Skip to Content

The 7 Best Types of Wood for a Door Frame 

The best types of wood for a door frame are yellow pine, douglas fir, and white or red oak. Other options include hard maple, yellow poplar, and Honduran maple. Eastern red cedar is also an excellent choice.

Now, let’s dive into the details about each type of wood and how to best use them.

1. Yellow Pine 

Yellow pine is one of North America’s most common trees processed into lumber. It works well for most applications, though use is typically restricted to structural elements. Yellow pine boasts a higher Janka hardness rating (870) than the second most popular 2×4 (61 x 122 cm) lumber, douglas fir (660). 

Pine generally doesn’t work well for exterior applications because it’s negatively impacted by humidity and temperature, causing it to warp and crack. For this reason, it’s often used for interior framing projects, which are then wrapped in a vapor barrier to keep moisture out.

Yellow pine is classified as a softwood, indicating that it can scratch and dent somewhat easily. This softness makes it attractive as a framework wood for doors since it can expand and contract without cracking. Treated pine can withstand moisture and temperature swings better, and its density is prized for joining.

Recommended Uses 

Yellow Pine is the most common 2×4 (61 x 122 cm) you can buy, making it an affordable and high-performance choice for a door opening’s inner studs. If you plan on using pine for visible parts, make sure it’s free of knots before installing it in an area less prone to wear. Yellow pine is soft and dense, making it an excellent choice for door jambs, where it firmly holds screws to support the door weight. 

2. Douglas Fir 

Douglas fir is a popular lumber classified as a softwood that performs like a hardwood. I spoke over the phone with contractor Victor Vankraayenburg and asked him which door frame woods he preferred to work with. Douglas fir topped his list. “Most use either Douglas fir or pine. The fir is more dimensionally stable,” he said. “It’s important to get kiln dried [lumber], so the sap doesn’t weep through the paint.” 

You can find a wide range of douglas fir cuts at reasonable prices. For instance, it’s often cut into 2x4s (61 x 122 cm) or construction as it holds fasteners well and holds up to moisture. Fir has a higher Janka hardness rating than white pine and has superior strength and durability. 

Douglas fir is an attractive wood with straight grain that finishes well, making it excellent for every application. That said, it’s a softwood with a lower hardness rating than yellow pine, so it also scratches and dents with little effort. 

Recommended Uses 

Douglas fir is another common 2×4 (61 x 122 cm) and can be used for structural and visual elements. Due to its softness, however, it may incur more damage than pine will when installed in high-wear areas. Use it for door jambs, king/jack studs, headers, heads, etc. 

Related How to Fix Scratches on Wood Door (And 6 Quick Alternatives).

3. White or Red Oak

White oak is an abundant and affordable hardwood widely used on exterior applications such as boats and doors. It’s strong and resists rot well, and its cells contain tyloses that preclude moisture intrusion, but it takes paint and stains well. 

With a 1360 hardness rating, white oak performs beautifully indoors as furniture and cabinetry, owing to its textured grain patterns and rock-solid durability. It’s also renowned for its ability to take a big hit and look untouched. 

For doors and doorways, white oak tops the list of affordable and workable hardwoods for high-traffic areas. Water and other moisture from shoes and animals won’t affect it, especially when properly sealed. 

Red oak is another oak hardwood, like white oak. Unlike white oak, red oak is a porous hardwood, meaning its cells are open for moisture to enter and become trapped. Trapped moisture leads to invasive bacteria, which can lead to rot.  

Red oak is a robust and tough hardwood with a 1290 Janka hardness rating. However, it has poor rot resistance, making it better suited for interior projects. Also, though oaks are dimensionally stable woods, red oak is more susceptible to environmental pressures.

Recommended Uses

White oak works well for most situations but could be overkill in hidden spots that don’t require such high durability. It’s a fantastic choice for door frame stops and trim because it will last a long time. Prized for outdoor applications, white oak makes great exterior door lumber. 

Red oak is softer to work with than white oak but has trademark oak toughness at a lower price, so it fits right in with trims and other exposed frame parts. It’s more absorbent than white oak, making grain patterns pop in highly visible areas.

4. Hard (Sugar) Maple

Hard maple is a dependable hardwood for most door frame components. However, its poor rot resistance makes it unsuitable for exterior door frames. That said, it’s consistently nice-looking, with even colors and grain patterns. 

Hard maple is an attractive species whose sapwood becomes lumber for basketball courts and baseball bats—testaments to its enduring toughness. Hard maple stands up to testing with a whopping 1450 Janka hardness rating but gets hot under high-speed power tools.

Quarter-sawn hard maple is known for having incredible patterns and figures that shouldn’t be covered with paint (one could argue as much for every wood on this list). Clear hard maple lumber will take and hold paint well. 

Recommended Uses

If you’re covering up ordinary cuts of maple lumber with paint, you’ll find hard maple easy to cover. It doesn’t have a rough or prominent grain that soaks up paint and stands out. Use non-figured maple for indoor jambs and stops. It makes for great trim but cut it at lower speeds to avoid burn.

