Have you ever been strolling through your neighboorhood when a beautiful home caught your eye? Maybe it had cute gingerbread trim, a swooping A-frame roof, a wraparound porch or a huge bay window that would be perfect for snuggling in a sunny armchair with an engrossing book.
Or maybe the front door caught your eye. With cute frosted windows, gleaming white paint and accent beams that looked rustic and modern at the same time, the door seemed to stand proudly above the front steps and invite you into its beautiful home.
If you love bay windows but your house doesn’t have them, you’ll be hard-pressed to add these features to your house without hours of labor and an immense expense. But your front door is a different matter.
To give your home a fresh look and add benefits like security and energy savings, consider upgrading your front door. Below we’ll discuss some factors to consider — from your personal preferences and style to your budget — as you’re thinking about how to choose an entry door.
What Materials Fit Your Home?
When you’re shopping for a new front door, you often have an overwhelming array of choices. The details of your door’s size, style, color and finish clamor for your attention.
Your front door is similar to the nose on a face — it may not seem like the most important feature, but it brings together and balances all the others, and it affects the composition as a whole. Your front door also makes a first impression on the people who pass by your house. A tasteful, beautifully stained door with elegant glass panels lends an understated style to your home. A bright red front door adds pop and pizzazz. A white front door to complement white accents and a glossy picket fence adds bright country charm.
Yet style is not the only consideration when you’re choosing a front door. The material your door is made of is a crucial decision as well. Your front door should be durable enough to weather pouring rain, driving snow and blazing sun. It should also be sturdy enough to rebuff thieves or home invaders. A stylish door pleases the eye and is certainly worth paying for, but your front door’s durability and security are what truly make it a sound investment.
Consider these common door materials when you’re looking for a new front door.
1. Wooden Doors
Wooden doors are a solid, traditional option. They are classically beautiful, and you can easily dress them up with many types of paints and stains.
Wooden doors are susceptible to the elements, though, and they will wear down with time. If you’ve ever encountered a wooden door that sticks in the humidity, that’s because the porous wood swells with the high moisture content in the air. Wood, for all of its old-fashioned charm, also tends to warp, buckle, crack and even rot over time.
Additionally, the porous nature of wood and the continual wear and tear from the elements mean that wooden doors make poor insulators. A wooden door, especially as it ages, lets in cold drafts in the winter and heat in the summer. This limited level of insulation can decrease the comfort of your home and increase your energy costs.
Wooden doors also require regular repainting and resanding maintenance to fend off chips and splinters. And to keep your home looking sharp and giving protection from the summer heat and winter snow, you will likely have to replace your wooden door after several years.
Though solid wood doors are among the cheapest options in terms of up-front costs, the increased energy and yearly maintenance costs make them more expensive over time.
If you plan to stick with a traditional wooden door but would like an upgrade on solid wood, you can consider an engineered wood or wood veneer door. These doors have cores made of layers of compressed wood and are covered with wooden veneers. The wooden veneers lend the door the warm, hardy, attractive look of real wood, while the compressed wood core makes this type of door more durable than solid wood doors. Because of their denser and more complex construction, these doors are more expensive than solid wood doors, but they offer savings in comparison to doors made of steel or fiberglass.
2. Steel Doors
Steel doors offer a substantial upgrade on wood in terms of their sturdiness and durability. Steel doors will last for many years without breaking down, even under harsh weather conditions. If you live in New England or the mid-Atlantic, where salty sea air, frigid, snowy winters and hot, humid summers all conspire to strip wooden doors down over time, a steel door may be a desirable option. Unlike wooden doors, steel doors are nonporous and moisture-resistant, so they won’t warp, rot, splinter, crack or shrink.
A steel door typically consists of a strong steel exterior and an insulating foam interior, so it will help keep your house toasty warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It will also keep you from running up hefty energy bills. A steel door without a window offers five times the insulating capacity of a wooden door of the same size.
A steel door also requires very little upkeep over the years. Steel doors won’t swell with the humidity, so even in the summer, you’ll be able to open your front door without sweating, grunting or kicking it in frustration. The one weakness of a steel door is that it may rust in especially wet or humid weather.
Steel doors also offer the most formidable defense against potential intruders, standing firm and strong against the staunchest of blows. For the maximum level of safety and security for your home, household and belongings, consider choosing a steel door.
Steel doors are sometimes thought of as cold and imperious, lacking the warm, homey charm of wooden doors. But with modern, elegant steel models, this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Though steel doors can’t be stained to look like wood, they come in a variety of attractive paint colors. They also offer many customizable window and decorative paneling options.
3. Fiberglass Doors
If wood offers an abundance of comfortable charm and steel offers unflinching, durable protection, fiberglass offers a marriage of the best of both.
Fiberglass doors are often indistinguishable from wood in their appearance. Liberty Door and Awning has doors like the Craftsman Collection, which look wooden but are made of more durable fiberglass. They offer an aesthetic appeal that is sure to delight modern homeowners who are looking to add a touch of the classic to their homes while benefiting from more modern construction. Fiberglass doors are available in a variety of beautiful finishes that can make them look just like their wooden counterparts. They are exceptionally durable and will require very little maintenance, even in harsh climates.
