Hollow Core Vs. Solid Doors

17 Replies

In a B/C apartment that needs interior door slabs replaced. Would you use the less expensive hollow core slabs or would you go with the more expensive solid door slabs? And why...

Always hollow core. Cheap to fix "when" the renter damages.

Light weight. Have you tried to carry and install a solid core door?

I take the opposite approach from Arlan.  Hollow cores seem to be magnets of destruction in our C level apartments.  Fix it once, or fix it 10 times....I prefer to touch it once.  No way they will put their fist through a solid core.

Keep in mind this is with a C level tenant.

I used to use hollow core luan doors almost exclusively.  Then had 2 properties and I switched to solid core flush doors.  They are in stock at HD and only cost slightly more.  Very much more durable.

@Dick Rosen  

 I agree with the solid core doors. I am renovating a duplex and we decided to go with the solid doors since we are trying to attract nicer tenants and making upgrades where we feel that we can. They feel nicer to open and close, they don't cost much more, and they really help with the sound (who wants to hear others going to the bathroom?). They are really heavy, but worth it in the end, I think.

Also you can save a little money by getting the hollow core doors for the hall closets or other doors where sound is not an issue.

Solid doors look better if you need to cut them to fit if not made custom. 

I will definitely go with solid core doors. The hollow core doors, once someone puts a hole in them, do not look very nice.  You can cover them with a mirror (as was Brandon's suggestion in a blog post) but you can only do that so often.  I find that the hollow core doors also chip at the bottom and tops and over time look bad.  With a solid core door you can fill a chip with wood filler, sand, and paint over and it can look good as new.

The older 1950s homes I buy generally all have solid core doors which can take a lot of abuse.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I think my reasoning has been confirmed that solid is the way to go. The only real drawback I see is that they are heavy, you can't hang one by yourself, which can add to the cost of the door nut I do think the benefits out-weigh the cost.

I don't understand the reluctance to hollow core doors associated with the comments of them being damaged by tenants.  We must do things very differently here, because if the tenant damages the door, they are paying for it to be replaced. I could careless if the door is made from paper mache or carbon fiber when it comes to durability. The replacement costs are 100% passed through costs.

Good point Mike but with B/C apartments we don't always get repairs paid for by vacated tenants.

@Dick Rosen  grow stronger! :)

For lower end properties do yourself an additional favor when dealing with doors. Depending upon the area you might do this for just your exterior doors or all doors on the property:

To Reduce Wear from Abuse

  • Use longer than standard screws on the hinge plates of the doors you install.
  • Increase the number of hinges you install from 2 or 3 to 5 or 6. This distributes force exerted on the door more evenly.
  • Buy heavy duty strike plates and install those. Do not use the strike plate that comes with your door knobs. Use longer screws when affixing the plates here too.

In High Crime Areas

  • Get a brass (or stainless steel) wrap around plate too. This makes the well-known "credit card trick" more difficult to execute effectively.
  • Get a stainless steel door frame or an extremely sturdy (ash or oak) wooden frame. This makes it much harder to kick in the door.

@Jeff G.  I don't have much trouble with exterior doors, mostly bedroom doors. I think its angry boyfriends :)

Regarding your list... a locksmith told me years ago and I've been using this ever since with 100% success. Use a single deadbolt and a passage doorknob instead of a locking entry doorknob. If they need a key to lock the door they won't ever lock themselves out and never have to break in! 

Originally posted by @Dick Rosen :

but with B/C apartments we don't always get repairs paid for by vacated tenants.

Ah, good point!

Here's the deal with doors, @Dick Rosen   - they get damaged.  So the 2 questions are:

1. Which will get damaged more often?

2. Which, when they do get damaged, will be more fixable?

First, regardless of which you go with, be sure they are flat - un-textured.  If you have to fill a whole or deep scratch, you can do it with flat surface a lot easier.  Next - buy green wood, unfinished.  Paint hides things :)

B Class - you can go with solid.  They'll last forever.

C Class - hollow core.  That class of tenant will be destroying anything you put in, therefore spend the least amount you must :)

Hope this helps.

Originally posted by @Ben Leybovich :

C Class - hollow core.  That class of tenant will be destroying anything you put in, therefore spend the least amount you must :)

You are so right Ben... once again you make me smile.

Originally posted by @Mike F. :

I don't understand the reluctance to hollow core doors associated with the comments of them being damaged by tenants.  We must do things very differently here, because if the tenant damages the door, they are paying for it to be replaced. I could careless if the door is made from paper mache or carbon fiber when it comes to durability. The replacement costs are 100% passed through costs.

 Regardless if the tenant pays for it or if the landlord pays for it, the door is still going to the garbage.  The idea is to keep things out of the garbage if possible.

Originally posted by @Dick Rosen :

In a B/C apartment that needs interior door slabs replaced. Would you use the less expensive hollow core slabs or would you go with the more expensive solid door slabs? And why...

Almost a year later and I had the same question - albeit for my primary. Thanks, saves me from posting what has already been answered to give me thought on what to do with rentals.

I always go with solid.  They are more durable and easier to fix or adjust. Plus they look and feel better.  I use them on closets too; I hate bi-fold doors!

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