Wood vs. Composite Door Frames? Let Mother Nature decide.

Todd Gibson is Installer Certification Program Manager for ProVia

By Todd Gibson

With the recent launch of our new PermaTech Composite Door frames, you may be wondering – when is composite the best choice? The answer is…it depends. In most instances, we still recommend our traditional wood door frame and brickmold, because this works great in most scenarios.

Composites Combat the Extremes

If you have specific environmental considerations – such as salt spray, high insect populations, or moss – then composite is right for you, because it has anti-insect, anti-fungal, and rot-resistant properties.

High-humidity, high-moisture environments and extreme weather exposure areas can benefit from composites. Also, the north side of a home in a shaded area, where there is moss growing off the side of the house, is a good candidate.

Wood is Still a Great Choice

The typical home application uses ProVia’s pine door frame, clad with our PVC aluminum frame cladding, and sealed up well. This is still a great choice.

When rotting occurs, wood is often not the culprit. When you see a traditional frame that has rotted, you might think a composite frame would have been better. Not always the case. Water can come in contact with the door frame through other avenues, such as improper flashing, or an eave problem. Anytime water works its way to the end of a wood piece, there will be wicking, and if it’s left untreated there will be rotting. ProVia is unique in that we extend the threshold underneath the brickmold, which gives us the ability to seal off the end grain. Most other manufacturers have their brickmold come down and it just hangs out, exposed….or worse, touches the ground.

Composite brickmold and door frames are not a magic bullet for fixing moisture problems. Installation is key. If, in a normal environment, an installer properly seals the frame – especially the bottom – composite framing is really an unnecessary investment. Also, wood framing works very well for a variety of reasons. For example, at the present evolutionary stage of composite framing, we don’t recommend installing a storm door onto it. However, storm doors can easily be installed onto wood frames. Many people – especially in northern climates – like having the ability to add a storm door.

PermaTech Composite Frame by ProVia

Essential Practices for Installing a Composite Door Frame

There’s a unique way to install composite door frames. It’s imperative that installers understand the differences. As with all door installations, always shim behind the hinges, and shim behind all of the installation screws. The critical difference is that composites require five installation screws per side instead of three – with three of the five being near the bottom of the door frame. So composites require several more fastening positions than a traditional installation.

What’s the Best Way to Finish Composite Door Frames?

ProVia paints the interior portion of the frame to match the inside color of the door (just like we do with every other door). And we heartily recommend that the exterior is clad with PVC Aluminum Frame Cladding for a finished look. Although the cladding isn’t needed to protect the PVC from the elements, installation screws are exposed. This is the best way to give the frame a professionally finished appearance in the color of the homeowner’s cladding.

ProVia introduced our PermaTech Composite Door Frames to meet specialized needs in extreme environmental conditions. Other than that, wood is still a great choice. Installed and finished properly, these choices ensure homeowner satisfaction for years to come. Contact us if you want to discuss which will work best for you.

Bring Eyeballs Into Your Showroom – Virtually!
Why Dealers & Distributors Should Want Some POD
 

Comments 5

Guest - Ian Myers on Monday, 20 May 2013 13:34

I need to replace 10 externeral doors and frames and would like to consider composite for both applications, however these would need to be capable of supporting a door entry system

I need to replace 10 externeral doors and frames and would like to consider composite for both applications, however these would need to be capable of supporting a door entry system
Guest - Glenn Pitts on Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:28

I had a contractor install a composite storm door on the south side of my house where there is no shade. I picked it out online and he then went to Home Depot and picked it up.
After only 3 years, the aluminum is pealing off is 10 or more places and exposing the white composite product which is flaking off.
The door is ruined. Now, it probably hasn't been opened 20 times as I never go out that way. There are no kids or pets here either. My advise is don't buy one of these. Now I'm out the price of the door and the installation cost.

