Door sets vs traditionally hanging doors


Door sets vs traditionally hanging doors – what’s right for your project?

Whatever the scale, style or purpose of your development, doors are a vital feature of any building, important both aesthetically and functionally, and a significant consideration during the construction process too.

With such a range of choices, from the materials, to the ironmongery, to the finish, to the fire resistance, the potential combinations are virtually limitless, allowing you to select doors which perfectly fit your design goals and budget.

But underlying all these other considerations there are essentially two options – the traditionally hanging door or a ‘door set’.

There are pros and cons to each, so understanding the difference is crucial when deciding which is right for your project.

What’s the difference?

Put simply the traditionally hanging door is just the door ‘slab’ – the door set is the complete package, explains Richard Kowalski, Technical Manager for the door division at Stairways.

“With a traditionally hung door, a developer will need to install the frame and add all the other elements separately on site.

“A door set comprises a lining or frame that is already routed out for hinges, locks and other elements, and the door itself, which comes ready for installation, including ironmongery such as latches, bathroom locks and hinges.

“At Stairways, for example, we ask our clients to specify what they want ahead of time. On a front door for example, they may need drop-down seals, intumescent strips, locks, deadlocks and so on – all of which can be sorted for them in the factory, so the doors arrive ready to install.”

Ease of installation

When it comes to a larger development, residential flats for example, which could include hundreds of doors – and ease of fitting matters more than ever, explains Richard: “We have supplied sites with upwards of 300 door sets, which represents a lot of work for the on-site team, so the easier we can make that process the better.

“With so many jobs handled in the production process by a specialist factory, it means fewer specialist skills are needed on site, which can help to reduce onsite costs and the opportunity for error.

“With a door set you’re sourcing every component from the same supplier too, which ensures compatibility and performance – you can avoid those last moment panics, that nightmare moment, for example, when you discover the doors are the wrong size for the frames – it happens!

“Very often our clients will also order stairs and skirting boards from us too, which makes for the most streamlined delivery and installation processes. It also means that they can be assured of a consistent finish throughout – those small details make a big difference to the overall look.”

Alongside the look of the finished door, there is also the potential for additional reliability and compliance, explains Richard: “Because door sets are manufactured, tested and installed as complete units, that helps to ensure fire and security performance, as well as dependability for users. Doors are subjected to particularly strict fire regulation which a door set meets entirely.”

Choices and options

Despite coming as a package, door sets needn’t be ‘standard’ or ‘boring.’ Many options are available on the market, and a good manufacturer will be able to work to specific design or function requirements.

Adds Richard: “Door sets can be manufactured to a wide variety of specifications, including accredited fire and smoke resistance, sound proofing, and security requirements.

“You are not confined to any one look or finish – with choices across different materials including different woods, finishes and glazing options too.

Pocket door sets are an option too if there isn’t space for a standard swing door system, and pivoting door sets likewise.”
While some manufacturers will offer door sets with a different look and feel to traditionally hung doors, for example with different hinges, where the door is clipped on at the end, others, such as Stairways, put together door sets in much the same way as traditional doors, with high quality components and the same quality and finish, but with the advantage of a modern system of installation.

Adds Richard: “There are different price points in the market, but, as always, it tends to be that you get what you pay for. Doors are such a big part of any project. They can alter the look and feel of a room and will be a high-use element of any development, so quality and finish matters. It’s worth spending more to get what you want and avoid costly hassle down the line.”

Traditionally Hung Doors


  • Great if you’re replacing a door or doors – providing the new door is the same size and configuration as the old door – any variation will make it harder to hang in the existing frame
  • Tend to be cheaper, although not accounting for the labour costs of additional work on installation


  • You need to build your frame, architrave and door stops for every door set – requiring specific skills and adding time to a project.
  • You need to ensure the use of the correct intumescent, hinges, locks, frame materials are used to comply with the fire certification of the door leaf. Responsibility for this is down to the joinery company making the door sets on site from these components.
  • Recessing and machining of all ironmongery will need to be done – this can lead to poor quality machining/cutting.
  • Additional onsite time

Door Sets


  • Reduced installation time.
  • A time saver for new builds or larger installation quantities
  • No component compatibility worries with a fully compliant door set
  • Consistent quality and finish
  • Tested as a unit for fire, security and acoustic compliance
  • Technical advice and assistance through the door set company.


  • Door sets can be heavy and harder to manoeuvre.
  • Upfront costs can be higher
  • Pre planning for delivery of product.

Article as published in the March issue of Creative Build Magazine and the April issue of fc&a Magazine.


Author: Stairways

Stairways, founded in 1989, has grown to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of carpentry and joinery products. Stairways now boast three state-of-art facilities that offer over 85,000 sq ft production capacity. Stairways goal is to raise their profile and brand awareness to become known throughout the industry as the UK’s leading staircase and door solution provider.

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As a highly reputable firm within the industry, Stairways are dedicated to meeting their client’s product and application requirements. All materials used are manufactured to the highest quality and meet the relevant standards achieving ISO9001, FSC®, and various product certifications, whilst their staircases and door solutions are manufactured with compliance to UK building regulations & legislative standards in mind. Using the knowledge, passion, and experience acquired across all team members over the past thirty years, Stairways aim to continue to be the best in what they do.


Stairways are continuously looking for opportunities to improve and expand their service offering; this includes the investment in new machinery to further enhance and innovate the manufacturing process, with the aim to shorten lead times and increase overall in-house capacity. The changes Stairways employ are always focused upon improving the customer experience, to ensure their process remains as efficient as possible from start to finish.


Privately owned and managed since it was founded in 1989, Stairways has grown to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of carpentry and joinery products. Starting as a small staircase manufacturer, Stairways now boast three state-of-art facilities that offer over 85,000 sq ft of bespoke and mass production capacity.