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.

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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.
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Monday, 15 October 2018