OK to Install Internal Door as Entrance Door?

I'm replacing the entrance door to my unit. To save $ I'm thinking of replacing it with an internal door of the same dimensions. I understand that it won't be as durable as a proper solid timber door, but this is for a rental unit and there's security door/ cameras one must go through before reaching the unit itself.

Is this a common thing to do? What are the gotcha's to be aware of aside from durability? TIA :)


  • I dunno but it's "legal" (https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/dont-look-nowbut-your-front-d...). Regardless of security implications.

    • I know it's legal because my partner's house had internal door for the garage, which she'd replaced with solid timber. The unit also has its own lockable gate that you must go through before being able to even knock on the entrance door (so in total you have to go through 1 main gate, 1 unit gate & about a dozen cameras before you can knock.

      • Fire requirements for a unit? Unit doors aren't just solid, they have fire retardant in them to stop fire spreading. Solid doors won't pass this let alone hollow core.


        • This is correct

        • This^. Most if not all units require fire rated doors

        • Yep, I've been told it MUST be a fire door for my apartment. Presume this is the same everywhere

          • @lechuck123: An apartment is a different class of building. For a regular townhouse ie. a Class 1 building there is no regs on fire rating of a door. Even some older apartments where fire rated doors weren't originally required wont need one if it was to be replaced for maintenance reasons.

      • … so in total you have to go through 1 main gate, 1 unit gate & about a dozen cameras before you can knock.

        Sigh … that's the sort of stuff us lowly dudes living in VIC suburbs like '(de)preston' and 'Frank(gani)ston' can only dream about. Er, soz, remind me, what was your problem?

  • Terrible security. Cameras and a security door to the complex won't make someone alive after they are stabbed in their sleep.

  • Uh, usually Front Doors have a Fire Rating.

    Check that you replace like with like otherwise it may affect your Insurance.

    Is it a Strata?

    • Yes, strata. Existing door is actually hollow core. I just cannot find exact model but bodycorp have given written permission to replace it with any door (doesn't have to be the same style/ material).

      The current door's lasted 11 years, just starting to look weathered as the builder didn't use external paint.

      • You don't want have Insurance Contents Cover and for them to not pay.

        Check out AS/NZS 1905.1 2015 and complying with BCA C3, C3.6 – 3.11 (G) doors.

        • Thanks, good to know. Contents is a tenant thing though (this is an investment property).

        • Depends if it's classed as a Class 1a or Class 2 building. Class 1a is a unit which doesn't share a roof with its neighbour, only a fire wall. If it's Class 1a, then if the door is 900mm away from the boundary if on a different allotment, 1.8m if on the same allotment. If it's Class 2, i.e. shares a roof or is multistorey, then Section C3.11 (g) implies it only needs a 35mm solidcore door with a closer, rather than a fire door.

          You should speak to your council or certifier about what is required, however I would suggest 35mm solidcore door with closer might be acceptable if the unit complex is 2 storeys or less, 60 minute fire rated if over 2 storeys. A hollowcore door is a terrible option from a durability, safety, weathering point of view. Building code makes it clear that it isn't acceptable for Class 2 buildings.

      • The current door's lasted 11 years, just starting to look weathered as the builder didn't use external paint.

        This tells me the door is actual exterior and exposed to the weather to at least some degree rather than being in a hallway of units etc. So you can use an interior door, but it'll only last a few years as the material used (primarily MDF and cardboard) just isn't designed to be outside. Using really good exterior paint may prolong it but it still won't last anywhere near as long as an actual exterior door. Coupled with the obvious security issue (I can break an interior door just by pushing, whereas an exterior requires kicking/shoulder) and allowing more noise in from the lighter construction, it's not a good idea IMO.

      • The current door's lasted 11 years, just starting to look weathered as the builder didn't use external paint.

        Why not just sand back and re paint your existing door?

        • This is the best solution, save a ton of money and painting/sanding a door is a very easy DIY. Even if you have to buy paint, paintbrushes and a cheap sander, it will be under $100.

      • Hollow core? Look for metalcore or hardcore

      • My understanding is that entrance doors for strata properties are common property, thus you can get it paid for by the body corporate.

      • Then your Strata are fu**ing dodgy as. The door needs to be a fire rated door.

        Don't know what else to say….

      • Insurance will do anything to weasel out of an insurance claim. I've seen this happen in person.

    • -1 vote

      Is it a Strata?

      It's in Straya…

  • I did the same thing, replaced the back laundry door with an internal door, because the dimensions fit. After a while, the bottom started to bulge from the rain probably because the door was made out of mdf panels. Not sure if it will happen to you.

    • Yes, I have seen this happen.
      If the OP goes ahead with this swap, I suggest they thoroughly paint and seal the bottom edge of the door. It might help it last a few more years.

    • Pretty much this. The material indoor doors are made of won't do well in the weather.

