by Tim Liegler
Entry doors are often the focal point of your home, plus they offer an excellent return on investment. When visitors approach, it’s typically what draws their eye, and you want the first impression to be distinctive. As a homeowner, you want it to say your home is welcoming and well cared for.
One of the things I like to tell my customers is to put a little of themselves in the entry door. There are many design elements that allow your front door to make a personal statement. For example, there are 40 different glass packages, more than a dozen different door styles, multiple staining options, and 60 paint colors, all of which can be mixed and matched. If you’re spunky and outgoing, choose a vibrant door color. If you’re more low-key, a traditional wood grain or neutral colored door may be your choice.
I have received many calls from homeowners who say, “I just need a door.” But there are so many other things to consider, depending on your personal preference, architectural style, color, and performance requirements.
First of all, there are the three types of entry door materials to consider: wood, fiberglass, and steel.
Wood doors offer a very traditional look and provide a sense of warmth and richness. Homeowners can choose from a variety of styles and most wood species you can imagine. Wood doors, which can be custom made, need to be carefully finished (stained or painted) according to manufacturer specifications and periodic maintenance is required.
Fiberglass doors come with an environmentally friendly polyurethane core that provides insulation properties that are at least four times greater than wood doors. Low maintenance fiberglass doors come factory painted or stained for years of lasting beauty. Fiberglass entry doors come with a high-impact compression molded skin that will not splinter, warp, or rot. Architecturally correct, full-length composite stiles and top and bottom rails are standard. Wood grains that replicate the look of cherry, fir, mahogany, and oak are available.
I like to recommend steel doors for their incredible performance, safety, and beauty. Be careful of “insulated door” labels that you find at big box stores. Those doors have fiberglass batts of insulation panels inside the door that can create an air pocket where condensation occurs, eventually resulting in rot. With a 100 percent foam filled door, that doesn’t happen. Steel doors also are durable, resist splitting and cracking, and are energy efficient. They come prepainted or prestained in a smooth or textured finish.
Doors can be flat panel or have high definition panel profiles. Glass
options include clear double insulated glass or a variety of triple
glazed designer glass styles. Homeowners have the option of choosing
privacy ratings as well as choosing options in any size, shape, texture,
pattern, or designer glass. The glass can be etched, patterned,
textured, beveled, and designed with simulated divided lite and grilles
between the glass. Homeowners can also choose from brass or lead
caning. These decorative glass designs are sealed between two panes of
tempered “safety” glass, providing the energy efficiency of triple
Just like glass packages, door hardware comes in many
colors and shapes. Handles and hinges can be ornate or simple and
finishes run the gamut: nickel, satin nickel, bright brass, antique
brass, oil-rubbed bronze, matte black, and satin stainless steel.
door options to take into consideration are whether you want to have a
kick panel, peep hole, mail slot, and depending on the size of your
opening, sidelights and transoms.
Many homeowners prefer to add a
storm door to their entry system for added security, insulation,
ventilation, and light. One caution is that if you choose a full-view
glass storm door, and the door is facing west or south and getting
direct sunlight, you want to make sure it’s vented. That’s because the
glass will create a thermal pocket, trapping the heat, which can cause
damage to the entry door.
With all the customization options
available, my experience is that homeowners either become very excited
or very overwhelmed. That is where a trained product specialist with an
eye for design can help by explaining and offering ideas of what will
look and work best with the architecture and performance standards