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How to Select Your Entry Door

What color would look best on my home? How do I know my door will provide the best security for my home? How durable are entry doors to wear and tear? There are a lot of questions to consider when selecting an entry door for your home! To get started, let’s look at the primary features and options you should take into account when making your decision.


Entry Door Damage

The first sign of potential damage to your entry door is a dented, cracked, or broken door. Doors that are broken are not very common unless there was forced entry or the door is very outdated. Today’s door materials are not very prone to damage. The more common and lesser recognized sign of damage is difficulty closing or opening the door. This could be a sign that the frame of the door, or the studs it is attached to have rotted, bowed, or settled over time.


Door or Door and Frame System?

When you look at door options in a home store, you will have options to buy just a door, or an entire door and frame system. We usually recommend utilizing a full system to be sure all of the pieces interlock and connect correctly. If you have a frame system already, prioritize purchasing a door from the same manufacturer and same line.

Once you know whether you will need to replace your entire frame, or just the door, look at the features that separate entry doors on the market.


Material

There are four main competitors for entry door materials: wood, aluminum, steel, and fiberglass. The material of your door is the most important decision for your entry door, as it affects several factors like energy efficiency, security, price, and durability. Many doors utilize multiple materials when taking into account the door, frame, and jambs,


Fiberglassfiberglass door

Fiberglass doors are the latest and greatest doors on the market. Since it never rusts and never rots, like other door material options, fiberglass is the lowest maintenance option for homeowners. They also stand up incredibly well to any environment and stand up well to dents and frequent use. They are the most insulating option available, keeping your home extra efficient.

A great benefit of fiberglass doors is the ability to customize the door to mimic the traditional beauty of a wood door - right down to the texture. They are also a very affordable option. Fiberglass doors provide a lot for the money, so having the door properly installed and fitted correctly with a full entry system provides the greatest guarantee for the door’s life and function.


Aluminum

Aluminum doors won’t be something you can find on a store shelf. They are sold exclusively through dealers and each is custom made. Just like steel and fiberglass doors, aluminum doors have an insulating middle section that helps increase their insulating properties. The outer sides of the door are an enamel finish, so they don’t require maintenance or painting. These doors are a pricey option, second only to wood.


Steel

Steel doors are the strongest option available on the market as they don’t crack, warp, or rot. They are also the most affordable, or approximately equal cost to a wood door if the homeowner opts for a lot of additional features. Like fiberglass and aluminum doors, they also have an inner core made of wood or foam insulation. They do not shrink and swell in humidity, making them a durable option.
Steel doors are not maintenance-free, as the outer sections are a polyester finish, vinyl coating, or wood-fiber coating, that does require painting or staining for maintenance. Another maintenance factor to consider is the ease of denting. Steel doors do dent more easily, so if children, pets, or other potential dent factors are in your home, be aware that these will impact your door’s look. Steel doors can also rust and are not as weather-resistant as fiberglass and wood.
 

Woodwood entry door

Wood doors have been a top choice for a long time because of their versatility for color and stain options and beautiful appearance. Most wood doors are a combination of a wood “skin” that covers an engineered wood core. They stand up well to wear and tear and are not likely to be dented.

While they are beautiful, wood is not the most durable material. It is known to change size based on the climate and weather conditions, which can eventually lead to long term problems such as warping and rotting. There are several ways a homeowner can help prevent damage to a wood door by applying additional layers of protection through sanding, staining, and painting with protective materials, but these take quite a bit of maintenance. Wood doors are also usually pricey because of their higher-end look. High-quality wood doors cost even more and all will require regular upkeep.


Comparing Entry Door Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is important in all areas of your home, but entry doors are usually less of a concern because they don’t typically have much heat transfer. As long as the seal around the door is tight, the door will help maintain your indoor temperature. Doors that have glass panes may allow more energy transfer. If your door will have glass in it, be sure to choose glass that has energy efficient coatings and multiple panes of glass.


One factor that does make a big difference in energy efficiency is the core material of a door. The steel and fiberglass doors we install all have a polyurethane foam core. This core makes the door five times more efficient than a wood door and provides superior thermal performance.


Security Features on Entry Doorssecurity door

When you think about security, you may primarily think about the lock on your door. While this is a very important factor in security, it is not the sole determinant. If your door includes glass panes, be sure that they have glazes that offer additional break in defense.

When tested against forced entry, the strength of the door itself was not largely different based on material. But the lock strike plate and lock features do increase the doors’ resistance to break-in. The most important features on the lock are:

  • One-inch or longer deadbolt
  • A composite, metal lockbox and reinforced strike plate
  • Three-inch long screws used to mount the door, so they sink into the frame around the door jamb

Finally, doors that have a steel-edge offer a better rating for security as they are more durable against rotting or warping that could make a door less stable. Steel doors can also receive a fire rating which can protect from the spread of fire - a security feature that isn’t always top of mind. 


Special Features on Entry Doors

The exterior and interior style of your door can be customized to your home in many ways with color, patterns, glass inserts, and panels. In addition to the aesthetic options, there are additional features that can be customized. One of these is the lock mechanism.
The lock can be upgraded with a composite lock block and a reinforced strike plate to increase security. Multiple deadbolts that all function in unison can also provide additional protection. A threshold that is adjustable is another option. This can help keep the door tight over time to block out weather and form a tight seal against drafts.

storm door
Installing Your Entry Door

As we mentioned before, making sure your door and frame are a good fit is an incredibly important factor. Utilizing a full door system is the best option for being sure everything fits soundly. When you are installing your door, if the size of the door is being changed, or you want to add sidelights, your door will need to be reframed. Reframing the door can be a tricky process to make sure everything is properly sized. An incorrectly framed door will not be sturdy, regardless of the door you choose to install.

We say it often, but that is because it is true: buying the best products on the market won’t add value to your home if they aren’t installed correctly. Be sure you have the skills and experience needed to take this on or be sure to hire a contractor you trust.

While we’re on the subject of trust, remember also that this is the door that provides entry to your home. Be sure the company you work with to install it is one that you know has integrity. You don’t want to find out too late that the workers who installed your door could access your home at any time.


Conclusion

A door that is correctly installed and offers high quality can add incredible value to your home. You will be able to enjoy your new entry door and the benefits it provides, such as ease of operation, low maintenance, and energy savings in your home. Plus of course, a beautiful entry that makes an outstanding first impression in curb appeal, all while knowing your home and family is protected and secure.

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Scott and Leigh Ann Bowman Home Renovation - Manhattan, Kansas