Exterior Doors Buying Guide
Whether you’re choosing new doors for a home you’re building or planning to upgrade a door in your current home, you want something durable that won’t break the bank. Preferably, it should also be attractive. Exterior doors can be practical as well as pretty, right?
Start reading this guide to find out what type of exterior door works best for your home. We’ll talk about pricing and style, energy efficiency, security, and durability. And of course, we’ll discuss the differences between different materials. Let’s go!
Exterior Doors Pricing and Styles
The pricing for exterior doors largely depends on the type of material used: steel, fiberglass, aluminum, solid wood, or iron. As with any home product, you’ll find a range of prices for each category, and the quality increases (usually) as the cost goes up. If you’re looking to keep the price down, look for a door without glass windows, and skip the sidelights.
Steel exterior doors are extremely common. They’re inexpensive and durable, giving you good value for your money. They come in a rainbow of colors, including shades of beige, blue, and green so you can express your personal style.
Exterior doors made of fiberglass are moderately priced and have the same benefits of steel. The main difference is the appearance. If you want a front door that looks like wood but doesn’t carry the same cost, there are fiberglass doors with faux wood finishes. Certain brands carry faux wrought-iron fiberglass doors. You can also create your own look by staining or painting the door yourself.
Solid wood doors are on the pricier end of the spectrum, but they have a warm, traditional look that really adds to your home’s curbside appeal. Wrought-iron exterior doors look gorgeous too. The round-top doors remind us of a hobbit house or a cathedral. This style is more costly, but it brings curb appeal and potential resale value to your home.
Exterior Doors and Energy Efficiency
When it comes to energy efficiency, the material of the door doesn’t matter as much as how closely the frame fits the top and side door jambs. Most heat escapes through the cracks around the door. Because newer doors usually fit better than their older counterparts, replacing your current door automatically helps with your energy bill.
Doors with glass are less energy-efficient than those without it. If you can’t resist that beautiful exterior door with a window, make sure it has double- or triple-pane insulating glass. Going with patio doors? Look for glass with low-emissivity coatings to reduce energy loss by as much as 30 to 50 percent. Heat-absorbing tints and reflective coatings are other tricks of the trade for retaining heat. Also keep in mind that swinging doors seal more tightly than sliding doors
Generally speaking, you should look for exterior doors that have an insulating core; usually, this is made of polyurethane. If the door doesn’t come with weatherstripping, you’ll need to add it. Installing a storm door may be worthwhile if your current door is still in good condition, as it adds a bit more insulation. Just don’t install a storm door with glass if that doorway gets lots of sunlight, otherwise it could damage the main door. And of course, you can’t go wrong with an Energy Star certified product.
Exterior Doors and Security
According to a Consumer Reports study, the material used doesn’t make a difference for break-ins that involve kicking down the door. What does make a difference is the hardware: the strike plate and deadbolt. The strike plate is the piece of metal on the door jamb with a hole for the deadbolt. To reinforce the locks, you can add a stronger strike plate and make sure the deadbolt is at least 1 inch long.
That said, certain materials are sturdier than others. An exterior door made of thick wood or wrought iron feels solid and secure. Want a steel door? Keep in mind that the gauge number indicates thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the steel.
A storm door can add more security to your home’s entrance. If you’re going for sliding doors, make sure they have reinforced glass. You can also place a wood dowel in the track to help prevent forced entry.
Durability and Ease of Care for Exterior Doors
With proper care, an exterior door should last for decades. Certain materials, however, are more weather-resistant. Fiberglass and wrought-iron doors require minimal care, and they can withstand the elements. Fiberglass, in particular, resists dents, rust, and warping. Steel doors are also weather-resistant, though they’re more prone to scratches than fiberglass doors.
Wood doors are like Hollywood stars. They’re beautiful, but they’re also high maintenance! Keep your wood door away from water; it’s prone to swelling, shrinking, and warping. Install it in a place that’s sheltered from rain. Make sure to regularly clear out any gutters overhanging the doorway. As for cleaning your exterior door, you can remove dirt with mild soap and water, but you should also check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
Something you should do for every door is check the weatherstripping every few years. You’ll need to replace it if it’s cracked, torn, brittle, or gummy. If it’s starting to fall off, you can reinstall it. Remember: The weatherstripping helps your home stay energy-efficient.
As for installation, both fiberglass and steel exterior doors are light enough to install easily. A door made of wrought iron or wood is quite heavy, however, so you may want to have a professional install it for you.
Changing your exterior door is a big decision. Will you stay safe and get something similar, or will you go for something wildly different like a bright-red front door? Do you want a more secure door for the back entrance, or are you just tired of that drafty side door? Browse our selection of exterior doors and filter by material, price, brand, and size. You’re sure to find something that suits your budget as well as your personal style.