When considering the purchase of a new door, there are a number of factors to take into account: material, energy efficiency and design are great starting points.
The more common materials for entry doors are fiberglass, steel, and wood. Each offers a range of benefits and price points to match your budget and styles to reflect your home’s design.
First, there’s a fiberglass door. Fiberglass doors are highly durable, resisting weather elements and offer great energy efficiency. They are not susceptible to dents like metal doors, however a very severe impact can crack the fiberglass. There are many options for looks with fiberglass doors. Many are ready to be stained (yes, they offer a beautiful wood look) or painted to match your house. Like most doors, fiberglass doors can come with glass inlay panels, solid panel doors and offer a variety of textures. A selection can be viewed here. Although low cost fiberglass doors are available, a high quality, customized fiberglass door can often be among the more expensive door options.
Next, let’s consider the very popular steel door. Steel doors are highly durable, but can be susceptible to dings, dents and scratches. If damage is unremedied and exposed to the elements, or the door is not well maintained, there is some concern for rusting and deterioration. Steel doors generally have a very energy-efficient core (although the energy efficiency can vary - be sure to check with your local building supply experts to make sure you are getting a high-efficiency door). A high quality steel door also provides the most security of any door. Overall, steel doors are generally more competitively priced than fiberglass, while still offering great energy efficiency and security. A competitive price point and excellent benefits makes steel doors the most popular exterior door on the market today, according to Consumer Reports.
The other commonly desired material for a new door is wood. To say ‘wood doors’ is an oversimplification as wood doors can be made from a variety of different species. For instance, Simpson Door crafts theirs from a variety of types including Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and American Red Oak. Each provides its own unique look and character. Wood doors are prized for their classic, beautiful look - there’s a reason why fiberglass and most other materials all try to mimic the look. Another benefit of wood is that it is hard to dent and any scratches can be repaired easily. However, due to wood being a natural material, it may be more susceptible to heat, sun, or wet conditions and requires more regular maintenance than fiberglass or steel. You should examine a wood door each year to make sure there aren’t any exposed or weakened spots that will need refinishing. If sealed properly and monitored, a wood door can be a beautiful investment to serve your home for years to come.
Once you’ve decided upon your door material, Consumer Reports would remind you to also be sure that you select an efficient lock to prevent burglaries or home invasions. In testing the different materials (as long as you weren’t dealing with a battering ram), the lockset choice and installation were the most important factors in preventing a break-in. Be sure that your new door is completed with a lock using a minimum 1-inch-long deadbolt and a reinforced metal strike box. Proper installation using the appropriate 3-inch-length mounting screws will ensure that they lodge in the framing beyond the doorjamb.
Energy Star ratings aren’t just for appliances! Fiberglass, steel, and wood doors each have the opportunity to receive an Energy Star rating. To best rate a product based upon the relative climate, Energy Star provides ratings broken out by United States regions of Northern, North Central, South Central or Southern. A number of attributes of the door are evaluated including condensation resistance and air leakage, including the thickness or volume of glass panes (as applicable) and the fit of the frame. Search for details and tested products at the EnergyStar website.
Whether you are considering a fiberglass, steel, or wood door as your main entry door, also remember that the same material consideration also applies to side doors and back doors! While updating your front door may add the most to your “curb appeal” and increase the value of your home, updating these additional doors can also lead to advanced safety and efficiency.
Now for some buyers this might be the fun part – design! It’s not to say that the material type should be your first consideration, but it may influence or be influenced by your design aesthetic. Are you looking for a solid door, or do you prefer a window panel within the door? Will you mount a single door, a door with side panels, or a double door? Are you looking to purchase a complementary style for your back patio or interior French doors? Many manufacturers carry a variety of doors to match a range of styles. Some doors will come pre-stained, offering you a selection of shades, or they may be raw and allow you to customize your selections.
Once you have a sense of the material selection for your door, and perhaps now you’ve considered the basic style (single panel, side panel, with or without windows, etc.), then the next step is to shop! Leading lumber companies recommend going in person to look at the brands and options available before making any orders. In the end this will save you time and help you to truly understand your purchase. Franklin Building Supply has a wonderful custom door shop in Twin Falls that services the Magic Valley, Wood River Valley and surrounding areas and can help you design and fabricate any door you have in mind.
A new door is an important investment in the quality, efficiency, and appeal of your home. Make sure you understand the maintenance on the door you are targeting, how to monitor energy efficiency performance over your previous door, and how to best make minor cosmetic touch-ups, repairing scratches or dents in the future. Manufacturer websites will often not only provide you catalogs or virtual design tools, but can also direct you to a local showroom or retailer that carries your targeted product, or a similar style or material.
Deciding on new exterior doors is a big decision, so it is a good idea to talk to and lean on the experts at your local lumberyard and door shop. Local lumberyards have salespeople dedicated to doors who will be able to use their experience and knowledge to help you sort through all of your wants and requirements to choose the exact right door for your home.