Related The 4 Cheapest Places To Buy Lumber.

5. Yellow Poplar 

Yellow poplar is best suited for interior work since it is moderately rot-resistant and insects like it. Despite its hardwood classification, it registers a moderate 540 Janka hardness rating. It’s a soft hardwood, meaning it can dent very easily. 

This wood is an inexpensive and plentiful lumber variety found in most home improvement and hardware stores. The sapwood and heartwood contrast with each other, which shows through light-colored paints if the wood needs to be better primed. 

However, if you have poplar lumber with undesirable colors, this Woodworking Network article suggests setting the wood outside to tan into typical wood hues. 

Poplar is great to work with, responding to power and hand tools easily. It holds fasteners and glues well but isn’t a primary choice for major structural elements. 

Recommended Uses

Moldings are a good place because poplar is flexible and works easily with tools. Shaping isn’t difficult, but it needs sanding. This ease of use and versatility makes poplar a standard lumber for crown molding. However, don’t expect it to hold an edge amidst regular traffic, as it won’t survive many dings.

Related Can I Use Primer as Paint? | What Will Happen if You Don’t.

6. Honduran (American) Mahogany 

Honduran mahogany (American mahogany et al.) is known for strength and density. Its 900 Janka hardness rating backs its popular reputation as a dependable structural wood suitable for most projects. 

Mahogany is an expensive trim option and would be considered an upgrade for showy door frame elements. It holds carved edges well that can stand up to daily abuse and looks stunning for decades. If you’re making your own door and want secure and good-looking wood, you can’t go wrong with Honduran mahogany. 

Its weather resistance is world-famous. Shipwrights constructed entire ships out of Honduran mahogany, a practice continued today in modern boat making, though typically limited to trim and cabin features. This bodes well for exterior doors and door frames where you anticipate copious amounts of wind and rain.

Recommend Uses

Mahogany is a lovely wood perfect for trim work because you can add finer details without worrying about their durability. While it costs more than other options on this list, mahogany delivers if you want an upgraded look for a front entryway. 

Use it for:

  • Architraves
  • Heads
  • Stops
  • Liners

7. Eastern Red Cedar 

Eastern red cedar is a softwood with a generous Janka rating of 900, making it suitable for a broad range of applications. However, it can dent and ding with regular use. It’s highly rot-resistant and long-lasting, even when subjected to long periods of water exposure. 

People hold eastern red cedar in high regard for its fabulous color and time-honored weather resistance. Builders make rugged fences and rain-resistant outdoor furniture from red cedar because it lasts a long time under harsh conditions and resists destructive insects. 

Eastern red cedar has high dimensional stability, another bonus for outdoor use since it won’t change with humidity and temperature fluctuations. It also means cedar 2x4s (61 x 122 cm) work nicely for structural frame pieces, though it seems a waste to hide wood with such high visual appeal.

Red cedar’s color lasts longer indoors, though indoor placement makes it more susceptible to daily wear and tear. Outdoors, the color fades with sun exposure but can be refreshed with stain and a protective clear coat. It takes stains well, with heavy grain presence on display, which may not work well for interior applications where the trim is painted and needs to match. 

Recommended Uses

Use on exterior doors frame pieces like trim and molding. The natural wood color will last with regular maintenance and stand up to myriad weather conditions, so use it where rot resistance is paramount. Indoor cedar trim looks tremendous but will show wear and tear quickly, so limit your use to jambs and heads. 

People Also Ask

What Size Wood Do You Use for a Door Frame?

Use ¾-inch (1.9 cm) thick, 6-inch (15.24 cm) wide, and 8-foot (244 cm) long lumber for most door frame components. You can rip a plank into thinner widths for the door frame stops and trim pieces. 

Here is a table of standard door frame component dimensions. Always measure the dimensions of the doorway and door you’re working with to obtain the right dimensional lumber for the job:

Frame ComponentCommon Dimensions
Exterior door frame stop (width x depth)2–½” x ⅜” (64 mm x 10 mm)
Door jamb (width x depth)4–9/16” x 11/16” (115.9 mm x 17.46 mm)
2×4 (61 x 122 cm) Stud framing (width depth) 1–½” x 3–½” (38 mm x 89 mm) 

Can You Make Your Own Door Frame?

You can make your own door frame with basic tools and lumber. Check out this video from DIY experts Your New House, showing how to build an opening and frame for a door: 

How Can I Prevent Wood Rot on Exterior Door Frames?

You can prevent wood rot on exterior door frames by coating the wood with a sealant or paint. Rot comes from moisture and fungus, so you need a barrier between the wood and sources of moisture.

Keeping the wood coated requires regular maintenance, including visual inspection, to keep cracks in check. If a crack develops, that becomes an entry point for water and insects.

I hope this article has been informative.

Thanks for reading!

For more, check out The 4 Best Types of Paint for Metal Doors.