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Mike Holmes’ Tips for a Strong and Secure Front Door
By Mike Holmes
Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance
Monday, June 15th, 2020 @ 2:16pm
Your front door is a statement piece. Think about it: when someone comes to your home, they knock on the front door, and they stand there and wait for you to answer. Odds are, they spend a lot more time looking at your front door than they do the rest of the yard.
I could go on and on about front doors, but here are some of the frequently asked questions I get about front doors.
What is the size of a standard front door?
By code, entry doors have to be at least 81cm wide and 198 cm tall. Now is that enough? To me, it’s not.
I like front doors to be at least 91cm wide. An extra 10 cm might not seem like much, but it actually makes a big difference.
I’m thinking about parents like my daughter, Sherry, who have to navigate a stroller in and out of her house. A wider door makes that a much simpler process.
I’m thinking about older folks who are maneuvering their homes with a wheelchair or walker. A wider door gives them the necessary width to fit through easily and comfortably. This is a key component of aging in place in your home.
I like a bigger door but beware: if you have plans to expand the width of your door, you’ll be cutting into the structure of your home.
Which way should my front door open?
You’ll notice that most front doors open inward into the home. There are a few reasons why this is.
With the swing oriented to move into the home, that means the hinges will be on the inside of the doorway, rather than the exit. This helps protect the home against intruders by eliminating the ability to pull the door right off its hinges to gain access.
Opening the door inward helps protect it against any errant wind or water damage that could strike it. In cases of extreme snow, you may not even be able to open the door outward if there’s been a big pile up.
What materials are most commonly used for a front door?
One popular variety of front door material is wood. Wood doors are strong and durable but will require a bit of maintenance. One thing to be aware of is that wood expands and shrinks with the weather. Your wooden door must be properly cladded to ensure that the door frame doesn’t rot away from exposure to the elements.
You may also see fiberglass doors on the market. They often have the look of wood, without the price tag. Either material could serve you well, just ensure the door is also fire rated for safety.
Do I need a screen or a storm door?
Not every home will need a storm door to protect the main entry door, but it does bring a few benefits.
The big bonus to a screen door is the extra ventilation it can provide. You can open the main door and allow air to flow through the screen, providing so much needed fresh air cycling into the home. They can also bring in some extra light to the home.
When do you not need a screen door? They help protect the door against the elements, so if your front porch has an overhang or covered area, you likely won’t need one for that purpose.
How do I maintain my front door?
Your front door is pretty tough, but you’ll have to give it a little TLC to make sure it’s working as it should.
Check the weather stripping around the door twice per year. Once in the spring, and again in the fall. When it’s broken or missing, you’re allowing unwanted drafts to creep into your home. This can severely affect your home’s energy efficiency, so if you feel a gap in your weatherstripping, replace it immediately.
Once a year, you’ll want to give your door a good clean with some light soap and warm water. Scrape away any flaking paint, and give any scuffs a good rub down with some sandpaper. You’ll likely want to repaint your front door every few years, but the schedule on that will vary depending on how hard your door gets hit by the elements.
Every spring, do a check of the door hardware, you want to make sure it’s still secure in the door.
If you’re changing the lock itself – consider using a smart deadbolt like the Schlage Encode from Schlage Canada.
What are the best measures to secure my front door?
Every front door needs a few things to keep it safe and secure. I like a multi-lock system with a good deadbolt and extra security both above and below the bolt. Your door should also have a strike plate (a metal plate that affixes to the doorjamb) to help make it more secure against break-ins.
I’m a huge advocate for smart locks. They allow you to give other people access to your home on a temporary basis without having to pass around any extra keys. Once their task is complete, you can take away their front door access. I hear from a lot of homeowners who are concerned about hackers, but a properly installed smart lock is totally safe and secure.
How do I paint my exterior door?
When is the best time to paint your front door? You need to pick sometime with clear, consistent, and warm weather to allow the paint to dry quickly and evenly. Typically, the best time of year would be in the late spring or early summer before it gets too hot, but you’ve passed the rainy season.
Over time, as the paint begins to chip, you may need to give the door the occasional touch-up. You can do this when you’re doing you’re yearly cleaning of the door.
If you’re ready for a change and want to give the door a new look with a bright, bold colour (I’m a fan of red, personally), you have the option to cover it with a new coat of paint.
To paint a standard front door, you’ll probably need at least a litre of paint to do the job well. You can take the door right off the hinges to paint. Prime the door first, then add your new colour. Add more coats as necessary to get the look you need.
You can use a paintbrush, roller, or paint gun to add your new colour. A paintbrush can give the door a hand-painted look if that’s what you’re after. Allow the door to dry completely before you reattach it to its hinges.