  • +19 votes

    In a block of units it is not legal as it needs to be a fire door. In NSW the front door in a unit block forma part of the exterior wall of the unit and as such the cost of replacing and/or fixing it is the strata' responsibility.

    I had my unit door replaced by strata last year and speaking with the gut who replaced it said that it had to be a fire door and this is why it took about 6 weeks between measuring the existing door and coming back with the replacement door.

    • ^ This …front doors are common property and is strata's responsibility

      • Hmmm - my bodycorp says otherwise. Would love for the strata to do this (less hassle for me). How do I find out for sure that it's strata responsibility? I'm in Melb BTW.

        • in NSW ring up the department of fair trading strata area, see the following page as a starting point:

          If you are in other states try to find the equivalent area withing the state government and call them to see what they say about the front door. When you speak with them make sure you get a page or doc that has the info and give this to the strata corp as they will probably NOT believe you verbally. I have seen this in the past, but the other way around when I was on the strata committee and kept telling an owner to call fair trading as they were wrong…. Took 2 years to sort it out and only after they made a complaint and in the hearing they were told that they were wrong and had to fix something first (the mediator did say we did all the right things and gave all of the right info, but the owner was an idiot).

    • It needs to be a fire door if there are no other fire doors in the stairwell. My apartment is fire rated, because there's only stairs after that. If you have doors on the stairwells (i.e a hallway and then door access to the stairs) you don't need a personal fire door

  • I'd get a proper front door as if there was some security breach the tenants could come back on you being negligent.

    They could even just report it as a repair issue down the track and you d probably have to fix it.

  • but this is for a rental unit

    Why not just remove the door and hang a curtain?

    • Exactly… a rental doesn't deserve adequate facilities. Just do the cheap shitty option instead.

    • You would need signage for when the Performance or Show is on, signage, lighting, Parking, a Booking Agent, Socially Distanced Seating, a Covid Marshall, an ABN, an Agent, PR, Wardrobe, a Business Plan and Name, an Accountant, Council Permits, Strata Approval…

    • Shower curtain, 10 bucks at bunnings

  • Other things I wouldn't try and DIY or scrimp on are:


    • I've happily done DIY on doors, building from scratch as well as just fitting bought doors. They're a lot simpler than many would think.

  • Mine is like that too, but I also have a metal protective screen door.

    I never gave it much thought. I'm in Sydney, but I don't have much of a background in construction law, so I wouldn't know.

  • Needs. Fire rating i imagine…

    Why wouldnt you give tenants what they need to be safe and happy. Its even tax deductable ffs (and yes im a landlord).

  • OP - you sound like the kind of LL I'd avoid. Just buy the right door. It's all tax deductible.

    • So much this, what a bloody cheapskate.

    • +3 votes

      Totally agree with you here. What a slumlord.

    • I agree with you regarding your views on the LL. Just here to point out in case anyone gets the wrong idea, tax-deductible doesn’t mean free like a lot of people seem to think.

      It’s definitely not free and the amount the LL will save on such tax-deductible expenses is dependent on their marginal tax rate. If the LL is under the tax-free threshold, the cost of the door will cost the same to them whether or not it’s tax deductible. At the very least, it’ll end up costing the LL at least half the actual cost of the door and that’s only if they’re on the top marginal tax rate, otherwise the “savings” on tax-deductible items are much less

  • +19 votes



    Those were the words that came to mind.

  • +10 votes

    There was no way I could have known your honour.

    What about this OzBargain post dated 2021-02-20?

    It was just a rental…

  • depends on the height of the building. think anything over 14m i height needs to have fire doors. You can put anything on you want but if things go pair shaped i would suggest its an easy out for a insurance company (

  • The door also needs an automatic door closer.

    Not a screen door closer.


  • I saw a guy kick down a proper external door in my towerblock in my youth, was the one next to mine and could see out the peep hole. Took him over half an hour of really hard kicks, and each kick reverberated throughout the whole floor and probably the floors above and below. If it was an internal door it would have been down in a single kick, he was a big guy. I was going to call the cops but he was wearing a suit and was with a woman in a suit so I figured they knew what they were doing. But the deafening boom of each kick was extremely loud, won't ever forget it. The energy of his kicks was going into the building, not into the door or some weak hinge or whatever. I think the doors had a metal plate over the front, it was a pretty rough area. No carpet or anything on the unit, just the bare rubber underlay. Rent was cheap though and very close to town.

    • Kicking in a door is an acceptable normal way to conduct business? Not call a locksmith or have a sheriff serve orders or whatever?

    • Dude, call the police or at least policelink when something like that happens.

      • a drunk idiot pining for his imagined ex- once kicked in the street entrance door to our stairwell

        when I heard the heavy kicks - maybe 6 and then smash - and realised he had kicked the door in (split the timber jamb) I called the police and said a big guy has just kicked the door in and he's STILL HERE !

        within about 2 minutes there were 6 police cars outside and police in our stairwell with guns drawn

        that guy paid about $1000 to get our door jamb repaired.

