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A Guide to Stile and Rail Wood Doors

Doors | Frames | Hardware

When it comes to choosing new doors for your building, there are a wide variety of styles, materials, and features for you to choose from depending on your needs and your budget. Stile and rail doors are a classic style of wood door that is highly customizable for any space. But what are they and how do you know if they are the right fit for your commercial facility? Keep reading to learn more about stile and rail doors!

What Is a Stile and Rail Door?

Stile and rail doors are a type of wood door. A typical flush wood door gives the appearance of a flat wood door with a solid or hollow core construction. Stile and rail doors are different because they are made from multiple vertical and horizontal wood pieces (known as stiles and rails) that are pieced together with panels or glass to form a finished door with a distinct appearance.

How Are Stile and Rail Doors Made?

There are five main components to a stile and rail door, each with a specific function:

  1. Stile: The vertical pieces of the door with a vertical wood grain. On a standard door, these measure approximately 5-6 inches in width. Stiles make up the outer edge of the door and help to hold panels in place. The width of the stiles is important for determining the correct locking hardware.
  2. Rail: The horizontal pieces of the door with a horizontal grain. On a standard door, these measure approximately 6 inches in height for the top rail and 10 inches for the bottom rail*. Along with stiles, rails form the door’s top and bottom edge, provide strength, and hold the panels. It’s important to consider the height of the rails when choosing the correct door closers, kickplates, etc.
    *Note: the bottom rail must measure at least 10 inches tall per ADA requirements.
  3. Intermediate Stile (or Mullion): These are stiles located toward the center of the door that separate the interior panels. They also help contribute to the sturdiness of the door.
  4. Crossrail/Midrail: These are the rails located in the middle of the door that separate and hold the panels of the door.
  5. Panel: The panels are the decorative components of the stile and rail door. They float within the stile and rail design, allowing room for shifting and expanding with the seasons and protecting the door. Panels can be made of a variety of materials including wood, glass (lites), or even louvers. Stile and rail doors can also have varying numbers of panels to customize their look. They can also have a raised or flat profile. The thickness of the panel depends on the fire rating of the door.

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A stile and rail door is made from 12 or more components. They are precisely cut and attached using dowel pins and glue. Similar to the wood beads that hold the glass in place for glass (lite) openings in flush wood doors, stile and rail doors use beads or “sticking” to hold wood panels in place. Once all the pieces are put together like a puzzle, the result is a sturdy, classic-looking door that almost seems as though it is carved from a single piece of wood.

These types of doors are typically made from veneered wood over a laminated strand lumber (LSL) or particleboard core inner construction, but they can be made from solid wood. The veneer used in the construction of stile and rail doors is thicker than that used in the production of a flush wood door. Stile and rail doors require thicker veneer due to the amount of sanding necessary to construct them, especially near the panels. Wood veneered stile and rail doors have a solid core for decreased sound transmission and increased strength and durability. The veneer creates a smooth surface, perfect for staining or painting.

Why Choose a Stile & Rail Door?

The craftmanship involved with making a stile and rail door can make them a more expensive option, however it also makes them a long-term investment – they are more durable and sturdier than a typical flush door. They are also more sound resistant. Stile and rail doors can be fire rated to satisfy commercial building code requirements with options for 20-, 45-, 60-, and 90-minute ratings.

Aside from the technical benefits, stile and rail doors can also be preferable from an aesthetic perspective. Their high level of detail, crisp lines, balanced designed, and defined panels give them a high-end appearance. They are also customizable – the size, material, arrangement, shape, and number of panels gives each a unique look, like a French door. When it comes to stile and rail doors, the options are endless to fit a wide variety of styles and project types; therefore, their classic look makes them a great addition to many historic remodels or traditionally designed new builds.

The Door Experts

The experts at LaForce have been specializing in doors since 1954 – we can help you choose the right door for your opening, whether you need stile and rail wood doors or one of our other wide varieties of door offerings. We can also supply you with frames, hardware, keying services, building specialties, and electronic security solutions for your next build or remodel!

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