Wood and laminate doors are a favorite of designers transforming the interior aesthetic of a room. Inevitably, you may encounter a fire-rated door requirement, which can intimidate new homeowners. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to include a fire-rated door that matches other doors.

We interviewed Grandoor founder Jacob Kluger to give details and insights about fire-rated wood doors. Read on to learn more about what he has to say.

What Makes a Door Fire-Rated?

Aside from fire-resistant construction, a certified testing agency must independently test fire-rated doors. Each door must have on the hinge edge a fire label noting the fire rating (20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes).

Fire-rated wood doors undergo extensive testing to ensure they withstand high temperatures without failing structurally for the time duration indicated on the label. This resistance to high temperatures gives occupants additional time to evacuate in the event of a fire.

Doors achieve these ratings through special cores and perimeter intumescent seals that expand when heated, sealing gaps to contain flames and smoke. Mineral cores handle heat better than wood, but all components must work in tandem to achieve certification.

Compare fire-rated wood door construction to hollow and solid-core doors to appreciate their complex engineering and impressive fire resistance.

Design Options for Fire-Rated Wood Doors

From a visual perspective, fire-rated wood doors look identical to regular doors, and just like regular doors, they’re available in a wide range of aesthetics to match your surrounding decor.

Keep in mind that while you can perform custom staining or painting, modifications may limit touch-ups needed down the road to retain ratings. Consult manufacturers for guidance.

Fire-rated wood doors come in two main categories — flush doors and stile and rail doors.

Flush doors have a mineral composite, agrifiber, or similar core, depending on the rating. They suit offices, retail spaces, schools, and commercial settings.

Stile and rail doors use a more expensive fire-resistant core. These paneled doors commonly appear in multifamily units, hotels, historic buildings, and specialized projects.

Within these two categories, fire-rated wood doors come in standard sizes and custom dimensions. They also accept glass inserts, hardware, and machining like non-rated doors.

Selecting the Appropriate Fire Rating

Door ratings typically match three-quarters of the wall rating. For example, a two-hour firewall requires 90-minute doors. However, check local building and construction codes for exceptions. Codes can vary by location.

Commercial spaces often need a 90-minute rating on doors, while multi-family units and hotels may specify 20 to 60 minutes. Rooms with major fire loads (like server rooms) typically need at least 90 minutes. If you’re unsure what to use in your home or business, discuss options with an architect.

Consider existing partitions, proximity to exits, occupant loads, and usage when selecting ratings. Doors along exit paths and high-traffic areas need higher ratings.

Positive Vs. Neutral Pressure Ratings

When reviewing door specifications, you may notice a distinction between positive and neutral pressure fire ratings. These distinctions refer to the stringency of testing procedures.

Positive pressure testing better reflects real-world fire conditions. It confirms doors resist heat and flames from both sides, while neutral pressure only considers one direction. Current codes and plans typically require positive pressure doors, which undergo more elaborate certification. If plans specify neutral pressure, those doors still pass fire tests, but positive pressure is advisable for optimal safety. Be sure to discuss this distinction with manufacturers when sourcing doors.

Certifying Agencies

Several prominent agencies certify fire-rated doors as meeting codes and standards, giving homeowners confidence in the products they rate. Reputable testing agencies certify fire-rated wood doors using established protocols (UL 10B, UL 10C, NFPA 252). The most common include:

  • UL: Underwriters Laboratories
  • Intertek: Warnock Hersey
  • Quality Auditing Institute
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Regardless of the agency, local authorities decide which doors meet codes in their jurisdiction. To be safe, we recommend seeking out widely accepted certifications.

Hardware Machining

Companies must machine all mounted hardware to ensure it meets testing standards, with one exception. That is, field technicians can undercut doors up to ¾ inches deep to accommodate flooring. Any other mods require factory machining or authorized shops. Self-closing hinges differ from surface-mounted closers in their installation method, so ensure any additional blocking supports closers properly.

Pre-fitting and machining help maintain structural integrity against fire. Improper field cuts degrade fire resistance over time, so keep that in mind when choosing or modifying a fire-rated door.

So, Is Using Fire-Rated Wood Doors a Good Idea?

Using fire-rated wood doors blends into designs with other wood/laminate doors, providing critical code-compliant fire protection. With a careful selection of ratings, hardware, accessories, and manufacturer approvals, fire doors satisfy both aesthetic visions and life safety needs.

Door and frame manufacturers continue expanding available options, inserts, sizes, and cores, while architects enjoy increasing design flexibility with doors that save lives when minutes matter most.

If you’re interested in learning more about fire-rated doors, check out our guide on fire-rated attic access doors, and be sure to protect your home from wildfires.

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FAQs About Fire-Rated Wood Doors

Do fire-rated wood doors require special maintenance?

No, they can be cleaned and maintained like traditional wood doors. However, ensure all hardware remains in working order per fire codes.

Where are the best places to install fire-rated doors?

Some of the best places to install fire-rated doors are stairwells, hallways, utility closets, storage rooms, multipurpose rooms, and anywhere that walls have fire ratings per code. Strategic installation is critical for optimal life-saving performance.

What are fire door inspections?

Fire door inspections are periodic evaluations by qualified technicians that verify all doors, frames, hardware, and seals remain in certified working condition according to NFPA 80 standards.

Can I paint or stain a fire-rated wood door?

Yes, if finished at the factory first. Any external paint and stain must allow labels to remain visible and doors to operate properly without binding.

Editorial Contributors
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Mitchell Layton

Mitchell Layton is a former professional mover who currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell spent years packing and moving for REAL Rock N Roll Movers, a commercial and residential moving company based in Los Angeles that’s primarily staffed with up-and-coming musicians. That gave him plenty of experience navigating box trucks up and down the winding streets of LA. In addition to moving hundreds of happy customers into new homes and apartments all across Southern California, Mitchell has also performed corporate moves on company lots for Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount, and more. After pouring blood, sweat, and tears into his profession, Mitchell has all the helpful tips you need for your next move.

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Sabrina Lopez


Sabrina Lopez is a senior editor for Today’s Homeowner with over 7 years of writing and editing experience in digital media. She has reviewed content across categories that matter to homeowners, including HVAC services, home renovations, lawn and garden care, products for the home, and insurance services. When she’s not reviewing articles to make sure they are helpful, accessible, and engaging for homeowners like herself, Sabrina enjoys spending time with her family and their two parrots.

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