How to Choose a Front Door
A home is a reflection of your personality and tastes. Each new piece of furniture and decor you choose becomes a part of your daily life. When you stop to think about it that way, your front door is the face of your home. Family coming over for the holidays, friends stopping by to visit, kids coming over for a playdate — they all stand in front of that door and knock before entering. You want that front door to be a welcoming part of your home, but you also want it to fit your budget, provide your home with security and last for years to come. That’s a tall order for your new front door, so you’ll want to do your research to make sure you pick the right one for your house.
Types of Front Doors
The material is one of the first features to consider when selecting a front door. Different material will come with varying benefits, and of course, a different aesthetic. Here are details about the three most common types of entry doors.
Steel doors are a trendy option, accounting for approximately half the market. Here is what you need to know about steel doors:
- Durability: Steel door design takes a high level of strength into account. Rough treatment of the door may lead to dents, but regular use will not result in cracking or warping.
- Security: Steel doors are as strong as, well, steel. That makes steel one of the best front doors for safety. This durable material is not likely to cave in to any attempted intrusion. Manufacturers typically make this type of door with 16- to 26-gauge steel. Lower gauges indicate increased thickness.
- Energy efficiency: A door made entirely of steel is not going to offer a high level of energy efficiency. The door will become quite hot or cold, based on the temperature outdoors. But, most steel front doors have a core of insulating material. This material helps capture heat and cold, improving the energy efficiency of your home.
- Maintenance: The durability of a steel door means homeowners do not need to perform much upkeep to ensure the door stays in top condition. The smooth surface of these doors is resistant to issues like warping and cracking. Correct finish on the door will also ensure it does not rust.
- Look: Steel doors typically have a smooth, clean-cut appearance with few frills. If you are looking for a little more personalization, you can select a different paint color or veneer to reflect your style.
Fiberglass is a versatile material made of glass. Manufacturers can add other materials to the glass, depending on its ultimate use. Here’s what you need to know about fiberglass composite front doors:
- Durability: This type of door can last up to 20 years, making it an incredibly durable option. Fiberglass is not prone to dents, cracking or rust.
- Security: One of the primary jobs of any front door is to keep you and your family safe, which makes security a vital feature. When properly installed, fiberglass doors offer safety you can trust. A composite frame has a superb ability to hold screws, which mean your fiberglass door isn’t going anywhere.
- Energy efficiency: A rating called R-value reflects a material’s thermal resistance, and the U.S. Department of Energy ranks fiberglass doors highly for their insulating value. That makes fiberglass doors a top energy-efficient option.
- Maintenance. Since fiberglass doors are unlikely to dent or crack, they require little in the way of upkeep. A little soap and water will go a long way to clean off regular wear from coming into contact with the elements.
- Look: The versatility of fiberglass is one of its most attractive qualities. You can do a lot of different things with the look of a fiberglass door. You can opt for a smooth surface fiberglass door and paint it any color you want, or you can go with a stain that looks just like real wood.
Wood is a timeless classic with a lot of options when it comes to front door styles. Here is what you need to know about front doors made of wood:
- Durability: Wood can be vulnerable to rain and moisture, so it is essential to consider strength when shopping for your new front door. Wood doors with high-quality stains and finished can help protect your door from the warping and cracking that can happen as a result of weather exposure.
- Security: Wood doors offer a high level of protection for your home. Sometimes people are concerned wood is not as strong as steel or fiberglass, but not to worry — A wood door with the right hinges and lockset will be just as effective at deterring attempted break-ins.
- Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency is not the most outstanding feature of wood front doors, but that does not mean you can’t find one with enough insulation. Carefully examine the thickness of solid wood doors. Some wood doors may also contain a type of foam core designed to improve insulation.
- Maintenance: Wood doors are one of the most popular exterior door types because of their beautiful aesthetic. Keep in mind maintaining that high-polish look does take some extra care. If you choose a wood door, you may need to sand, re-prime and restain it to retain its original look. While shopping for a wood door, be sure to check what kind of protection each door has against water. Moisture can make wood vulnerable to warping and cracking.
- Look: Wood has a timeless appeal. Plus, you can choose from a variety of different types of wood, stains and carving.
How to Choose a Front Door Style
The material of your front door is not the only feature to consider. Once you’ve decided on steel, fiberglass or wood, you also have to think about the following factors.