I had a contractor install a composite storm door on the south side of my house where there is no shade. I picked it out online and he then went to Home Depot and picked it up. After only 3 years, the aluminum is pealing off is 10 or more places and exposing the white composite product which is flaking off. The door is ruined. Now, it probably hasn't been opened 20 times as I never go out that way. There are no kids or pets here either. My advise is don't buy one of these. Now I'm out the price of the door and the installation cost.
Guest - Poster frames on Thursday, 26 September 2013 05:24

Although maintenance and durability are some factors that work against wood sometimes, I still love the finish and feel of it. Wood emanates a classy feeling, whether used in making doors or poster frames!

Although maintenance and durability are some factors that work against wood sometimes, I still love the finish and feel of it. Wood emanates a classy feeling, whether used in making doors or poster frames!
Guest - Iris ten Holder on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 16:06

I found the acknowledgement of the dirferences between wood and PVC very helpful. A PVC frame does snot have the :spine: strength wood has. It is very fexible and that is not an advantage when one tries to square the frame and even more when the uprights need to be plumb and straight all the way. Extra fiddling with shims and extra screw: YES, mandatory. The frame must get its strength from what it is attached to; it has none of its own.

Iworked with pieces of wood of the exact length to ensure the width from top to bottom was uniform. The frame can "buckle" so I also made sure I had a long straight edge (I used a long level) to check the jamb sides. They must be plumb in two dimensions, sideways and front to back. Keep track of the diagonal to ensure the frame is square..

Someone with the right jargon can probaly explain this better, so that might be a helpful gesture. Since PVC frames are not new, all may already have been told.

Feedack and confirmation or otherwise are welcome.

I found the acknowledgement of the dirferences between wood and PVC very helpful. A PVC frame does snot have the :spine: strength wood has. It is very fexible and that is not an advantage when one tries to square the frame and even more when the uprights need to be plumb and straight all the way. Extra fiddling with shims and extra screw: YES, mandatory. The frame must get its strength from what it is attached to; it has none of its own. Iworked with pieces of wood of the exact length to ensure the width from top to bottom was uniform. The frame can "buckle" so I also made sure I had a long straight edge (I used a long level) to check the jamb sides. They must be plumb in two dimensions, sideways and front to back. Keep track of the diagonal to ensure the frame is square.. Someone with the right jargon can probaly explain this better, so that might be a helpful gesture. Since PVC frames are not new, all may already have been told. Feedack and confirmation or otherwise are welcome.
Guest - nICHOL aLEXANDER on Sunday, 17 April 2016 10:06

Just want my 2 cents about my adventures with vinyl door jambs and doors... Everything Iris said is 100% true; I'm living this process, have been since 2015 when I installed our first set of double garden doors on our bungalow. Could I pick a more challenging project? Much to my disappointment when I unpacked our doors they did not have any thresholds, which meant we had to find and replace that section of the doors with something if we didn't want to wait another 3 months for the part. I did this and took a shot at the install. I have plenty of previous experience with all kinds of doors, I'm confident with shimming and tweaking for a nice fit... I had these doors in and out like a yo-yo, constantly making the opening tighter, more plumb, until there was no room for improvement. Still, no avail. I then placed a tape measure along the top of the jamb just to discover that one piece was out of square by 3/4 of an inch! I couldn't believe it, how could I be set up for all these failures in one project? I then had to order new jamb material from the vendor waiting another 6 weeks for the material so it matched. Finally got it, rebuilt the jamb and the doors finally functioned. We have a 2nd set of the same doors with the same scenario, out by 5/8 of an inch. Needless to say they had to be covered over winter and stored because the first set was so delayed to be finished. It is now spring 2016 and in spite of all our learning from the first ones, the struggles are the same; we just know how to resolve the individual issues. It is April 17th and after one more adjustment today, the doors should function.

Overwintering the second set of doors was heartbreaking and made us uncomfortable but we had no choice, we get about 6 months in our parts. This process also took a toll on the vinyl since the doors had no structure around them to keep the vinyl plumb and straight. The top of the jamb became so bowed that when placed on side it can be rocked back and forth. Fortunately we had the second jamb replacement since the top was 5/8 out of square. We had a few issues with the hinges fitting back in their locations, I suspect this is because the jamb sides also warped a bit, evident by how we had to clamp and force them to a plumb position. We resolve a this by tapping out some material so the hinges would fit.

