Kachina Contracting

What is a Panel Door?

What is a Panel Door?

Learn about panel doors: their classic elegance, durability, customizability, soundproofing, and enhanced insulation in this comprehensive guide.

Wednesday January 3rd, 2024

When searching for a new door, you’ll come across a variety of door designs. One of the most common and popular door designs is the panel door. This style is a timeless classic, and is known for adding depth and character to a door. Panel doors are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their numerous advantages—but they do have some downsides as well. Here are the pros and cons of choosing panel doors:

Pros and Cons of Panel Doors

Pros of Panel Doors 

  • Durable
  • Classic Beauty
  • Customizable
  • Sound Proof
  • Increased Insulation

Cons of Panel Doors As you can see, the advantages of panel doors far outweigh the drawbacks. But before we dive into the pros and cons of panel doors, let’s talk about what a panel door is and how it differs from a flush door.

What is a Panel Door?

A panel door has a textured surface created by recessed or raised panels in the central door design. These panels can vary in number, shape, and overall style. A panel door is usually made up of two to eight rectangular or square panels, but they sometimes have a mixture of both. These doors are traditionally made using multiple pieces of wood to form patterns that create the look of a panel door. In order to better understand their construction, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself on the different parts of a door.

The top and bottom of the door are created with rails, which are secured with vertical stiles on either side of the door. These are further secured by one or more rails in the center of the door.  In between each of these constructions is a wood panel or glass panel. All these pieces together give the door structural integrity and visual appeal.Each wood panel typically features decorative moulding on the edges, but not all. For example, a shaker door is a paneled door with clean, simple lines and no decorative moulding. Many panel doors are still constructed the way, but not all. Modern panel doors can either be “true panel doors” or “panel-look doors.” True panel doors are constructed using the rail and stile method described above—they are formed with multiple individual pieces and are usually solid wood doors. A panel-look door, also known as a molded panel door, is a solid-core door featuring a composite or MDF core. The outer surface or skin is veneer, and is molded to appear like natural wood panels. All of Rustica’s panel doors, unless otherwise noted, are true panel solid wood doors.

Panel Doors vs Flush Doors

As the name implies, a flush door has a completely smooth surface on both the front and back sides of the door. Comparatively, a panel door has recessed or raised panels, creating grooves and texture on the door surface. The style you choose, either flush or panel, depends on your design goals and maintenance preferences. Flush doors are favored for their sleek and minimalist design, and are often found in contemporary homes focused on simple materials and clean lines. Flush doors are also easier to clean, as their smooth surface allows for quick wipe-downs. They can also be more budget-friendly than panel doors, depending on the manufacturer and material of the door.   Panel doors, on the other hand, are preferred for the textural depth they add to a room, as well as their traditional charm. They are a little bit harder to maintain, as the many grooves on the door’s surface can take longer to clean compared to flush doors. All that said, the choice simply comes down to what door design you like best for your space.

Pros and Cons of Panel Doors

Now that you understand what a panel door is, let’s explore their benefits and one drawback.

Pros of Panel Doors


Solid wood paneled doors are extremely durable. Their solid wood build makes them exceptionally strong interior doors and exterior doors.Compared to hollow core doors, paneled doors can withstand years of everyday use. Their unique construction gives the door multiple points of strength, making it highly durable for daily wear and tear. Using only the highest quality materials, Rustica’s paneled solid wood doors are sure to last for decades to come. And while they may be an investment upfront, paneled doors save you money in the long run, as they won’t need to be replaced if given proper and consistent care.

Classic Beauty

Paneled doors are beautiful through and through, and show traditional craftsmanship at its finest. They are a staple feature of classic American architecture, and are found in many design styles, including colonial, shaker, prairie, Victorian, and craftsman. In this way, they pay homage to those traditional home styles still gracing the United States today. Additionally, if you live in an older house, a paneled door is sure to complement the historic architectural style of your home. Along with their traditional roots, paneled doors exhibit a subtle and classic beauty that adds character and depth to any room they occupy. And while they are considered a classic design, you can still find modern paneled doors that have contemporary flare.


Whether you want a classic colonial style paneled door for your all-American front porch or a modern door for your contemporary style home, you’ll be sure to find the perfect paneled door for your unique design preferences. The customization of paneled doors is a key advantage to its style, especially when you choose a paneled door with Rustica or work with our design team to create a custom door from scratch. When customizing a paneled door with Rustica, you’ll have full control of what wood species you want, as well as the door’s paint or finish color. Some of our doors also have customizable panels, meaning you can choose the panel insert you want. Panel insert options include wood, metal, or glass.

