Painted vs. Stained Wood Doors by Project Type

One of the advantages of designing with wood interior doors for a commercial project is their versatility. Different combinations of wood species, finish, stain and paint colors make for almost limitless options. Paint and stain each offer their own advantages and limitations when specifying wood doors. Depending on whether you’re designing a hotel, school, healthcare facility or office, knowing what separates painted wood doors and stained doors can help you select the best option for your project .

6 Factors that Influence the Choice of Painted or Stained Wood Doors

Both factory applied stain and paint provide a high-quality finish that can complement a wide range of styles. Each has its advantages, much of which depends on the type of project you’re designing and your overall goals. These are some factors to consider when comparing painted or stained wood doors.

1. Cost

Stained wood door products typically cost more than painted wood products, as applying stain evenly and correctly takes great skill. The investment can pay off though, in terms of beauty and long life.

2. Durability

Painted wood has the potential for chipping and scratching, although the door surface type makes a big difference. Additions like impact edges can also help a door last longer.

3. Color

Paint naturally allows a much wider range of colors, and a more predictable color outcome. With stain, the end result varies by the species and wood cut, as well as how it’s applied. Factory stain application lends to better consistency across all doors for a project.

4. Trendy vs. Timeless

Interior design color trends come and go, so your client might end up wanting to update painted doors in the future. Stain often provides a more timeless look, especially with the classic beauty of stile and rail doors.

5. Style

Stained wood doors can contribute to a warmer look, from rustic to sophisticated. Clear stain gives the most natural look which works well, for example, with Scandinavian design styles. On the other hand, painted doors can create a more contemporary look and contribute to a mood, from soothing to playful and anything in between.

6. Door Surface Type

Some door surfaces take stain or paint better than others. You may want to decide on a surface type first, depending on needs for durability and core type.

These factors will help you make smart and stylish design choices, best matched for the functionality of the environment.

modern office building lobby

Choosing Stained and Painted Doors By Project Type


Painted doors are often preferred for hospitality projects. They tend to be economical, durable, and meet any hotel chain’s brand standards. However, wood veneers give you the warmth of wood along with design versatility.

We recommend the Aspiro select wood veneer for lobbies and reception areas and painted MDO doors for guest rooms. Take a look at our guide to Complete Hospitality Door Solutions for a full range of ideas for your next hotel project.


Durability is the name of the game when designing schools and universities. For the highest traffic areas like auditoriums and stairwells, paintable MDO makes a great canvas for school spirit colors. MDO gives premium adhesion for factory-applied paints. Another popular choice for schools, attack-resistant door openings can be specified with painted, laminate or wood veneer surfaces.


High impact surfaces and edges, along with clean edges, meet many of the needs of healthcare facility doors. High impact Aspiro series doors work well in many areas and pair with radiation cores, STC-rated cores and other performance options. Stained Aspiro authentic stile and rail doors make a great impression for lobbies and offices.


Office design styles vary tremendously from hip, creative workplaces to staid and serious professional services offices. Whether you want painted interior doors or stained ones, you are sure to find an option that fits your vision. MDF or MDO surfaces might be best if you have the perfect paint color in mind, while a hardwood or softwood surface can provide a great stainable surface.

Masonite Architectural Has You Covered for Factory Finished Doors

Every space calls for its own solution, meaning there isn’t a wrong or right way to decide between stained and painted doors except to fulfill the requirements of each project completely. However, there are many differences between these styles of doors, and many factors that play a role in selecting the right doors for your desired space. Masonite Architectural offers an expansive catalog of factory painted and factory stained wood doors that provide a consistent, high-quality result for any project type.

We offer a variety of colors and finishes, including seven standard paint colors, 12 stain colors (availability varies by wood species and door series), and custom color matching. Our finishes are also UV resistant and made from environmentally sensitive water based polyurethane.

Ordering paint or stain samples can be a big help by letting you see how a finish looks in natural light and in combination with your other design elements. Request your wood door samples today.

Using Wood Stain Samples When Planning Your Projects

Architecture and design engage all of the senses. Your choices work together to create an immersive experience. For this reason, choosing architectural materials by only seeing them on a screen—in two dimensions and with colors limited by HTML code—can never give you a true sense of their aesthetic qualities. Wood stain samples of architectural doors give you a more realistic and tactile experience to aid you in making the best choices for your projects. Learn more about how to use wood stain samples to your advantage.

What are the Benefits of Ordering Door Stain Samples for Commercial Projects?

There are four main benefits you get when you order door stain samples from Masonite Architectural.

