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!
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