Sunlight and a Cherry Entry Door

      Cherry is a problematic wood for any exterior use, because it is known to first darken, then bleach, from exposure to sunlight. April 24, 2006

I am planning to build an exterior entry door out of cherry. The doorway is generally well protected from direct sun and rain, but there is some indirect exposure to the elements. How well will cherry hold up in such an application? It seems as though cherry would do okay, with good stability and decay resistance, but I haven't seen many posts pertaining to use of cherry in an exterior application. Mostly I see doors from mahogany or oak.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor R:
Cherry exposed to any kind of sunlight tends to darken pretty rapidly. We laid a cherry floor in a high rise condo with floor to ceiling windows. One Friday night my floor finisher left his sander and cord laying on the floor and by Monday, there were distinct outlines of where the sun didn't get to the floor. As far as weather resistance, I think if you protect it with a good varnish, it should hold up pretty well.

From contributor W:
Discoloration will be a large-scale concern, even if the door is "generally well-protected from sunlight..." Indirect UV exposure (skylight) and even some unexpected sources (reflected sunlight from neighboring windows) will put cherry at risk of fast and uneven (the real problem) discoloration. I doubt that any clear finish would provide sufficient UV protection to reduce the risk of a callback from an unhappy homeowner. Cherry also has less resistance to dings and dents than oak and other harder species more commonly seen in exterior applications, especially something that will get as much use as an entry door.

From contributor B:
Paint it.

From Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
Contributor R's comments are true and it is likely the bottom of the door will darken more than the top, as the top sees less light. In a few months, the door will not look like cherry due to the extreme darkening. As most exterior doors are not 100% solid wood, as they are too heavy and require superior hinges, the hardness of cherry is not as much of an issue as the overall construction technique.

From the original questioner:
Thank you for the comments. I can see the issue with the darkening - particularly at the bottom of the door. Other options would be American mahogany or walnut. How would mahogany darken in such a situation?

From contributor D:
I'll say that the cherry door will first darken, then bleach. It may stay dark at the upper rail, but the main part of the door will fade in a year or less. It will look like some discolored maple. Very light, not cherry like at all. We don't recommend cherry for exterior work as a result, unless the client is well aware of the - mostly cosmetic - look. Back when houses had porches, the cherry would age well and look better with time - except for the edge that remained behind the jamb stop.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Doors and Windows

  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber and Plywood

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: General

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2020 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article