How to tell a real wooden door from a fake

Mahogany: This wood is the real thing

Do you know how to tell if a custom wood door is the real deal and if it’s Canadian made?

You take pride in your home, investing time and money to create a beautiful environment for yourself and your family. Your home’s exterior door is the first point of contact, a portal in constant use that must be of top quality to provide durable beauty for years to come.

That’s why it’s important to thoroughly research reputable companies and ask key questions about materials and workmanship, educating yourself to know the real from the fake, the quality from the second best.

Customer story: Learning the difference

Careful research led Stephanie, a client from Oakville, to purchase an Amberwood Door system. All materials were sourced locally, manufactured in Canada, and built by skilled craftsmen who paid close attention to the smallest detail.  The finished project was exactly what she’d envisioned from the start, the door was installed on the date promised, and Stephanie happily shared the details of the experience with her friends and neighbours.

Her next-door neighbour Marcy was impressed with how the new exterior doors transformed Stephanie’s house. She decided to replace her own front door, but rather than choosing a local source, she placed her order with a re-seller who promised to deliver the same renovation project for a lower price. It seemed like a bargain too good to pass up.

Turns out, it was.

The process was troubled from the start: After choosing a design, Marcy was dismayed to learn that shipping would be delayed. Numerous phone calls to the seller proved unsatisfactory, and the delivery took over fifteen weeks, with promised materials late to arrive from China and the Ukraine. Marcy began to feel a bit uneasy, had a gut feeling that something was “off.”

When the door finally arrived, Marcy was relieved to see it looked attractive once installed. However, that relief was short-lived. Three months after installation, the lockset needed adjustment. What should have been an easy fix proved to be a series of frustrating delays; because the door was manufactured in another country, it was not possible to obtain replacement parts locally or anywhere throughout Canada.  The re-seller finally obtained the part from China, after Marcy and her family had to contend with a non-working lock for over four weeks.

Marcy thought her troubles were finally over, but then the door’s exterior finish began to crack.  After inspection by an outside repairman, she learned the door had been finished with a lacquer usually reserved for interior use, a product that cannot withstand exposure to the elements.

This long, frustrating experience turned Marcy into a smarter consumer.  Knowing she would have to replace this bargain door, she did her research and learned some important questions to ask before starting her next renovation.

Related: Three ways to make your home stand out in the neighbourhood

How to Spot a Fake

Key questions to ask when buying a new front door:

  1. Is there a Country of Origin certificate available?
  2. Are all parts sourced locally?
  3. Is it possible to see your door being built, and can you check on the progress?
  4. What specific finishes are used on the outside surfaces?
  5. Will the company commit to a delivery date, and can they be reached easily by phone?

Marcy also learned to ask for referrals from established clients and, most of all, to know that if a price quote sounds too good to be true… it very likely is.

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