Are Engineered Oak Doors Really Made of Oak?
When you look for oak doors, one of the terms you will come across regularly are engineered oak doors. Would we surprise you by telling you that engineered “oak” doors typically only contain about 1.5% oak?
Engineered Oak Doors
An engineered oak door refers to an oak door that has been made up from multiple parts glued together. These come in many forms, but the most common have a core made from chipboard or MDF with a thin oak veneer over the surface to give the appearance that the door is made of oak.
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When you look for oak doors, one of the terms you will come across regularly is an engineered oak door. Would we surprise you by telling you that engineered “oak” doors typically only contain about 1.5% oak?
Why are engineered oak doors cheap?
Engineered oak doors are very competitively priced, but to achieve that price manufacturers reduce the cost of making the door. So how do are they doing it?
In short, there is very little oak in an engineered “oak” door. In fact a typical engineered door contains only around 1.5% oak! On many of these doors, the only oak is the thin veneer to the front and rear face. This is often only 0.3mm thick.
Is an engineered door still an ‘oak door’?
Manufacturers know oak is expensive. They use cheaper materials to make the door cost effectively. However purists find it hard to say that these are actually an oak door!
How are they made?
An engineered oak door typically uses chipboard or “particleboard” for the bulk of the core.
Around the 4 edges, there are thin sections of timber, known as “lippings”. These are there to allow you to trim the door a little without seeing the chipboard core. In some cases these will be real oak, but often they are a much cheaper lookalike timber such as poplar or tulipwood.
The picture above shows a typical engineered door with poplar lippings.
So what are the pros & cons of engineered oak doors versus solid oak doors?
Price is the main benefit of an engineered oak door. They are often less than half the price of a solid oak door.
Little Trimming Allowance & Long Lead Times For Custom
There are a few drawbacks. You are very limited in how much you can trim an engineered oak door. The thickness of the lipping dictates how much you can remove before you cut into the chipboard. Almost every engineered door is imported from the far east. This tends to mean custom sized doors take 12-16 weeks to arrive!
Easily Damaged & Little Character
In addition, the veneers used in these doors are extremely thin. This makes the door vulnerable to damage that cannot be repaired It also usually means a very limited choice of veneers can be used which can to lead to a rather blank looking door.
A solid oak door tends to have more character, and is an investment that will last several lifetimes. Engineered oak doors fill an important sector of the market. However they are not really comparable in many ways to a solid oak door.