    • Wearing a suit.. was the real estate agent trying to do an open home. The other lady was the buyer.

    • +12 votes

      I'll make a note of that, commit a crime in a suit and people will think your James bond, clearly a good guy! Just have a female accomplice and even the cops will just walk by!

      Maybe we are lacking some key info here. But I can't think of a rational reason, not involving copious amounts of meth, that someone would ever need to spend half an hour kicking in a solid door. Granted, a few kicks in anger might be plausible but half an hour of kicking?!!!??

    • ? Loan sharks, various other low-lifes don't wear suits? Sounds like the "wear hi-vis while stealing stuff from shops/offices and will be ignored".

      If it had been a legal eviction or whatever (plain clothed detectives maybe) they should have probably had uniforms there for a start.

    • If it was an internal door it would have been down in a single kick

      Probably not, unless the frame and hinges were really crappy. He may have kicked a hole in both skins but then getting the foot back out is fiddly. People focus on the strength of doors but that's only half the story. The frame plays a much bigger part than many realise.

      If you need to kick a door down, kick the hinge side hard. Most people concentrate and strong locks but forget the hinges.

  • I think the question is if you were renting and the owner put in the cheap internal door would you like it?
    If you can afford a rental property you can afford to put in a decent door!!!

  • Can almost guarantee you need a fire rated door. I wouldn’t risk it. I’ve built a couple of unit blocks and have never gotten away without a fire door. If you have an issue they will refer to current codes as a bench Mark when assessing.

  • Apart from the security aspect, you will have to consider the fire safety compliance. Our apartment front doors get checked annually along with the fire alarms, so I guess you will find out if u need to replace the front (internal) door, at that point.

  • What's the price difference?

    30-40 bucks?

    • Not sure on a regular door. Getting a fire door ordered, painted and fit to my apartment in Melbourne cost about $1400. I had other quotes at about $2k. I did get a normal door person to come and he had much cheaper pricing, he said he could install the door as there was no marker indicating that a fire rated door had to be used, but he thought it was strange.

      It's interesting that in NSW its the strata's responsibility. Doesnt appear to be so in Melbourne. I know our building safety compliance stuff here is no where near as rigorously enforced as in NSW. Although, I do still believe it is a requirement to have a fire rated door, particularly if you are renting it out. I wouldnt want to think about the personal liablity if your tenants died in a fire and you had not had the unit at the required code.

      Back to my building, my strata swore up and down that our doors were not only fire rated but likely contained asbestos. However, it didnt, my existing door was definitely a hollow core door and didnt contain asbestos, so I dont know if the previous owner who did rent the place out, also cheaped out on it and replaced it with an internal hollow core door. I was replacing the door primarily for noise, the previous door let in so much noise from the hallway, in another wise solidly built double brick apartment, it was incredibly frustrating.

      • Part of the cost may have also been that it came with a fire rating certification. I dunno.

  • +3 votes

    IF you are using a carpenter, then, for the overall cost, you are saving a pittance. If not, then I can understand your aim of saving maybe $150. However I assume that it would be a tax deduction. Whichever the door, give it several coats of sealer & paint. I'd do this in advance, and then touchup after installation and then an overall finish coat. A door should last a lot longer than 11 years!

  • While you are at it, remove the ceiling too

  • Just because the current door is also hollow, doesn't mean that it's a compliant door. I also wouldn't trust what the Strata company tell you… they often don't know and their compliance with Essential Safety Measures maintenance throughout the industry is extremely poor (I'm talking single digits as a percentage).

    I can't stress enough - to replace the door with one that is compliant with the Occupancy Permit (OP) and the Building Code - you can contact the Municipal Building Surveyor, or your local Fire Service and they will likely be able to advise what you need… the OP should also be on display in the main entry to the building.

    If you require a smoke or fire door (or any type of safety/rated door):
    The State Building Authorities, Municipal Building Surveyors and Fire Services are doing building inspections for apartments at the moment. A part of this audit is to check the doors to all apartments are compliant Fire or Smoke Doors, with smoke seals, plaques on door and frame, self-closers etc. If you are found to have a non-compliant door, you will be ordered to replace it and given a very short time frame to have it done and could be fined. They could also order the current tenants to evacuate (as the non-compliant door is in breach of the Occupancy Permit) and you could be responsible for the cost of re-housing until they are able to return.

    That's the best case scenario.

    Worst case scenario, there is a fire in your building and someone in the apartment you own dies. Fire Investigators will very quickly discover that your door is not compliant, there will be no record of the maintenance company for your building having replaced it. You will find yourself in court being asked why you replaced the door with something non-compliant - they won't accept ignorance as an excuse and "because that door was cheaper" doesn't look good when justifying a death.

    You can save money on many maintenance requirements in an apartment - but the front door isn't one of those.

    This is not a telling off - good on you for asking the question.

  • I would hate to live in this guys place. Probably charge me for each flush