Front Door Guide: How To Choose The Best Ones?

Wind, rain, searing sun, and would-be burglars must all be able to pass through entry doors, but they must also be attractive enough to give a good first impression. Unfortunately, many front doors struggle to meet those requirements. The majority of older ones are made of wood or wood veneer, both of which warp, crack, and delaminate over time. Metal doors, too, may not last indefinitely; the surface of certain older steel doors can peel.

Whether that describes your front door or you simply want to replace a solid door with one that has glass panels to let in more light, you’ll find plenty of choices. There are new wood doors that are more weather resistant than older models, as well as metal and fiberglass doors that look like wood but give more security and are generally less expensive.

How to Install a New Front Door

When replacing a door, it’s sometimes as simple as swapping out one slab or blank for another. However, you may need to tear out and replace the existing door framing, including the door jambs and threshold, in some circumstances, especially if these wood parts have begun to decay.

Even if the existing door frame is in good condition, the wall studs to which it is nailed can bow and settle out of square. It’s tough to open and close the door because of this. To make a new wood door fit an out-of-square frame, plane the top and bottom edges or even trim one of these corners so the door hangs straight. Metal and fiberglass doors cannot be planed or cut, therefore this is only a possibility with a wood door.

Front Doors That Have Been Prehung

The majority of new doors are prehung, which means they are hinged within a new frame (these systems also include some form of weatherstripping). Prehung doors are a great option if the old frame is in bad shape or if you wish to widen the entrance by removing it.

If you’re replacing an old door with a prehung unit, you’ll need to decide whether you want a left- or right-hand door. Face the outside while standing in the doorway. You have a right-hand door if the lockset is on your right.

Measure the tv stands height and width of the existing door jamb between the inside borders of the casing to determine the correct jamb size. Increase the frame height by 1/2 inch and the breadth by 1/2 to 3/4 inch. The door’s breadth is measured over its entire face. The majority of doors are 3-0 (36 inches) or wider.

Kits for replacing doors

Use door-replacement kits, such as Replace Door Systems from Pease Industries, as an alternative to replacing the entire frame. The door is prehung in this case in a small steel frame that connects to the old one. Easy installation and the steel frame’s additional security are two advantages. These kits, on the other hand, somewhat reduce the original aperture, come in a limited number of sizes, and cannot be fitted over rotten jambs.

Designs for Front Doors

Most manufacturers provide hundreds of door types, and lumberyards, home malls, and door dealers all have a large range. Alternatively, you can create your own door. Some manufacturers allow you to choose the sort of panels and glass you desire. However, these doors must be purchased in advance and take two to eight weeks to arrive. A third alternative is to have a wood door built to your specifications by a local carpenter or millwork business. The disadvantages are, once again, time and money.

The Best Front Door Materials

The material of your door is perhaps the most crucial decision. The majority of doors include multiple materials; for example, many fiberglass and steel doors have wood frames. However, the aesthetic, durability, security, and price are all influenced by the surface material.

Doors made of wood

The most frequent type of door is wood. Their major suits are versatility and attractiveness. Oak, cherry, walnut, mahogany, maple, fir, and pine are among the natural-finish stock and custom wood doors available. Paint-grade doors are also available in a variety of softwood species, including pine and western hemlock.

Wood-veneer skins are sandwiched over an engineered-wood core in many stock wood doors. This arrangement reduces the amount of expansion and contraction that causes warping. They’re a low-cost alternative to solid-wood doors, starting at around $200. Look for robust, furniture-grade veneers with a thickness of at least 1/16 inch; anything thinner is prone to harm.

By laminating two pieces of wood to construct the stiles and rails, companies like Lamson-Taylor, Pella, and Simpson prevent bowing and warping. Door panels are also made of split structure, but they contain an insulation core. As a result, the wood door has an R-5 insulation value, compared to R-2 for traditional versions. These doors range in price from $300 to $500.

Solid-wood doors are the most expensive. A three-foot-wide x six-foot-eight-inch-high six-panel pine door costs at least $600, with hardwood doors costing significantly more. A complete system, which includes a prehung door in its frame, hinges, locksets, sidelights, and weatherstripping, should cost between $2,000 and $4,000.

Look for lasting stains and clear treatments, such as polyurethane, when purchasing prefinished wood doors. For painted doors, high-gloss sheens provide the best protection. Apply the finish to the top and bottom edges, whichever you like. This helps to keep a wood door from swelling due to moisture absorption.