1. Can Preview the Stain Colors in Different Lighting

We all know how much impact lighting makes on the look and feel of a space. Different wood grains and stain colors for doors may look completely different in low light or bright light, and whether the light comes from above or head-on. Samples enable you to visualize the location of interior doors relative to a light source and see how the wood looks.

2. Can Compare Door Colors with Other Design Elements

Various wood species and cuts take stain in different ways, producing variations in color. Easily place wood door samples alongside samples of millwork, furniture and other design elements. This will ensure that your interior entryway choices will fit with and complement everything around them.

3. Helps Clients Envision Their Finished Spaces

A key part of an architect or designer’s job is to enable their client to image the finished space. Showing them wood stain samples in person allows you to do that. They can see and appreciate the quality of the wood, accurately assess the color and texture, and picture the doors in their office, school or other location.

Keep Samples Handy for Quick Reference

When you embark on a project, you have numerous elements and vendor interactions to manage. You can save time by ordering a range of wood door samples so that you have them on hand when you need them.

Why Choose Factory Stained Doors?

Having all of your wood interior doors factory stained helps ensure consistency across your project. The controlled climate of the factory minimizes contact with dust. Doors get adequate drying and curing time in favorable temperatures and humidity. Factory staining also helps with maintaining project timelines, since contractors can install the doors immediately after delivery. If you want a more consistent, efficient and reliable finish in less time, factory-stained wood doors are the solution.

What Stain Colors are Available for Masonite Architectural Doors?

Masonite Architectural offers more than a dozen colors for Cendura Series stained doors; these are also available for Aspiro Series doors. Stain colors range from a clear finish that showcases the natural beauty of the wood, to a deep stout that works with a wide range of design styles. You can request individual 8”x10” samples of specific species-color combinations, or you can select a box of all stain colors in a particular species, in 2”x4” size.

Wood Species Options for All Doors

  • Plain sliced red oak
  • Plain sliced white oak
  • Plain sliced white maple
  • Rotary white birch
  • Plain sliced white birch
  • Rotary natural birch
  • Plain sliced cherry

plain sliced white birch wood with clear factory finished stain
rotary natural birch wood with cinnamon stain

Stain Color Options for Aspiro and Cendura Series Doors

  • Clear
  • Espresso
  • Cinnamon
  • Stout
  • Caramel
  • Honey
  • Cane
  • Nutmeg
  • Toast Bourbon
  • Saffron
  • Rolled Oats
  • Cocoa Bean

plain sliced red oak wood door with toast stain

How to Order Stain Samples from Masonite Architectural

Wood stain samples will guide you toward the best decisions the next time you specify interior wood doors for a hospitality, retail, office or education project. Masonite Architectural would be happy to supply your file of samples. Just fill out a quick sample ordering form, and you should have your samples within one to five business days. Order what you need to plan a current project or prepare for future projects. If you are keeping our veneer samples for reference, please keep them in their original packaging and boxes.  You should store them in a dark closet or cabinet to avoid discoloration from UV and other light sources.  This will ensure that your samples stay in the appropriate color for future reference.

Use Natural Light to Support Thinking and Learning

The concept of daylighting, well known to architects, is catching on with educators, human resources professionals, and others who aim to use natural light to draw out the best work from people. Allowing the flow of natural light through a space supports thinking and learning. As explained by Edutopia in an article titled “The Science of Effective Learning Spaces,” light engages the body’s systems related to sleep-wake cycles and cognitive performance.

It starts with windows and skylights, but also relies on the flow of light within the space. Interior doors with glass lites, transoms and side lites facilitate the flow of natural light into classrooms or offices while still meeting requirements for sound reduction or fire resistance. Consider how glass options for wood doors can contribute to a better environment in your next school or office project.

Exterior Stile and Rail double door with side lites installation

Natural Light in Offices

According to Whole Building Design Guide, “By providing a direct link to the dynamic and perpetually evolving patterns of outdoor illumination, daylighting helps create a visually stimulating and productive environment for building occupants, while reducing as much as one-third of total building energy costs.”

Employees recognize the importance of natural light while they work. In a survey by Future Workplace, they rated it the number one perk for an office environment. Research from multiple sources confirms that natural light positively impacts employee engagement and productivity. It also affects employee health, decreasing eye strain, headaches and fatigue.

As open plan offices are fading from popularity, walls and doors hinder the availability of natural light. Furthermore, employees benefit from quieter environments, so doors with good STC-ratings improve their productivity. In order to get the benefits of both sound reduction and natural light, solid wood doors with glass lites provide an ideal solution.