- Size: The typical front entryway door will be 80 inches tall and 26 inches wide with a width of about two inches. You will need to measure your current front door to ensure the typical size will fit. Some homes have different sizes, such as a double-door entry. Before purchasing a door, ensure you have the correct measurements. Remember to factor customization into your budget if your home requires a door outside of the typical size.
- Color and finish: The color and finish are going to be the first thing anyone notices about your front door. When selecting the color and finish for your door, you will want to make sure that it will withstand the test of time. Does the paint or finish offer sufficient protection for your door? Next, you will want to think about the aesthetic. Feel free to get creative with color — it is your house and your style. But, ask yourself if it fits with the overall style of your home. You want to be happy with your choice without diminishing the curb value of your home.
- Windows. Windows are a standard front door feature. They let sunshine into your home and are a reflection of your style. Some doors will come with a window, while you also have the option of adding a customized window. Whichever route you go, you will want to think about the shape, type of glass and location of the window. Does the appearance fit with the style of your home’s other windows? Does the type of glass offer enough privacy and security? It is essential that the glass be resistant to breakage and far enough away from the door handle to deter potential intruders.
- Panels: Steel, fiberglass and wood doors come with a variety of different paneling options. Many steel doors come with a smooth surface, so you may not find as many panel options as with fiberglass or wood doors. The most common type of panel door is also called a stile-and-rail door. This type of door features rectangular panels that come in groups of four, six or eight. Doors can also feature glass paneling. This feature is one place you can explore your style.
- Hardware: Hardware for your front door functions as a vital part of your home’s security. The primary hardware features your door will need include the lockset, doorknob and doorjamb. There is a lot of room to play around in each of these categories. For example, you can choose between a keyed lockset or an electronic lockset. When it comes to doorknobs, you have your choice of shape and material. Some people prefer antique glass doorknobs, while others prefer round, modern metal doorknobs. You can choose a knob, and even customize its finish, to match the style of the door and the rest of your home. Doorjambs, on the other hand, are all about function. Though barely visible, this hardware adds an extra layer of security to your door and door frame by making it more difficult to force entry.
Other Front Door Features to Consider
- What are the best exterior doors for direct sunlight? Some homes have a shaded entryway underneath a covered porch or facing in a direction that does not get constant sunlight. If your front door consistently gets exposed to direct sunlight, you want to make sure you choose one that will endure the light and warmer temperature. Fiberglass or steel may be the best option for doorways exposed to hours of direct sunlight each day. The sun beating down day after day may age a wood door and add to its maintenance requirements. Be sure to check the energy efficiency of whatever door you choose. You want to make sure it will not allow too much heat indoors. Additionally, the best exterior door for direct sunlight will not become too hot to touch.
- What are the best exterior doors for cold weather? The best front doors for winter weather are going to be those with high levels of energy efficiency. You do not want a door that is going to let all that cold air inside, driving up your heating bills. The key feature to look for here is insulation. Does the door have a layer designed to protect against temperature extremes? You can find energy-efficient doors made of steel, fiberglass or wood. If the cold temperatures that hit your home also come with high levels of moisture, you will need to factor that into your decision. You do not want a door that will easily warp, crack or rust when it comes into regular contact with snow or rain.
- What are the best front doors for security? Security is your door’s No. 1 job. No matter how the door looks or its location on your home, you want to know it will keep you and your family safe. You can easily find secure front doors made of steel, fiberglass or wood. Whatever material you choose, it needs to be thick enough to withstand attempts at forced entry. Look at the gauge of any steel doors you are considering, as well as the thickness of any fiberglass and wood doors on your list. Of equal, if not greater importance, is the hardware on your door. Does the door fit securely into its frame? Does it have sturdy hinges and doorjamb? Does the door have a deadbolt lock? A door that fits snugly into its frame with effective hardware is going to offer the best security for your home.
Find Your Dream Door at Hunter Door
Hunter Door has an extensive collection of entry doors from Clopay and Provia. Whether you are looking for steel, fiberglass or wood, we can help you find the perfect new door to your home. Find your style with Clopay’s Arbor Grove Fiberglass Collection, Smooth Fiberglass Collection, Craftsman Collection, Rustic Collection or Steel Collection. Provia offers some of the best fiberglass exterior doors in its Embarq, Signet and Heritage collections. We also carry the strength of Provia’s Legacy Steel collection. Our family-owned business is here to help you make entry into your South Jersey home safe, secure and in line with your style.