If you're planning a few changes to help enhance your home's curb appeal, chances are you've considered modifying or replacing your front entry doors. The front door is the first thing that visitors see, and constitutes the equivalent of a welcoming smile. A dented, scratched or discolored door can create an impression of neglect or apathy. Style plays a part too. Home improvement retailers don't just call them doors anymore, they're door systems, and can be very elaborate, with price tags to match.
You may not need to completely rework the front of your home to freshen up your entry, but understanding a bit about front entry doors will help you recognize what you should be looking for from a security and maintenance standpoint.
Entry Door Materials and Basic Features
Two major concerns when evaluating front doors are security and weather resistance. At the very least, you want a door that will be safe from both unwanted intruders and environmental extremes.
Front doors come in three basic materials: wood, steel and fiberglass. All can be made secure and relatively weather resistant, but price and aesthetics vary quite a bit.
- Wood - Wood doors are the high-end choice, and wood is usually the most expensive option for front entry doors. Wood is natural looking and dent resistant, but it requires consistent maintenance. Wood scratches easily, and wood finishes can fade over time. In weather extremes, wood doors can warp too.
- Fiberglass - Low maintenance and dent resistant, fiberglass doors can mimic wood without the hassle involved in maintaining wood in an indoor-outdoor environment. Fiberglass is a moderately priced solution that is also energy efficient.
- Steel - Steel is a low maintenance material that can withstand weather extremes. Steel doors can also be a low cost option that is energy efficient. Steel doors dent easily, though, and can start to show wear after a few years. If scratched or abraded, they will also rust if not maintained.
Additional Door Features
Once you've settled on a material, consider some of the additional features available in front door design:
- Glass panels
Tips About Choosing a Front Entry Door
When shopping for a front entry door, keep these things in mind:
- The more elaborate a door is, the more expensive it will be to purchase and probably install. The addition of glass panels or sidelights will also reduce the fuel efficiency of the door or entry, making it more expensive to maintain.
- If you select wood as your door material of choice, you will have to perform periodic maintenance, like painting or staining, to keep the door protected and looking good.
- From a security standpoint, glass panels can be a problem. If you're determined to have glass in your door, keep it as far away from the locking mechanism as possible.
- Look for a door with an adjustable threshold to keep out drafts and rain. This will help keep your entry weather-ready for the foreseeable future.
- Buy a door with a deadbolt that has a one-inch minimum horizontal bolt, or upgrade the deadbolt.
- If cost is a factor, plan on replacing your entry door with a door that's the same size. If you go with a wider or taller door, you'll have to modify the door framing, which is a much larger job than a simple change out.
Consider a Front Entry Door an Investment
The right front entry door can enhance your home's exterior design, increase its value, and ensure your family's protection. Although you'll certainly need to stay within whatever budget you set, this is one area where you don't want to skimp. Choose the very best door you can afford, and count it as an investment that will pay for itself in years to come.