Building entrance doors
Today, we are going to look at another part of DIY timber construction of a small house, tiny cabin, shed or pretty much any type of small wooden structure – exterior door construction. Being the first thing you encounter when entering a house or cabin, the entrance door has quite strong influence on the first impression of the building. It should also function as a barrier to protect you and separate your from outside, so it is beneficial to spend some thoughts on type, material and design of the door. As well as with windows, here you also have three basic options: building entrance doors yourself, having it custom made by a professional or buying already made one.
- A. View of the door from interior
- B. Cross section of door frame
- C. Plan of door
- 1. Battens – door lining
Exterior door construction and elements
Making DIY entrance door does not need to be as difficult as it sounds. Common choice of material for small cabin or tiny house is wood, either more affordable soft woods or more durable but also more expensive hard wood. The basic and most common type of doors, hinged door, which is easy to build, consists of: rails, stiles and wind bracing creating the door frame, exterior shell of the door or door panels, which may have a thermal insulation incorporated inside, door hinges and door handle with lock system. The door closes against a door sill and and threshold on the floor and a door lining installed in a wall frame – in case of exterior door construction in a small house it is a load-bearing wall structure, interior doors can of course be in partition walls as well.
- A. Door handle – simple door opening mechanics
- B. Door hinge
- C. Counterpart of the door opening mechanics
The door stiles are the side vertical supports of your DIY entrance door’s frame, while the rails are horizontal. Wind bracing, the diagonal batten running from top corner to the bottom one, will make your doors firmer. On top of it, exterior door shell made of wooden boards is attached. It can be made double with thermal insulation in between the two layers, just as in the wall framework. In case of more complicated door, there can be more horizontal rails and also muntins or mullions, dividing the door vertically into halves or thirds with door panels inserted between them instead of one big complex door shell.
Door handle with lock system is attached to one of the door stiles, on the swinging side, while door hinges are installed at the other one, the fixed hanging side. They serve to connect the doors to the linings in a wall frame and enable it to swing open. When closed, the door rests against a door sill, the bottom horizontal part of the door frame, which sits directly on the floor framing. On top of it a door threshold is installed, usually slightly sloped raised piece, which covers the bottom part of the door opening, stopping the water and dirt from outside. It can have integrated a weather stripping providing insulation. For the simple DIY entrance door on small house you can do without a sill and threshold with the doors standing directly on top of the floor or flooring surface, although they help to protect your house from weather and also provide a visual boundary between your home and outer world.
- Load-bearing wall structure
- Battens – door lining
- Door frame – load-bearing door structure
- Diagonal wind bracing of the door frame
- Door hinges
- Exterior door shell – made of planks, board or other board materials
- Lock mechanics
DIY entrance door and materials
When building entrance doors, another thing to think of is material. As we already mentioned, in cases of tiny houses, small cabins or other micro houses, wood is the most common choice. It is durable, low-cost and insulates well. Many people also appreciate its visual qualities and wide range of design possibilities. However, there are other materials too. Glass doors also look very nice, make the interior light and warm during the days with sunshine and provide nice views. But their insulation properties are worse, so it is recommended to use high-quality glazing and incorporated weather stripping. Steel doors on the other hand are better insulators and definitely stronger, they provide the best security but are more expensive. Similar goes for the fiberglass doors, only they are much lighter and have bigger variety in terms of final finishes and look. Vinyl doors are also quite popular due to their insulation qualities, light weight or low price but there is a risk of degradation when exposed to a strong sunlight for longer period and they are not as visually pleasing as other materials, which you can use for your DIY entrance door.
Step by step building guide
Do I really need a building permit? Does building entrance doors still sound little bit frightening to you? Well we have a solution! Our step by step guide How to build a tiny house provides many information not only about building entrance doors, but all other parts of DIY timber construction and small house plans. With illustrations, detailed instructions, photographs and many useful information, you will learn all you need to build your dreamy small wooden house. Available to be ordered right now as a printed book or in electronic version here.