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Selecting a Front Door | A Guide
By Mike Holmes
Thursday, December 9th, 2021 @ 1:25pm
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. You need to consider the climate in your area, the material for the entry door, the style and the size. How do you go about selecting a front door?
How To Choose The Right Entry Door
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.
Exterior Door Buying Guide
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.
A new exterior door can help boost curb appeal.
Should I Replace My Front Door?
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.
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.
What is The Best Material For A Door?
Don’t lose sight of the single most important decision: the material your door will be made of. There are a lot of factors that affect a door’s appearance. You also need to consider durability, security, and price. But you know what matters the most? The material a door is made of is very important.
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. 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. Wood doors can be problematic, mainly because the material is naturally porous.
If you do decide to go with a wood door, you may need to sand, stain, or repaint it every few years. You can choose a design with glass insert to make it look more appealing.
Steel doors are a more durable option than wood doors. That makes them a great material for areas that see glaring sun or heavy rainfall. With steel doors you don’t have to worry about difficult opening or closing at certain times during the year, because they don’t expand or contract.
Steel doors are also a more secure option.
Storm Doors or Screen Doors
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.
Screen doors are both stylish and functional. They are also very effective at bringing in natural light and ventilation.
Storm doors help protect the front door against Mother Nature. However, if your front porch has an overhang or covered area, you may not need a storm door for that purpose.
Fiberglass doors usually look like they’re made from wood. They’re less expensive than going with a solid wood door. Fiberglass doors are fast becoming the most popular. Unlike steel doors, fiberglass isn’t prone to rust.
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.
How Do You choose Your Front Door Lock?
Look for hardware that has been tested against the highest industry standards. BHMA is a group of industry experts that grades residential door hardware performance. A grade of ‘C’ is good, ‘B’ is better and ‘A’ is best.
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.
What is the Best Color For A House Door?
You can make a great first impression with your exterior door. Choose the right color and you can really set the tone for your home and increase curb appeal. The popular choices for entry door colors are black, grey and blue. However, if you have seen any of my shows, you know I LOVE a bright front door.
Maintenance For Your Front Door
I want you to check the weather stripping around the door twice per year. Spring and the fall season is a good time for this. If you find broken weather stripping, you are asking for drafts to come in to your house. That’s not good for your home’s energy efficiency. If you feel a gap in your weatherstripping, replace it immediately.
Once a year, give your door a good cleaning. Just some light soap and warm water.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How to know you are choosing a quality door lock?
BHMA is a group of industry experts who grade residential door hardware performance in the categories of Security, Durability and Finish. A grade of ‘C’ is good, ‘B’ is better, and ‘A’ is best. A grade of AAA means the best grade possible in all three categories.
The BHMA grading system lets you decide what’s important to you- Security, Durability or Finish. You can then choose the handle set and knob that gets the highest rating in each category.
We install the Schlage locks on our projects. Here’s why. All of Schlage’s mechanical knobs are graded Best in Security, Durability and Finish (AAA).
What type of front door is the best?
Front doors come in a variety of materials. If you are looking for a durable material, a steel door is the best option for you. Generally, steel doors will be cheaper for you as well.