Building a door frame is no straightforward task, and there are several decisions you must make. Depending on where the door is located, you must consider costs, structure and the type of wood.

With this article, we discuss the different woods available and their pros and cons for your door frame project.

Hardwoods are an excellent choice for external doors because they stand up to the elements better. Species like white oak or if you’ve got the money, mahogany or teak. For internal doors popular choices are pine, maple and poplar (a hardwood that’s not very dense).

Let’s take an in-depth look at why these particular options are the 6 best types of wood for a door frame.

External door frames

When building an external door frame, the primary considerations are strength and aesthetics. You need a frame that will stand against anyone trying to break in, that will take the harshest weather mother nature has to throw at it, and that will last (and look good) for years.

You also want a frame that matches your external door and the surrounding structure.

Because of these criteria, the best wood types for an external frame tend to be hardwood. For strength and weather durability, you just can’t beat them. And hardwoods always looks good. Let’s have a look at three types you can use for your external door frame.

Mahogany is a tropical hardwood and its distinctive red-brown color is both beautiful and durable. A mahogany door frame oozes quality and will last for decades. It has excellent strength and the wood naturally resists rot. It is therefore an excellent choice for external frames subject to heavy weather.

Mahogany wood
Mahogany is red-brown color is both beautiful and durable

Teak is another tropical hardwood. Grey-brown, teak darkens as it ages and looks stunning at any age. It contains natural oils that make it both weather and pest resistant. This combined with its natural tensile strength makes it an excellent choice for an external door frame.

Teak wood
Teak contains natural oils that make it both weather and pest resistant

White oak is a popular hardwood native to many parts of North America. Its structure makes it water and rot resistant, and it has high strength. All the features you want in an external door frame. But white oak’s major selling point is the price. You can usually find it much cheaper than mahogany or teak. So if you’re looking for a hardwood frame at a reasonable price, check out white oak.

White oak wood
White oak is water and rot resistant, and has high strength

Usually, hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods. So, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that is still almost as good as those mentioned above, you could try Douglas Fir. It is a softwood, but it’s almost as strong and durable as the hardwoods mentioned. And with the right coatings, it will last a long time.

Internal door frames

Internal doors don’t need to put up with the weather or have to stand up to a break in. So strength isn’t as much of an issue. This means that the primary considerations for an internal frame are really price and aesthetics.

Because of this, builders and woodworkers make most internal door frames from softwoods. So, let’s look at three softwood options for your internal frames.

Pine is an evergreen softwood that grows in most of the northern hemisphere. It is also one of the longest living organisms on the planet, with one tree being dated at almost 5,000 years old. Pine is probably the most commonly used wood for internal door frames. It is cheap, easy to work with and looks good untreated, stained or painted. The only point to note is that pine is quite soft and will dent from knocks easily. If your building a door frame that might take some punishment, you might be better off with one of these other options.

Pine trees
Pine wood is the most common wood used for internal door frames.

Poplar is a good option for internal frames. The hardwood known as poplar isn’t actually from the poplar tree but from tulip trees. Although it is a hardwood, it has characteristics similar to some softwoods, because it is very easy to work with and is relatively cheap. It does not have the weather resistance of some other hardwoods and hence it’s used mainly indoors. But it takes a knock better than pine, so could be a better choice for frames that will see heavy use.

Tulip Tree
Poplar/Tulip tree wood is very easy to work with and is relatively cheap

Maple, although not as popular as pine, can be an interesting choice. It is a strong and good-looking wood that can make a fine frame. Common in North America and parts of Asia, they use maple in construction but also in musical instruments, baseball bats, and pulp. Maple is a wonderful choice for its distinctive look, so if you’re thinking of a clear finish, maple could be your wood.

Maple trees
Maple wood is strong and good-looking wood that can make a fine frame.

Other Woods to Consider

While these 6 wood types are some of the best and most common used for door frames, there are other options you could consider.

Oak is a good-looking wood that can make excellent framing material and is another one often used when the frame will have a clear finish. But oak can be a little harder to work with, so keep that in mind. Cedar is another distinctive wood that can be used in frames. MDF, although not a solid wood, can be used in door frames because it offers good dimensional stability.

But just remember, no matter the choice of wood for your door frame, make sure you inspect the wood before you buy. A door frame needs to keep its shape. Any warpage or shrinkage will mean your door won’t fit properly and will either jam or let in a draft. To avoid these issues, make sure you use well-seasoned wood and seal it properly.


So that’s it. The 6 best types of wood for a door frame.

If you’re looking to build your next door frame, now you know what types of wood to look out for and which type of wood suits indoor and outdoor use. Whichever of these woods you choose, with the right preparation, build and finishing, you’ll have a frame that will last for a very long time.

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Thanks for reading, and good luck with your framing projects!