If you’re in the market for a new front door, you’ve probably thought about this: you want a door that meshes well with your existing aesthetic, but makes a statement. You want the appearance of the front door—the first thing guests will see—to speak to the inside of your home and the personalities of the people who live in it. There are practical concerns, too: how long does it need to last? Will it make your home more energy-efficient? Will it be able to withstand the elements of your region? There are plenty of factors to consider when you’re deciding on a new door, so here’s an easy way to narrow it down at the beginning: what kind of material works best for your home?
The Traditionalist: Wood Doors
Despite its steeper price and higher maintenance needs, wood is still a very common choice for homeowners. Newer wood doors are usually a wood core sandwiched between wood veneer, which makes them less susceptible to warping and makes the price a bit easier to stomach. (Look for a furniture-grade veneer that’s at least 1/16” thick.)
Wood is affected by moisture, sunlight, and everyday weather. If you want a wood door, it will fare better in a covered entryway or foyer. If you opt for a full wood door, have it checked every year to see if it needs refinishing. And when you’re installing it, you’ll want to get all of your hardware from the same manufacturer to ensure a good fit.
The Energy-Saver: Steel
If you’re looking into steel doors, you’ll see that there is a huge range of material and style. Also, pay attention to the gauge: the higher its number, the thinner the steel in the door. For a front door, or really any residential building, a 22-gauge steel door is probably the best choice. This is a thicker piece of steel which won’t bend easily and holds its paint very well. It can also be manufactured to resemble wood grain using a particular cut and a gel-based stain. This option will be a bit more pricey than some 24-gauge doors, but the quality is much higher and well worth a few extra bucks. Anything thicker than the 22-gauge models are typically used for security and commercial markets—where they need industrial strength rather than a durable front door.
A properly fitted steel door can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of your home. It’s worth noting, though, that steel doors typically have a shorter lifespan than do wood or fiberglass options, and it can rust or be dented. Steel isn’t the best option for a home in an area that gets a lot of harsh weather or that regularly becomes extremely hot or cold.
The Jack-of-All-Trades: Fiberglass
Fiberglass is a relatively new option for doors. It’s fairly affordable and virtually maintenance-free—and because they’re super-durable, most of their warranties cover an extensive period of time or as long as the homeowner lives in the house. Fiberglass is a really good option for areas that are prone to extreme weather. And don’t worry about keeping up appearances—fiberglass comes in a huge number of color and finish options.
As with steel, the effectiveness and long-term payoff of fiberglass depends upon initial quality. Don’t go for the super-cheap options, as they can crack easily and aren’t built to last. Choose a high quality door that won’t show damage.
In the end, you should weigh the different options—wood vs steel vs fiberglass—according to what makes the most sense for your own home. A front door you love, after all, is worth whatever price you pay. You’ll want to compare options and pricing among a few different manufacturers, then read online reviews or talk to professional installers to make sure you’ve done all your research and found the best door for your home. All the hardware that accompanies your door should come from the same manufacturer as the door itself to get the best fit. Finally, make sure you have qualified professionals installing your door. A good contractor or installation team will be able to point out potential problems or oversights to you before you experience any damage.
Gina Jennings works with Curb Appeal Roofing, a leading Oklahoma roofing, repair and remodeling company.