Sound Proof

One significant benefit of having a solid wood paneled door is that they are highly sound proof. Their solid core helps muffle and mute exterior noises, keeping the inside of the home or room relatively quiet. Because of this advantage, a high-quality paneled door would be perfect for internal spaces where you want to reduce sound transmissions, such as an office, bedroom, or bathroom. Externally, paneled doors are a great front door option, especially if you live in a noisy area—such as a city or next to train tracks.

Increased Insulation

Along with their soundproofing capabilities, solid wood paneled doors are much more insulated than other door styles, especially when compared to hollow core doors. Just as paneled doors help absorb noise and reduce sound transmission, they also help reduce heat transmission. In this way, they’ll help keep the warm air inside on cold winter days, and the hot air outside on balmy summer days. Ultimately, solid wood paneled doors benefit a home by helping stabilize internal temperatures, which results in reduced energy bills each month. If the paneled door has glass, you’ll want to opt for energy-saving low e glass and double paned windows to maximize the door’s energy efficiency.

Cons of Panel Doors

Requires More Cleaning

As previously mentioned, when comparing paneled doors to flush doors, flush doors have the upper hand when it comes to cleaning. The biggest disadvantage of paneled doors is that cleaning them requires time, patience, and dedication. It’s not as easy to give the surface of a paneled door a quick wipe-down—you must spend extra time cleaning all the grooves of the raised or recessed panels. The grooves on a paneled door accumulate dust and dirt, and it can be difficult to get these tight edges fully clean. Frequent and consistent maintenance will help keep your paneled door from getting too dirty.
As a homeowner, it’s important to consider the maintenance and cleaning required for a paneled door. While tedious, keeping your paneled door clean will ensure its longevity and keep it working for many years to come.

10 Rustica Panel Doors

We have a variety of high-quality exterior and interior panel doors. There’s a panel door for every style, whether that’s modern, traditional, craftsman, or rustic. To help you figure out which panel door style is best for your space, check out our list of some of our favorite paneled doors:

1. Six Panel Colonial Interior Door

If you want a classic, all-American door for your home, the Six Panel Colonial Interior Door may be the door for you. The traditional design of this hinged paneled door honors historic architecture, and would fit beautifully in colonial, cape cod, prairie, and craftsman style homes. This door features six recessed panels framed by stiles and rails. The upper two panels are symmetrical squares half the size of the following four symmetrical rectangular panels. These panels are evenly divided horizontally by rails, creating a streamlined and elegant interior paneled door. Customize the 6 Panel Colonial Interior Door to make it your very own. Input the exact dimensions you need, including height, width, and thickness, followed by aesthetic options such as wood species, door finish, and door texture.

2. Two Panel Door Interior Door

Perfect for rustic and farmhouse style home decor, the Two Panel Interior Door puts a modern farmhouse twist on the traditional panel door style. This wood door features two large, recessed panel sections that aren’t individual panels; rather, the recessed area is made up of several slender vertical panels. These sections are divided by a central horizontal rail and are framed by stiles on either side. Featuring clean lines and straight edges, this door doesn’t have the traditional molding that most classic paneled doors have, making it a versatile door that would fit a variety of design styles. With our extensive customization options, you can add a personal touch to the Two Panel Door to make it match any design—whether that’s modern farmhouse, minimalist, cottage core, traditional, rustic, contemporary, or a mix of styles.

3. 5 Panel Interior Door

The 5 Panel Interior Door is a modern take on the classic paneled door with five equally sized, horizontal, rectangular, recessed panels running the length of this hinged door. Contemporary, yet traditional, this door offers a soft and welcoming feel, especially when finished with a clear glaze that highlights the natural grain and color of the wood species. However, what makes this door truly unique is the custom panel inserts. That’s right—you can choose which material you want the five recessed panels to be, including wood, glass, or aluminum. There are two types of aluminum to choose between: smooth or distressed. If you choose glass inserts for your 5 Panel Interior Door, the next step is to choose your preferred glass style and type. Rustica offers a variety of glass styles, including textured glass options for privacy without sacrificing natural light. Given the extensive customization options for the 5 Panel Door, you’ll be sure to create a one-of-a-kind interior door that perfectly matches your unique space.

4. Altitude Front Door

If you’re looking for a warm welcome home, consider the impressive Altitude Front Door. The highlighted wood texture of this hinged front door is perfect for contemporary ranch-style homes or mountain estates. The Altitude Front Door features two recessed sections that contain several slender vertical panels. These sections are divided by a rail adjacent to the handle, making the top section two times larger than the bottom section. The vertical panels on the bottom section are subtly raised, giving this door a touch of depth and visual texture. By choosing your preferred wood species and wood finish, you can craft this door to match your unique style. Wood species like alder and cedar are a great choice for external applications, and when stained with a specialty door finish like our clear glaze or dark walnut, can give you a wood door that fits in perfectly with rustic, ranch, farmhouse, or cabin style homes.

