Our Adoption of Solid Exterior Composite Products To Make Our Fabulous Doors

Since 1971, we have been making custom entry doors from wood. We mostly used Honduras Mahogany because of its wonderful durability and beautiful grain. During the 70’s and 80’s, the demand for decorative entry doors was also related to the popularity of leaded/stained and beveled glass, which we also handmade. Our focus has always been to offer our customers the highest quality in design and craftsmanship. After decades of business experience, we became increasingly frustrated with a common refrain. “Hey Dave, you need to come over to our home and LOOK at our door.” Our customers of 3,4,5 years and longer were calling because the finish on their doors was unsightly. Even using the world’s best wood species imported from Central America, and designing, cutting, milling, assembling, and staining/finishing and installing with the utmost care and love, the finish was cracking, peeling, fading and discoloring.
Typical exposed wooden door needing refinishing

Where our customers had a particularly severe exposure, the door was sometimes swelling and splitting. These customers were very disappointed in the appearance of their doors and after all, they are, the FIRST thing that friends and family see! We have always considered the front entry to be the most important single architectural element of the home. Short of professional refinishing, we could not solve the problem. I knew the problem was not the finish alone. At the time, we were using a very expensive marine urethane- the same products used to refinish beautiful 1950’s collectable Chris Craft boats!

My suspicion was that the finish was aging and allowing the wood to absorb moisture and causing a cycle of swelling and absorption, swelling and absorption, which was rapidly causing an unsightly appearance. Our mission has always been to provide our customers with “The Best.” We don’t try to compete with BIG BOX, Building Supply, or Discount Importers of door products. All these variations have some fatal flaw. They are certainly affordable options, but they are not the BEST.

Enter the Use of Composites.

I spent several years in the mid 90’s studying and learning about possible alternatives to wood. I discovered several “Composite” products designed specifically for rugged exterior use that are purposefully designed to replace wood! I learned that these products, Extira and Armorite, to name a couple, were growing in popularity for sign making (such as exterior subdivision signage), playground equipment, church steeples, commercial building soffits, etc. I set out to acquire the products and start testing them for their strength, durability, machinability, and most importantly – finish ability. Oh WOW! Did that work! Since the products were manufactured to be waterproof, they have almost zero expansion or contraction or shrinkage, no matter what environment they are subjected to. Most people are familiar with the popular TREX decking products.

Our composites are not the TREX brand, but they are in the same family of a blend of hardwood cellulose fiber, resins, recycled plastic, zinc boron (to repel insects) and thermosetting polyether-type polyurethane resin formula. These composites are made into large sheets of varying thickness. My challenge now would be, “How am I going to make a door out of this?”

Again, by studying other applications of composites, I learned that they are commonly machined using CNC robotic routers. What? Ok, here we go again. Now we will have to learn a whole new technology for the millwork business. I was able to acquire a very sophisticated CNC router from a small company in Pittsburgh Pa. That’s all very interesting, but how does the router work? Oh, turns out, I needed to learn an entirely new drawing technique and software, called Auto CAD. I must say I love a challenge. Eventually, I was successfully able to make my new doors from this incredible new material using this emerging millwork technology, out of one solid piece! NO SEAMS!

CNC router cutting door
Avis: CAD designer and machine operator
I also developed and tested a variety of finishing products and techniques to provide the most durable and beautiful varieties of color and textures available from any door company in the world!
One of our finishing artisans hand graining the door
Hand-rubbed, weathered bronze
Almost finished ebony graining
That was 2004, nearly 20 years ago! I was a pioneer in the use of composites and the finishing techniques back then, which means we now we have a proven product. Do I want to hear from my customers? Absolutely. I hear from them all the time. In fact, now we have a number of regular builders that provide our doors for their discerning customers, using our doors on their second or third remodel or new build.
Our paint shop

One of the extra benefits of the composite door and our manufacturing technique is the flexibility to make custom “One of a Kind” door units at nearly the same cost as a standard. That is a great value to our customers who need unique sizes, shapes, and design.

Finally, our customers’ needs are what drive us. Our mission remains, “To provide our customer with the best quality, most durable, highest design and great craftsmanship.” I believe those values will always be our winning ticket.

Wood to composite transformation by Masterpiece Doors



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