Selecting a Front Door

Selecting a Front Door

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Exterior Renovation & Landscape Construction

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 @ 2:25pm

They say first impressions are everything, and the first thing people see, face-to-face, when they visit your home is your front door. It’s a big contributor to curb appeal, so often people might give it a bit of an upgrade, maybe an extra coat of paint, when they’re selling their home. But there’s a lot more to doors than just looks.

I work with the best window and door professional in the business, and he tells me that too often homeowners change their front door for the wrong reasons, and it usually comes down to cosmetics; a change in style, design or colour.

For example, they might want a door that’s bigger and/or wider, going from a 34-inch panel to a 36-inch or 40-inch, because it might look more modern. Or they’ll want a front door made from solid wood; add some nice beveled glass and a fancy new hardware. But very few homeowners ever ask about a door’s performance, such as better locking systems or better sealing.

And I don’t blame homeowners either. It was only recently that building code changed slightly to start requiring performance ratings on doors, so it’s going to take time for that education to filter down to homeowners and buyers.

But when it comes to performance, there are some basic things your front door must do. The obvious is help keep your house secure by keeping intruders out, so it has to be strong and durable, and it must have a solid frame – you shouldn’t be able to kick it in. It should also open and close properly. If it’s jamming or sticking, or not locking securely, you need to contact a professional.

But it’s also really important that your front door stops water from coming in, and air from leaking out.

If you’ve noticed the weatherstripping at the bottom of your front door has shrunk, or you’re getting water coming in, it’s time to replace your door. Another red flag is air leakage. If you can hear and/or feel drafts, again, it’s time for an upgrade.

Wood doors are top of the line, they look great but, like all wood, it must be properly maintained. It’s also the most expensive. And think about it, we live in Canada. We deal with a lot of temperature changes; one day it’s ten below, the next it’s plus twelve. Wood shrinks and swells, and if old wooden doors aren’t cladded and are exposed to the elements, the frame will rot away.

Storm doors can add that extra bit of protection for your door and your home. Not many people like them but I’m a fan. Overhangs also provide some protection from the elements.

Fiberglass doors usually look like they’re made from wood; they’re less expensive than going with a solid wood door, but for price your best option is a steel insulated door with a wood frame. They’re strong, durable and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

If you want to add glass it should be safety glass and it should be tempered, but glass is glass – it’s not as strong as something like wood or steel, and anytime you add glass to a door you’re losing some insulation value, so it’s best to weigh your options.

I have a smart lock from Schlage installed on my front door and on my garage door as well. I love the convenience but I love the security aspect even more. It has a built-in alarm system so there is no tampering with it. I get alerts on my phone if there is a security risk.

A front door should look good, but more importantly, it should do its job.

Good reasons to change your front door are to stop water infiltration and air leakage; upgrade to low-maintenance material that makes sense for the environment, and/or to upgrade the lock system. Anything beyond that is a bonus, and if you are willing to invest thousands of dollars in a front door, please make sure you get what you pay for

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