5. Riverstone Front Door

Give your beautiful entryway an upgrade with the traditional and charming Riverstone Front Door. Simple in design, yet elegant and sophisticated in appearance, the Riverstone Front Door has the appeal of historic relevance with the quality of modern craftsmanship. The Riverstone Front Door features a four-panel window at the top, followed by two symmetrical raised panels that run the length of the door. The window and raised panels are framed by wooden stiles and rails, with a prominent stile dividing the two bottom raised panels. The glass feature is perfect for allowing warm sunlight into the space, and can be accompanied by sidelights to allow even more natural light into your front entryway. If you need more privacy but don’t want to sacrifice natural light, consider a decorative glass pattern.

6. Ranch Hand Front Door

The Ranch Hand Front Door is an exquisite panel door featuring three sections of raised panels. These sections are highlighted by molded trim, creating grooves around the raised panels. The totality of the panel design results in a sophisticated and elegant door, perfect for traditional, mid-century, cottage, ranch, and contemporary design styles. With our impressive customization options, you can add the finishing touches to the Ranch Front Door to make it your very own. First, you’ll select whether you want the door to be pre-hung or slab. You’ll then select the dimensions you need and the wood species you want, followed by aesthetic choices such as door finish and texture. Rustica offers a variety of door finishes, including a clear glaze or walnut stain, as well as several paint colors. If you prefer to stain the door yourself, simply select “raw unfinished.” For a more rustic style door, you can choose a door texture such as weathered distressed, or worn.

7. 2 Panel Craftsman Barn Door

The 2 Panel Craftsman Barn Door is an interior sliding barn door featuring two glass panels at the top, followed by two vertical panels running the remaining length of the door. With a white paint finish, this simple panel design offers grace and softness, making it the perfect addition to a variety of home styles. Spruce it up a bit by painting the 2 Panel Craftsman Barn Door dark green or pale blue. The wood finish or paint color you choose will significantly alter the overall feeling and style of this classic paneled barn door, making it a versatile option for any interior design style. Rustica offers a wide selection of glass types for the top two windows, including decorative glass options such as frosted or crested. These obscured glass patterns are perfect for areas where privacy is required, but you still want ambient natural light, such as in a bathroom or bedroom.

8. Contemporary 3 Panel Barn Door

Simple and minimalistic, the Contemporary 3 Panel Barn Door features three symmetrical, square, recessed panels. This simple panel design is perfect for those who want an elegant and sophisticated interior sliding barn door with clean lines and crisp edges. When designing a custom barn door with Rustica, you’ll have the option to include barn door hardware with your door. If you select this option, you’ll be able to choose the exact sliding system and track/hanging style you want, along with the metal finish for the entire hardware system. When going with a door with a simple design like this one, you can spice up the style by choosing a bold metal finish, such as barn red or modern gold.On the other hand, you can keep things streamlined with a contemporary or minimalistic style by choosing flat black or grey steel as a metal finish.

9. 5 Panel Barn Door

The 5 Panel Barn Door is the same as the 5 Panel Interior Door described above. Rather than swinging on hinges, the 5 Panel Barn Door slides along a barn door track. Like the door above, this door features equally-sized, horizontal, rectangular, recessed panels running the length of the wood door. The panel inserts on the 5 Panel Barn Door are also customizable, and you can choose between wood, metal, and glass for your material inserts. Further customize this elegant and classic door to make it uniquely your own.

10. Standard Dutch Door

Paneled designs can be a key feature of any door style, even Dutch doors. The Standard Dutch Door features three vertical recessed panels on the bottom half, and a large square window on the top half of the door. As a Dutch door, this door has two operable sections—both the top and bottom of the door can open and close without the other half. These sections can also operate together if desired. The classic and historic design of the Standard Dutch Door is perfect for farmhouse, cottage, shabby chic, and traditional interior design styles. Customize the wood species, finish, texture, and glass style to make it a perfect fit for your home.

Find The Perfect Paneled Door with Rustica

Rustica offers a variety of paneled door designs for every home and style. Paneled doors are a classic, yet timeless, style that provides several benefits to the home. Besides their undeniable beauty and elegance, paneled doors are durable, customizable, soundproof, and energy efficient. Check out our extensive selection of handcrafted paneled doors. All of Rustica’s doors are made in the USA by artisan craftsmen using real wood and quality lumber. Go ahead and start designing your high-quality paneled door with Rustica today—we can’t wait to help you bring your custom panel door to life!

For more information, visit Kachina Windows & Doors.


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