How to Select a Front Door

How to Select a Front DoorEntry doors must be tough enough to withstand wind, rain, cold temperatures, sweltering sun and potential intruders, yet attractive enough to make a good first impression. Whether your front door is old and warped, or you just want to trade your solid door in for one with glass panels that offers more light, you will find plenty of options available.

With the advent of materials that look like real wood, resist the elements better than earlier wood versions, and provide greater security, replacing your entry doors is a low cost project that can also yield high returns on investment and update the front entry. So, here are a few items to consider when it comes to choosing a front entry door for your home.

The first thing to look at when it comes to installing a new entry door is how much of the elements your door will be exposed to. It’s important to look very closely at the durability of the material and the quality of the weatherstripping system to make sure the door will hold up and keep air and water out.

After examining exposure to the elements, it’s time to consider the three different types of materials entry doors are typically made of – steel, fiberglass, or wood. Made of an inner frame of wood or steel with a 24-gauge steel skin (or thicker on premium doors), the cavities of most steel doors are filled with high-density foam insulation. Finishes are usually a baked-on polyester, with premium doors having a vinyl coating for improved weather resistance or sometimes even a textured finish that can be factory stained.

Steel doors require little maintenance. These highly durable doors are resistant to rust, cracking, and bowing, which means they last longer and save you money in the long run. Since steel doors offer insulating properties, they are energy-efficient and can even lower your heating and cooling costs.

Fiberglass entry doors are also tough and virtually maintenance-free. With manufacturers offering products that resemble the look of Mahogany, Cherry, Knotty Alder, Fir, and Oak, these doors provide the look and feel of a solid wood door without the required maintenance. Typically made of molded skins of fiberglass on a framework of wooden stiles and rails, these doors also contain high-density foam insulation that ensures the best protection against energy loss inside the house.

Steel or fiberglass doors typically carry the longest warranties of any of the three material options, and can range anywhere from a basic unit without any glazing to a complete entry system with decorative glass, sidelights, and upscale hardware.

While still a popular choice for homeowners that want a period-correct appearance, wood doors come in a wide variety of styles and can accept nearly any stain or paint color. Most wood doors now are actually veneer skins over an engineered wood core that helps them resist shrinking, swelling, and warping that is common with solid wood doors.

Wood doors work best when installed in a dry, protected area. Unless they’re under an overhang or located in a shaded area, homeowners will have to perform some routine maintenance, such as periodic resealing, while keeping an eye out for warping and weather damage.

With the potential to increase the value of the home 7-10%, a front door is a major aesthetic of any house. It’s typically the first thing people see when they look at your house. So, be sure to take the time and explore each of these three materials and their various styles when deciding on the type of front entry door is right for your home.

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