HOW DO DIFFERENT COLOURS AFFECT MY TIMBER FRONT DOOR?
To be honest, this is a question we’ve never had from our customers, but it’s caused a bit of grief a couple of times later on down the track after customers are living in their home, so we thought we’d discuss it and present it in the form a question – how do different colours affect my timber front door?
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that just a different colour wouldn’t cause any problems – a coat of paint seems so harmless. Of course, paint is very important to help protect the door from the weather, you can’t hang an external timber door and then leave it without paint – it would start to deteriorate quickly and end up with a door in a bad state.
But paint comes in many different colours. And colours certainly can play a part in how a door performs.
There’s plenty of examples of how a dark object absorbs heat and the same object in a light colour reflects the heat. The object is the same, it’s only the colour that makes the difference. In physics, it means that a darker colour absorbs energy into the object and a lighter colour deflects the energy away. And what a difference it can make!
Let’s just look at how a timber door works. It’s a ‘package’ of timber that’s made up of a frame and panels and facings to provide a heavy door to keep both intruders and the weather out. But this door must also be exactly square and flat and accurate in size so that it seals perfectly against the door jamb. If it doesn’t seal properly then the door’s not really doing its job properly – letting heat out in the winter and whistling draughts in the windy weather, and not enabling the deadlock to secure properly.
And it’s as simple as that – a door that’s not exactly flat and square won’t seal accurately. So it’s crucial that the door is properly sealed and protected so that it doesn’t ‘move’ when the weather hits it. When the heat of the sun hits the outside and the air-conditioner is belting away on the inside, the door becomes the meat in the sandwich. If the door can’t handle the difference in temperatures then it moves and the performance is compromised.
So if we come back to the colour question again, when a door’s painted in a dark colour, it absorbs the heat. When it’s painted a bright light colour it reflects the heat. And when a door absorbs heat (a dark colour) it affects the integrity of the door. And it gets even worse if one side of the door is painted a dark colour and the inside a light colour.
This outcome is such a problem that the door manufacturers have a warranty disclaimer – see here – where they spell out what will void the warranty. And painting them in dark colours (and also different colours either side) are included in these things that void the warranty.
But I want a black front door! we hear you say. If we go by the manufacturers recommendations, then the straight answer is no. What about a blue? you say. So this raises the question as to how you define dark and light. How dark is dark?
Here’s where it gets a bit technical, so hang in there.
Every colour has what’s called a light reflective value (LRV). This is how much a particular colour reflects the light. The higher the value (up to 100) the more light is reflected from the sunlight that hits the door. And of course, solid black is at the lowest end of the scale.
Here’s an example of how to find the LRV of your paint colour. https://www.dulux.com.au/colour/hog-bristle#!/colour/dulux_dulux_26042 . This is a popular country colour for the external of homes. As you scroll down a bit you’ll notice it says LRV 67. That means it has a reflective value of 67 – on the higher side.
Blackcurrent Conserve on the other hand has a measly value of 8. This colour would pull the energy of the sunlight heat right into the inner timber of the door, even on a very cold but sunny day.
Which means that this colour would be a no go for your front door because it’s below 50. Yes, for some manufacturers, a colour must have an LRV above 50 to comply with the warranty regulations. Which is pretty high. In fact, when a colour is above 50 it’s simply not a dark colour at all.
So what to do then? Here’s a couple of comments.
1. Which is more important to you, the warranty or the colour? At the end of the day, a builder will likely say no to painting your door in a colour that isn’t going to comply, but no one’s stopping you whipping out that paint brush on Saturday and turning that door into that beautiful deep blue you’ve always wanted it to be … but unfortunately has an LRV of 13.
But then think about the consequences. What will you be saying to your partner in a year’s time when you can’t secure the home because the door’s bowed and the lock won’t work? You’re obviously not calling on the builder because you know it’s voided the warranty, but you have to do something! And that’s the dilemma.
2. The other thing is to consider the overall circumstances. What if the door is facing south or east and won’t bear the brunt of the days heat? What if it’s shielded by a verandah? What if the door’s set back in – a shielded entry? These things will definitely make a difference. And a combination of all 3 could mean the difference between success and failure when using a darker colour.
And then what about a colour that has an LRV of 40? Or even 35? Surely they’ll be alright, you say? Maybe. But maybe not either. It depends on so much. The location and orientation of the door. The size of the door. The inside colour. How hot or cold you run the inside of the home. The thickness of the door. Wether it has a screen covering it. There’s a host of things to consider.
Having said all that, it absolutely is without dispute that an LRV of 40 is going to be better than 30. And 30 is going to be better than 20.
It really comes back to that question of the risk of voiding the warranty and what you’re going to do if things go sideways.
There’s also another factor – using a semi-gloss sheen is better than a low sheen. Sheen levels don’t do much to mitigate the energy a door absorbs or reflects but they can help just a little bit. Of course, a high gloss on external timber is never a good idea, but if you’re sticking to your guns over that dark colour, then make sure it’s a semi-gloss finish.
So that’s how different colours affect an external door. We’re not here to tell you what you can and can’t do, but rather to alert you to the potential problems so that you’re aware of your options. It’s important to always think long-term when building a home. A striking front door is something that a lot of people want, but see if you can find a way to do it with a colour that has a higher reflective value.
As always, feel free to ask for more information!
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