All in all the experience has been draining. You can be the most careful person but the product took a cosmetic beating with all the necessary alterations. What we further learned about vinyl, is that if has 100% NO STRUCTURAL SUPPORT. If you attempt an install all the support must be provided by a perfectly level, plumb and square opening which is sized within about 1/4 inch of the jamb. Only then will you be able to finesse and shim the jamb for a nice fit. You will most certainly require large, long fasteners to hold the vinyl in check as it is susceptible to temperature changes. We used 3 1/2 inch # 14's. Do not be surprised when the doors fit better in the shade and cold but tight in the full sun and heat.

When you receive your doors, do not accept them if they are incomplete and the top is out of square. If they require rebuilding the doors loose integrity and suffer damages; they should come pre hung with accuracy. At this point I am unsure why they sell them without backing the vinyl jamb with lumber?

The doors we ordered are supposed to be a premium product with a huge cost of $2100 per set from Home Depot Canada. The physical materials ounce collapsed cost less then %25 and we have invested many long days trying to install and correct all the problems. We are currently trying to recoup some money for all the issues which were the fault of the vendor Masonite.

Just want my 2 cents about my adventures with vinyl door jambs and doors... Everything Iris said is 100% true; I'm living this process, have been since 2015 when I installed our first set of double garden doors on our bungalow. Could I pick a more challenging project? Much to my disappointment when I unpacked our doors they did not have any thresholds, which meant we had to find and replace that section of the doors with something if we didn't want to wait another 3 months for the part. I did this and took a shot at the install. I have plenty of previous experience with all kinds of doors, I'm confident with shimming and tweaking for a nice fit... I had these doors in and out like a yo-yo, constantly making the opening tighter, more plumb, until there was no room for improvement. Still, no avail. I then placed a tape measure along the top of the jamb just to discover that one piece was out of square by 3/4 of an inch! I couldn't believe it, how could I be set up for all these failures in one project? I then had to order new jamb material from the vendor waiting another 6 weeks for the material so it matched. Finally got it, rebuilt the jamb and the doors finally functioned. We have a 2nd set of the same doors with the same scenario, out by 5/8 of an inch. Needless to say they had to be covered over winter and stored because the first set was so delayed to be finished. It is now spring 2016 and in spite of all our learning from the first ones, the struggles are the same; we just know how to resolve the individual issues. It is April 17th and after one more adjustment today, the doors should function. Overwintering the second set of doors was heartbreaking and made us uncomfortable but we had no choice, we get about 6 months in our parts. This process also took a toll on the vinyl since the doors had no structure around them to keep the vinyl plumb and straight. The top of the jamb became so bowed that when placed on side it can be rocked back and forth. Fortunately we had the second jamb replacement since the top was 5/8 out of square. We had a few issues with the hinges fitting back in their locations, I suspect this is because the jamb sides also warped a bit, evident by how we had to clamp and force them to a plumb position. We resolve a this by tapping out some material so the hinges would fit. All in all the experience has been draining. You can be the most careful person but the product took a cosmetic beating with all the necessary alterations. What we further learned about vinyl, is that if has 100% NO STRUCTURAL SUPPORT. If you attempt an install all the support must be provided by a perfectly level, plumb and square opening which is sized within about 1/4 inch of the jamb. Only then will you be able to finesse and shim the jamb for a nice fit. You will most certainly require large, long fasteners to hold the vinyl in check as it is susceptible to temperature changes. We used 3 1/2 inch # 14's. Do not be surprised when the doors fit better in the shade and cold but tight in the full sun and heat. When you receive your doors, do not accept them if they are incomplete and the top is out of square. If they require rebuilding the doors loose integrity and suffer damages; they should come pre hung with accuracy. At this point I am unsure why they sell them without backing the vinyl jamb with lumber? The doors we ordered are supposed to be a premium product with a huge cost of $2100 per set from Home Depot Canada. The physical materials ounce collapsed cost less then %25 and we have invested many long days trying to install and correct all the problems. We are currently trying to recoup some money for all the issues which were the fault of the vendor Masonite.
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Friday, 25 May 2018