make a great first impression. They’re the first and last thing people see when they come to your house. Give them a bit of personal flair and style to improve your home’s curb appeal.

Patio Door

Doors used to enter backyards, sun rooms, patios and decks are called patio doors. There are two different styles of patio doors available: French patio doors and sliding patio doors.

French, or swinging, patio doors are constructed similarly to entry doors. They open and close on a hinge which you can customize the direction they swing. Steel and fiberglass are the best materials for these doors to be made from. They can also come in two or three door configurations. They’ll add beauty and elegance to any room they’re in.

Sliding patio doors are more like large sliding windows. They open and close on a sliding track so they’re extremely easy to operate. They’re made out of vinyl with argon insulated glass foam-filled frames for energy efficiency. Plus, they’ll maximize the amount of natural light that enters your home.

patio door

Storm Door

You can protect your entry doors with storm doors. Storm doors are installed between your entry door and the outside, creating a barrier that prevents rain, snow, ice and debris blown by heavy winds from striking it.

Not only that, but storm doors add another layer of insulation to your entryway. They help prevent heated or cooled air from escaping your home. This will save you money on your energy bills.

storm door

Beauty isn’t neglected with storm doors either. There are many customization options which help them complement the rest of your home. There are even metal mesh screens that are highly durable and perfect for homes with small children and pets because they won’t tear or rip.

Door Terminology

Now that you know the different door styles available, it’s time to learn about door terminology. Knowing these terms will help you find the perfect replacement door for your home.

Let’s start with the basics: the door slab is the actual door while the door unit includes the slab and the frame.

There are two main types of doors: swinging doors and gliding/sliding doors. Swinging doors swing open on a hinge while sliding doors open side to side on a track.

If you break it down even further, there are two types of swinging doors: in-swing doors and out-swing doors. In-swing doors open into your home while out-swing doors open away from it.

Swinging doors can either be right-hanging doors or left-hanging doors. This is determined by the side your hinges are on.

Side by side doors, also known as double doors, are two door configurations where both doors are next to one another. Another name for this type of doors is a French door.  The doors can either be active or inactive. Active doors regularly open while inactive doors are usually locked and don’t move.

The r-value of your door measures its resistance to heat flow. This determines how energy efficient your door is – the higher the r-value, the better your door is at resisting heat.

You can learn more about door terminology in this video:

Door Terminology

Parts of a Door Frame

It’s time to talk about the parts of your door! Let’s start with the frame which has specific parts you need to know.

The most obvious part of your frame is the casing. It’s the decorative molding that wraps around your door opening.

The jambs are the sides of your door frame and are attached to the door slab by the hinges.

The stop runs along the perimeter of your frame and prevents your door from swinging too far.

The bottom of your door is called the threshold or the sill.

Decorative glass windows above your door are called transoms while the ones on the side are called sidelights.

Parts of a Entry Door

You already know that there are three different styles of doors. You may not know that each style has its own set of door terminology and parts. We’ll go over each style starting with entry doors.

learn the parts of an entry door

A glass inserts is the decorative piece of glass found within the door. There are many styles you can choose from to give your door the perfect look.

The raised or recessed patterns on the door slab are called panels.

The horizontal parts of the panel are called rails. There are several different types of rails. The top rail is rail found at the top of the door while the bottom rail is found on the bottom. The rail that runs where the lock is located is called the lock rail.

Stiles are the vertical parts of your door panel. There’s also a top stile, bottom stile and lock stile.

At the bottom of your door is a foam piece called weatherstripping. This prevents draft and outside air from getting into your home.

The lockset is the mechanism that prevents your door from opening. There are many styles available that your can read more about here.

Parts of a Sliding Patio Door

Since sliding patio doors are constructed differently than entry doors, it goes without saying that they’ll have a few different parts.

learn the parts of a patio door

Sliding patio doors usually have two panels. The sliding panel is the panel that moves while the fixed panel stays in place.

The panels move along the sliding track which consists of a lower track and an upper track. The doors have rollers which help them move along the track.

The latch is the lock of the door while the handle pulls the door open.

Parts of a Storm Door

There’s specific door terminology and parts associated with storm doors as well. For instance, there are 3 different types of storm doors: full-view, mid-view and high-view.

Full-view storm doors have a full piece of glass, mid-view storm doors have a half length glass and high-view storm doors have a piece of glass that is the top 1/3 of the door.

We mentioned above that you can get a metal-mesh screen for your storm doors. These are mesh screens made from metal that are difficult to tear.

Closers determine the speed your storm door closes behind you. They prevent the door from slamming shut or barely closing at all.

On the bottom of your storm door are bottom sweeps. They prevent drafts from getting into your home beneath your door.

Kick plates protect your storm door and add a decorative element.

learn the parts of a storm door

It’s Important to Understand Door Terminology

Understanding door terminology, parts and styles is important to finding the perfect exterior doors for your home. It also helps you determine problem areas of your current doors and how you might be able to fix them.

If you need replacement entry doors, patio doors or storm doors, get a free quote from Feldco. We’ve served 400,000 homeowners in the Midwest with our premium exterior doors and expert installation. See what all the fuss is about.

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