Front door on a house, with half-round transom and sidelights.

Sometimes a door is just a door. But a door can also be a statement about who you are. Either way, there’s more to a door than meets the eye. Let’s take a closer look.

At its simplest, a door can be a single piece or a combination of materials—wood, vinyl, aluminum or glass—with a handle and hinges to open and close it. You can add beauty and complexity by incorporating design elements such as a transom, sidelights, rails, panels, mullions, stiles and brickmould.

This chart details various elements of an exterior front door:

labeled diagram of a front door

Here’s some door terminology:

  • Door system – a door slab & frame assembly, with slab pre-hung in the frame
  • Frame – an assembly of structural parts used to fasten a door to a structure
  • Keyway – the slot in a lock in which the key is inserted
  • Lite – a framed piece of glass within a door slab, sidelight or transom
  • Rail – the horizontal pieces of a door slab
  • Sidelight – fixed, usually rectangular, decorative glass on either or both sides of a door system
  • Slab – the operating part of a door system
  • Stile – the vertical pieces of a door slab
  • Sweep – flexible seal material attached to the bottom of a door slab
  • Threshold – bottom component of a door system
  • Transom – decorative glass above a door system

This is basic Door Anatomy 101, but it helps to know the component names when you’re talking about doors, shopping for a new one, replacing an old one, or even thinking of building something yourself.

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