How to Choose a Front Door

Make a Great First Impression

Choosing the right front door is important to the strength, security, and style of your entire home. It’s the first and most prominent impression visitors receive before they come inside, and the entranceway tells them something about your home and your family.

Choosing the Right Front Door
Your front entry door has to be resistant to wind, rain, and sun, and protect you from potential intruders, and still make a great impression. Older doors are primarily made of wood or veneer, which can eventually warp, crack, and delaminate. Even metal doors can weather and peel.

There are many options available in today’s materials and construction, including those with glass panels, decorative features, and all the strength and security you need. Today’s best materials include metal and fiberglass, and can cost less than older models did.

Out With the Old
Sometimes replacing a door involves simply installing the new door into the opening left by removing the old door. If not, choosing a new door may involve evaluating the amount of work required if the new door will require construction work (reframing the opening). If you’re not sure, check with your contractor, or we can help: take measurements and photos and bring them to the store.

Framing the Problem
Most new doors are considered “pre-hung”, which means the door is already mounted on hinges in a new frame. This can be ideal if your old frame is rotted or otherwise damaged, or you want to expand the opening. If you’re simply planning to work within the existing frame and replace only the door itself, measure carefully and let us know. We’ll give you options for replacements.

Once you have the practical details down (framing, size, etc.), your preferences come into play. Your choices for level of security, style, windows, and more will help determine the material from which your door is made, the style of the door panels and full entryway, and options for items like windows and storm doors.

Solid Choices
Most doors are made of one predominant material, with other materials potentially used in the frames, interiors, and sidelights (e.g. a steel door may have a wood frame). The primary material—the visible surface of the door—will make the biggest difference in appearance, security, durability, and price.

Wood doors are traditionally the most common, and they give you a wide range of styles and types. A wood door can be beautiful, with a natural finish, strong if made from solid, harder wood, and stylish. Common woods include oak, cherry, walnut, mahogany, maple, fir, hemlock, and pine.

While traditional doors were primarily solid wood, today most are sandwiched wood veneer over an engineered wood core. The advantage is less warping from expanding and contracting wood, and generally lower cost than solid wood. They can be stained or painted, and allow for more detailed carvings and moldings. Ask about the many options available.

Steel doors are generally more secure and durable, and give you more options for decorative glass accents. Most dents or minor damage can be repaired easily. Steel doors also cost less, depending on options like sidelights and hardware. Steel doors normally have an inner wood or steel frame, depending on the grade. The cavities can be filled with insulation, and are available with a baked-on polyester finish.

Fiberglass-Composite doors are very durable and virtually maintenance-free, a good option for environments that are more extreme or humid. They can be styled with a wood-grain look, and even be stained. Generally they contain wooden framing, into which insulation is injected, and they are surprisingly affordable.  

Stylish Entrance
Once you’ve settled on a material—normally trading off the durability, finish, and security with cost—you’ll have a wide range of style options. Panels, accents, colors, textures and more are all options.

Windows, whether they’re integral to the door or only in the sidelights, give you more light, better visibility from both sides of your doorway, and a more welcoming look to your home. They can also give your entranceway the beauty and elegance of a higher-end home. The compromise: they make your entry less secure, and less well-insulated. Though panes with thicker glass, lead, or brass caning will cost more and can reduce these compromises, you’ll have to make a decision on if (and how much) glass works for you.

Once you choose your door, you have great options for hardware, locksets, and finishes.

The Right Front Door
Choosing the right front door will mean smoother operation, lower maintenance, and savings on your energy bills. You’ll also have a beautiful entryway—for a great first impression—for many years to come.

Ready to start your new door project? Check out our Door Department page, look through our door and window showroom for inspiration, then ask our staff for more information.

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