Door To Dream: Choosing The Right Exterior Door

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A gorgeous front door makes a grand entrance in any home. But not all entry doors were created equally. Here’s a comparison to help you choose the right one.


We open them, we close them, and sometimes we hold them for others. No, I’m not talking about your secret bag of cookies. (Because we all know the tastiest cookies are never held for others.) I’m talking about your front door, of course.

Whether you lean towards modern or classic aesthetics, practicality or function, nothing says, “Welcome home” quite like the look and feel of a beautiful front door. Today, we’re opening the doors to a world of style with a look at a few types of popular exterior doors.

Here’s how each type of material stacks up when it comes to durability, style, and economy:

Exterior Door Choices

Wood Doors

Emanating an effortless natural style and beauty, a real wood door is truly something to write home about. While some homeowners prefer fiberglass or steel doors, others will accept nothing less than the real deal.

wood exterior door

But before you choose a wood exterior door, be mindful of conditions and care. If you live in rainy Seattle, for example, all that moisture could do a number on your door. Without the right upkeep, wood doors are susceptible to splintering, warping, and rot.

To protect against damp conditions, make sure you have a decent-sized door overhang. (Think of it as an umbrella for your door.) If you live in a dry, arid climate (like Reno, Nevada), you might be able to skip the door overhang altogether. When in doubt, talk to a licensed installer in your area.

Ready to follow in Mother Nature’s footsteps?

Fiberglass Doors

If your heart’s set on the look of wood, but you can’t stomach the upkeep and cost, fiberglass doors offer an easy-care alternative. When stained, painted, and finished correctly, fiberglass doors mimic the look of natural wood pretty convincingly.

fiberglass exterior door frosted glass

Fiberglass doors are a popular choice due to their durable, energy-smart, economical, and stylish nature. Plus, if you choose a prefinished model, you can spend your Sunday eating brunch and sipping lattes, instead of—you know—sanding and painting.

Looking for a low-maintenance, energy-efficient dynamo?

Steel Doors

steel exterior front door with sidelite

With loads of durability, security features, insulation value, and economy, it’s no surprise that steel is another popular choice for exterior doors. Standing up to harsh weather like a salty sailor in a windstorm, steel doors hardly ever crack, bow, or rust. Much like fiberglass doors, steel doors are also offered in styles that look like wood—minus the maintenance.

When choosing a steel door, however, remember that dents and scratches can be tricky to repair. If something happens—maybe the neighbor’s kid chucks a football into your door—make sure you repair any damage immediately. But, if you’re reasonably careful, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Ready for a steel of a deal? (You see what I did there?)

Iron Doors

Like the entrance of a great manor, iron doors are truly elegant and unique. With a distinct appearance that’s sure to rouse reverence and awe, iron doors are uniquely structured and available in a variety of sizes. With a distinct, prominent aesthetic achieved through hand-forged, twisted iron shapes and scrollwork, iron doors are a dazzling statement piece that creates a lasting impression.

iron exterior doors 2

Foam insulated and designed with indoor temperature control in mind, iron doors deliver beauty and function. Plus, they’re strong, sturdy, built to endure harsh weather, and aren’t easily damaged.

Although iron doors can be pricier than other types of doors, they typically won’t need to be replaced for many years. Plus, they up your home’s resale value. Think of iron doors as a long-term investment. (Kind of like a gym routine or your 401K.)

Ready to iron out the details? (That’s my last pun for today—I swear.)

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at