Natural Light in Education

Educators are also noticing the benefits of daylighting compared with manufactured lighting. The Healthy Schools Network reports that students in naturally-lit educational settings demonstrate better work habits, fewer sick days, and better scores on assessments.

Scientific American reported on a separate study where, over one school year, elementary school students exposed to more sunlight during their school day displayed 26 percent higher reading outcomes and 20 percent higher math outcomes than kids in less sunny classrooms.

Door criteria for schools include features like fire resistance and attack resistance. However, they can still permit the flow of daylight with the strategic placement of glass.

Doors with Glass Lites Facilitate Daylighting

Strategically placed lites in or around doors can allow natural light to pass through while still meeting performance needs. You can customize to a great extent by choosing among size and shape of opening, glass types and finishing options. Masonite Architectural offers a broad range of options for factory glazing to enhance the beauty of any finished door.

These are some of the goals you can achieve with doors with glass lites.


It is possible to specify interior wood doors with 20-minute fire rated glazing. In our Graham Maiman doors, choose our wood bead 20-minute lite kit, with ¼” thick clear glass and 1” bars and muntins. Stile and rail doors may be used in combination with fire rated glazing and metal or wood veneered metal lite kits

Attack resistance

Attack resistant door openings are increasingly in demand for schools. When you specify an attack resistant door solution from Masonite Architectural, you get the benefit of Armoured One’s 5/16” tactical security glass, along with standard metal door frames, metal vision kits, and reinforced hardware. The security glass can slow down or deter an attacker who is trying to gain entry through the glass with a blunt object or a gun.


One drawback to glass lites is that not everyone wants passers-by to see through the door. Different glass options including frosted, reeded or rain-patterned provide privacy while still allowing light to pass. Transoms—glass lites above a door—also permit light without letting someone easily see into a room.

School Administration Offices


French doors offer the maximum flow of light and add elegance to executive offices or conference rooms. Opt for true divided or simulated divided lites. Stile and rail doors can be enhanced and customized with lites in configurations of your choosing. Side lites can create the appearance of a larger, more elegant door opening.


All of Masonite Architectural’s wood interior doors exhibit superior craftsmanship and integrity. With the Aspiro™ Series, you will find full lite or lite panel combinations featuring cope-and-stick joinery and custom profiles.Or choose Cendura™ Series flat panel MDF doors with glass inserts routed directly into the door.

When designing for school or office environments, or any location where people can benefit from natural light, consider how to incorporate glass into interior doors. Door lites offer infinite possibilities for style and function, letting you customize your project and delight clients.

Choosing Interior Doors for Healthcare Projects

Healthcare facilities face a range of challenges, from the pressure to reduce costs to dealing with pandemics. Designing a hospital or other healthcare facility requires an understanding of these demands and products that meet them. Great healthcare facility design—which includes great doors—makes a difference.

The AspiroTM door from Masonite Architectural can be customized to meet the intense demands of healthcare projects. Here we take a look at the aesthetic and performance benefits of Masonite’s AspiroTM series interior wood doors.

How Should Doors Perform in Healthcare Environments?

An article from Whole Building Design Guide explains how architectural design choices can be  important factors for “attracting and retaining the best doctors and nurses, the most successful HMOs and insurance plans, and the most patients.” The author goes on to say, “An aesthetically pleasing facility is a key aspect of the perceived quality of care.” With that in mind, each design choice you make matters to the ultimate success of a healthcare facility.

Meeting construction client demands means limiting construction and design costs, and working on tight schedules, all while delivering a high quality result. You need interior doors that can meet many needs at once.

Doors Tough Enough for Healthcare Facilities

Doors in a hospital or healthcare facility need durability without being too heavy. Picture how people move around a hospital. Staff may walk very quickly, while patients with various ailments may move slowly. People are pushing carts, gurneys and wheelchairs, or carrying things. Nurses and orderlies might open doors by elbowing or kicking them.

To stand up to heavy use in a healthcare setting, an interior door needs:

  • Quality construction
  • The right core type
  • Durable surfaces

You can find many options for all three within the AspiroTM series.

Security Doors That Provide Attractive Openings

In healthcare facilities, people want to see evidence of security to feel safe, but the environment still has to feel welcoming. Features like security cameras and biometric locks enhance security, as do features of the doors themselves.

Attack resistant openings have become more and more in-demand, especially for public spaces. An attack resistant door opening will include:

  • A heavy-duty core
  • Shooter attack glass
  • A metal frame
  • High-quality hardware

Masonite Architectural incorporates all of these elements into its highly attractive and customizable AspiroTM doors.