Look for attention to detail as well. The nicer the door, the more elaborate the carvings and moldings are, and the thicker and wider the stiles and rails are. The same can be said about panel thickness. Nord’s high-end doors, for example, have 1 3/8-inch panels against 9/16- and 3/4-inch panels on low-end ones.

Doors made of steel

If security and durability are key requirements, a steel door is the ideal option. Steel doors are more durable than wood or fiberglass doors and will not break or warp. An auto-body repair kit can be used to remove and putty any dents or dings on these doors.

Steel doors are also the least expensive: A three-foot-wide x six-foot-eight-inch-tall paneled door without hardware or glazing costs around $150. However, a steel door system with sidelights and superior hardware might cost nearly as much as a wood door system.

All steel doors feature a wooden or steel inner frame for added strength. High-density foam insulation is used to fill the holes within the frame. Premium doors feature a steel frame and a 24-gauge covering, however some have a heavier-gauge steel frame (represented by a lower number). The surface is usually smooth or embossed with a wood grain pattern.

Most steel doors have a baked-on polyester surface that needs to be repainted on a regular basis. For added weather resistance, premium models acquire a vinyl coating similar to that found on vinyl-clad windows. Some even include a stainable wood-fiber coating or a laminated-wood veneer on the most high-end variants.

Steel doors are commonly found as part of a prehung system. If you’re merely removing the old door from its hinges and replacing it with a new one, keep in mind that steel doors come with hinges connected or predrilled holes for the hinges. The door’s hinge area must match the current door frame’s hinge area. Some doors have an additional predrilled hole for the hinges, allowing for slight modifications when hanging the door.

Make sure the embossed wood grain runs horizontally on the rails and vertically on the stiles if you pick an embossed wood grain. Finally, make sure the warranty is valid. If you use an aluminum storm door with a steel door, certain manufacturers will void the warranty. The reason for this is that heat accumulation between the doors could peel the finish.

Fiberglass-Composite Doors are a type of composite door made of fiberglass and plastic.

Fiberglass-composite doors are durable and low-maintenance, making them an excellent choice for harsh or humid environments. They include wood-grain texturing to resemble the look of wood and can be tinted to match oak, cherry, walnut, and a number of other woods. A framework of hardwood stiles and rails, including wood edges for the lockset, lies beneath their molded surface. Polyurethane-foam insulation is used to fill voids in the framework.

Long warranties are offered on fiberglass-composite doors. Pease Industries, for example, guarantees its models for as long as you own the home. These extended warranties are normally only available for entire entry systems that include the frame, because installation has an impact on longevity.

Another advantage is the cost. A 3-foot-wide x 6-foot 8-inch-tall paneled door without glazing or hardware should cost around $200. A fully loaded fiberglass entry system might cost around $4,000 due to the fact that accessories are the same regardless of the material.

Make sure the embossed wood-grain pattern runs horizontally on the rails and vertically on the stiles, as it does on steel doors. If you’re only replacing the door, make sure the hinges match the current frame.

Doors made of aluminum

Aluminum doors, like steel doors, have a metal covering over an insulating core. However, unlike other door systems, aluminum versions are only available through dealers. Each one is made specifically for your opening.

Manufacturers provide a wide range of possibilities. Hess Manufacturing’s Armaclad line, for example, offers a wide range of shapes and colors, as well as smooth and wood-grain finishes.

Aluminum doors have a baked-on enamel coating that means they don’t need to be painted and won’t rust, which explains the frequent 20-year warranties. An aluminum storm door can also match the color and style of your front door. All of these advantages, however, are not inexpensive. Aluminum doors are the most expensive option after solid wood, with costs starting at over $600.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Front Entry Door

Keep these shopping suggestions in mind whether you’re buying a single door or a complete door-and-frame system:

Ensure that all components of a comprehensive entry system are from the same manufacturer. (Many systems are put together by distributors using pieces that may or may not fit together precisely.) Check that the weatherstripping is in good working order and that the threshold interlocks with the door’s bottom edge.

On window units, look for low-e glazing. Some manufacturers offer break-in-resistant glazing for enhanced security. Decorative windows with actual lead or brass camming are more expensive than those with imitation camming.

A thermal break separates the interior and outside door skins on high-quality steel and fiberglass doors, which is usually a vinyl strip or a portion of the wood frame. This prevents frost from accumulating on the inner surface by preventing outside cold and heat from being transferred through the skin and frame.