Fiberglass doors are also exceptionally energy-efficient. So homeowners with fiberglass doors can do something good for the environment and save money on their heating and cooling bills at the same time. As with steel doors, a fiberglass door without a window offers five times the insulating capacity of a wooden door of the same size. Though a fiberglass door may come with a higher up-front cost than a wooden door or even a steel door, the energy savings will soon make up for the price discrepancy — and then some.
Like wooden and steel doors, fiberglass doors can be personalized with stylish decorative windows for added charm and aesthetic appeal. The wide variety of options and personal touches mean that no matter what you’re looking for in a front door, you can find something you and your home will love for years to come.
Consider Other Factors
Here are a few other factors to consider when you’re choosing a new front door.
If you’re buying a new front door, consider how it fits into the context of your home and neighborhood as well as how it fits with your personal tastes.
Maybe you love natural light and would be happiest if your door had glass inserts, even if they lowered the door’s energy efficiency a little. Maybe the decor of your home is light, bright and airy, so a somber, heavy-beamed wooden door wouldn’t suit your style. Or maybe your home is a funky, bright-colored affair, and a cherry-red front door is just what you need to tie the whole place together.
Though it’s important to consider essential benefits like durability and energy savings, don’t forget to have a little fun with the process too. Get a door that you enjoy looking at. After all, you’ll be seeing it every day for many years.
The standard height of a front door is 80 inches, and standard widths are 30, 32 and 36 inches. Building codes and industry standards tend to shift with time, so especially in an older home, your front door may have different dimensions.
A wooden door can sometimes be sanded and planed to a different size, but steel and fiberglass doors don’t typically allow for this option. If you have a doorframe that’s a tricky size, you may want to go for a wooden door.
You can also look into getting a steel or fiberglass door custom-made for your home, though as with any one-off product, a customized door will lead to added expense.
As with a new car, new appliance or any other major addition to your home, you’ll want to consider the upfront costs. You should also consider what your new purchase will cost to maintain. You can buy an inexpensive solid wood door, and your bank account will appreciate it in the short term — but take into account how that purchase will stand up to years of weathering.
Perhaps your new front door will warp or swell after a few years, eventually rotting and splintering into pieces with just one good blow. On the other hand, maybe it will help lower your heating and cooling bills, and you’ll never have to worry about rot, dents or rust. Considering these possibilities in advance helps you determine the longevity of your new front door. It also helps you figure out what is right for your budget over the long term. Often, the higher upfront cost of a steel or fiberglass door can lead to considerable savings as the years go by.
4. Energy Efficiency
Entry doors receive ratings on their energy efficiency — both on how much heat they keep out and how much they keep in. The National Fenestration Rating Council gives different types of doors two energy efficiency ratings — a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and a U-factor rating.
- SHGC: This number, which ranges from 0 to 1, is a measure of how well the door keeps out solar hear. A door with a low SHGC is ideal for a hot climate. The best exterior doors for direct sunlight, for example, will have low SHGCs to prevent solar energy from coming in. In a cold climate, where there is less need to keep out solar heat, a high SHGC is best for allowing sunlight in to heat the home.
- U-factor: By contrast, U-factor, which can range from 0 to 2, refers to how much heat the door allows to escape from the home. A door with low U-factor is ideal, especially in cold climates, because it traps heat in the home for added warmth.
Typically, because of their insulated polyurethane foam cores, steel and fiberglass doors have greater energy efficiency than wooden doors. Choose one of these doors if energy savings and eco-friendliness are high priorities for your home.
The FBI reports that in 2017, 1.4 million burglaries took place in the United States, causing property owners losses of $3.4 million. The average burglary causes its victims a loss of $2,416, as well as uncountable costs to domestic comfort and peace of mind.
Additionally, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors reports that over one-third of burglars enter a home through the front door.
To protect yourself against burglaries and home invasions, consider investing in a tough door such as a sturdy fiberglass door, or even better, a nearly impregnable steel door. Steel doors are the best front doors for security — the robust metal construction and durable cores of these doors help them stand strong against intruders. Always remember to lock and deadbolt your doors as well.
All wood, steel and fiberglass doors benefit from professional installation. Hanging a new door is a precise and delicate operation. The last thing you want is a subtle misalignment that put stress on the door’s hinges, lets in drafty air and keeps your door from opening and closing smoothly.
Shop around to see if the door companies near you offer professional installation options with the purchase of a new door. If you’re trying to decide between a few different doors, one of them may come with an installation option that’s reasonably priced and hassle-free. The convenience of that option can help you make a decision.
7. Resale Value
Though you may not be planning to move soon, you never know what new opportunities may await you down the road. For this reason, it can be helpful to consider what will show well on the market if you ever decide to sell your house.
If you decide on a solid wood door, that’s a fine choice — but how will that door look to potential buyers after it’s endured a few years of weathering? On the other hand, if you invest in a strong steel or fiberglass door now, potential buyers may see tremendous value in the security and durability that those doors provide.
Contact Liberty Door and Awning About Your Options for Front Doors
Now that you know how to choose a front door, put your new knowledge to work. For an entry door that provides security, minimizes power consumption, lowers your energy bills, requires little maintenance and can be the envy of the neighborhood, look no further than Liberty Door and Awning.
We want to help you find the perfect entry door for your home, style and budget. Contact us today.