Medical exam room with Aspiro high impact heavy duty hygienic door

Healthcare Door Features That Contribute to Calm Environments

Healthcare facilities must create a calming effect, both to encourage healing of patients and for the comfort of visitors. As a designer, you contribute to this effect though light, color and acoustics.

Each of these elements comes into play when choosing doors.

AspiroTM doors offer numerous choices in each of these areas.

Hygiene and Interior Doors

Perhaps no element of healthcare facility design matters more than hygiene to reduce the spread of illnesses. Many bacteria and viruses can linger on surfaces, especially those that are used frequently and touched by many people—like interior doors.

These features reduce the chances that healthcare doors will spread germs:

  • Laminates allow for smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces
  • Clean edges eliminate areas where germs would get trapped
  • Automatic doors can reduce the need to touch them entirely

Masonite Architectural offers AspiroTM doors in a wide range of high-pressure decorative laminates (HDPL).

Placement of Doors in Healthcare Facilities

The placement of a door could have implications for the visibility of protected patient information, and therefore HIPAA compliance. Factors that affect visibility and potentially privacy may include:

  • Which ways the doors swings and the resulting sight lines
  • Whether the door contains lites and the type of glass used
  • Whether to place a door in a given opening at all

Masonite Architectural’s interior wood doors come in a broad range of choices, including aesthetic and performance features, making it possible to find all of the doors required for a healthcare project from one source.

Learn More About Masonite Aspiro™ Doors for Healthcare

Take a look at a project that used Masonite Architectural healthcare doors, Clarity Child Guidance Center, and use the DOORSELECTOR™ tool to learn more about options for AspiroTM doors.

Where to Specify Stile & Rail Doors in a School

When specifying doors for a school or education facility, your first thoughts likely relate to safety and durability. While both factors are crucial to a successful education project, don’t overlook the chance to make choices based on aesthetics, too. Performance factors for school doors need not limit your creative vision or refined taste. Stile and rail doors combine both form and function, and make a statement in key areas of a school.

Read on for some inspiration about where to specify stile and rail doors in a school or education facility.

5 Places Where Stile and Rail Doors Can Make a Statement

Public schools often work from publicly approved budgets with little room for leeway, but private schools sometimes offer more opportunity for high-end features. Higher education buildings also tend to offer more allowance for some luxury touches.Regardless of the type of institution where your architectural school doors will be installed, think about spaces used primarily by adults. Spaces where meetings might be held with potential donors, for example, call for a more dignified appearance. Try specifying stile and rail doors for the following spaces:

Masonite Architectural stile and rail doors at university entrance.

1. Executive offices

When executives invite anyone—a parent, a donor, a colleague from another institution—into their office, the doors make a strong first impression. Embellish with sidelites, archtops, metal inlays, or other features to make these particular doors unique.

2. Conference rooms

As a location where school officials may host guests, in addition to conducting their own day-to-day business, conference rooms require a certain sophistication. A wood stile and rail door can welcome everyone to the start of a great meeting. Use double doors for a more stately look and to ease traffic flow.

3. Libraries

Ideally, the demeanor in a library is more studious and less rowdy than, say, a gymnasium. A library may pull double-duty as a space for receptions, book signings, and lectures, too. These are occasions where guests from outside the school community may visit, and school officials will want to put their best foot forward.

4. Arts venues

If a school is fortunate enough to have a theatre or art gallery, they will want it to look its best. Architectural doors leading into these spaces and connecting them with offices or corridors should look the part. A neutral paint color or custom stain can allow a wood door here to look elegant without stealing the show from the artwork.

5. Dormitories

For boarding schools, dormitory areas may play a role in the design. While doors to individual rooms and corridors need to stand up to heavy use and reduce sound transfer, you may want one or two high-end doors in central areas. These can make a strong impression for tours and parent visits.

Stile and Rail Doors Also Offer Performance Features

Stile and rail wood doors do more than look great. With their superior craftsmanship, they can last a long time. You can also find them with performance features like fire ratings, and STC ratings for acoustics. Combine your ideal colors, veneers, wood species and additional features to perfectly complement the rest of your education design project.

Even if you specify only a few stylish stile and rail doors for a given project, you can rest assured that Masonite can supply all of the different types of architectural wood doors you might need. After all, going to fewer suppliers for materials can reduce friction and costs. Remember Masonite Architectural for your next education project, and source all of your wood doors from one manufacturer you can trust.

How Wood Cuts Influence the Look of a Door

When specifying architectural wood doors, the options for customization are almost endless. Different wood cuts, for example, can change the look and style of a door. By adjusting the cut, along with the veneer species and stain, and other choices, you can tailor wood doors to meet a unique look and feel for a project. Review the different wood cut options to understand what will work best to create the look you want in your next project.

Wood Cuts for Interior Wood Doors

Wood makes a beautiful building material because it comes from a living thing, each tree a unique individual. It’s also incredibly versatile, able to be crafted into a work of art or a practical object—or a combination of both, as with an architectural door.

Skilled woodworking involves understanding the natural tendency of a particular species while applying a creative vision for how it can look.

The method for cutting wood determines the grain pattern and consistency in the final product.

Rotary cut veneer for broad pattern door.

Types of Wood Cuts for Architectural Doors

For most species, you can specify plain or flat sliced, rotary cut, or quarter cut. When you specify red or white oak veneers, rift cut and comb grain cuts are become options. Choose the cut for your wood veneer doors that best suits your overall design style and budget.

Rotary Cut

In a rotary cut, the blade spirals inward through the surface of the tree, producing wide sheets of wood that “unroll” from the log. This method produces the least waste, making it environmentally friendly and economical. Wood resulting from a rotary cut displays broad patterns and wide leaves. Its random, non-repetitive grain pattern makes it difficult to match but entirely unique.

Plain Sliced or Flat Cut

Another highly affordable cut for commercial doors, plain slicing produces straighter grains and a more uniform look. Plain sliced veneer may also be called flat cut and it’s the most popular cutting method that our clients request. Each piece of wood yields more slices when cutting straight across than with some, more complicated cuts. Flat cut wood may display a cathedral pattern, comprising rows of arch-shaped markings that run the length of the wood.

Quarter Cut

To create quarter cut wood veneers, a log is first cut into quarters. Then layers are cut from each quarter. Quarter cut veneer produces a tight vertical grain, which tends to produce a uniform look that many clients like. It eliminates arches or cathedral looks that can occur with plain sliced veneer. When cut with this method, oak species tend to show a “flake effect,” or shiny appearance.

Rift Cut

With its open grain texture, red or white oak holds stain well, although the grains of white oak tend to be longer. It also contains medullary rays, a natural occurrence of vein-like structures radiating across the tree’s rings. These structures cause the “flake effect,” giving the wood a reflective look. It will be especially visible if an oak wood veneer door is in a location where it gets direct sunlight.

A rift cut, made at 15 degrees to the radial, reduces the “flake effect” that a quarter cut produces in oak. This angle accentuates the vertical grain. The difference is subtle, and oak can also be cut in a combination of rift and quarter cuts.

Library seen through glass of interior wooden door.

Comb Grain

Like the rift cut, its variation called a comb grain, is also available only in oak. The comb grain is the portion of rift cut slices with the tightest and straightest grain, giving the appearance of an almost solid color. Because this wood cutting method yields a small amount of product, costs are high compared with other cuts.

Barber Pole Effect

Another wood veneer option you might encounter is the “barber pole effect.” To create this effect, the manufacturer alternates the veneer leaves between the inner and outer side of the grain. A stain accentuates the difference between the two. The barber pole effect creates a striking look that is not to everyone’s taste. It has less to do with the cut itself and more to do with how the pieces are assembled.

The Effects of Flitch Type on Wood Cuts

A term you might encounter when exploring wood cuts is flitch. Because logs are cylindrical and veneers are flat, a log must be shaped before it can be cut for veneers. The flitch is the section of the log cut away to expose the surface from which the veneer will be sliced. The flitch size varies, but the cutting method will determine the minimum width. A smaller flitch leaves more of the log to slice into veneer.

Wood Cuts from Heartwood vs. Sapwood

A tree grows from the inside out, and the wood nearest the center is called the heartwood. Heartwood is darker in color than the wood surrounding it, the sapwood.

Depending on the wood cut, a particular veneer may include wood from both the heartwood and sapwood of the same log, resulting in color variation. If you want to stick with only the heartwood, you can specify this as “red,” or for only sapwood, specify “white.”

Factory Staining Commercial Wood Doors

Factory-applied stain allows you to fine-tune your color results while adding a layer of protection to a wood door. Factory application helps ensure color consistency across a project. However, it’s wise to understand how the cut of the veneer wood affects stain results. For example, flat cut or plain sliced wood tends not to receive stain as well as other cuts. While Masonite Architectural offers 13 designer stain finishes, each finish produces different results according to wood species and cut, so talk with a distributor to determine the needs for your project.

Whatever you can envision for architectural doors, Masonite Architectural can help you formulate the right match. With a wide range of wood door styles, veneers, paint and stain, and additional customizations, you will discover the perfect look for an office, hotel, restaurant, or any other incredible new space.