Entry doors are often more than just front doors – they can also be used in the back or on the side. Because the front entrance of your home commands the most attention from the street, it also commands the most attention in the marketplace. Here’s what to consider, wherever you put it.
We’ve found that most entry doors perform well overall. But the materials they’re made of – fiberglass, steel, and wood – each have strengths and weaknesses. And while a lower priced steel door can be the functional equal of a wood or a fiberglass door costing 4 times as much, it’s not the best choice for wear and tear.
Steel and fiberglass doors typically have more insulating value than wood doors. Models that are Energy Star-qualified must be independently tested and certified, and often boast tighter-fitting frames, energy-efficient cores, and, for models with glass, double- or triple-panel insulating glass to reduce heat transfer. You’ll find specific ratings on each Energy Star rated product on the NRCAN website. But you may not save as much as you think since doors are a small part of the surface area of a house and typically don’t allow significant amounts of warm air to escape as long as they are tight. Most heat is generally lost through air leaks around the door, not through the door itself.
They’re relatively inexpensive and can offer the security and weather resistance of much pricier fiberglass and wood doors. Steel doors require little maintenance–unless dents are a part of your home scenario. They’re energy-efficient, though adding glass panels cuts their insulating value. A steel door is your best bet in most cases. Steel units are stronger than wood, and they won’t crack ever. Any dents or dings on these doors can be pulled and puttied with an auto-body repair kit although the quality of the end result strongly depends on the repairman’s skill and availability. It is often cheaper to replace the whole door slab than to repair a dent. Most steel doors have an inner frame made of wood. The cavities within the frame are filled with high-density foam insulation. Premium doors typically have a 24-gauge skin and a wood frame (the lower the gauge the thicker the metal). The surface usually is smooth. Most steel doors are coated with a baked-on semi-gloss polyester finish that ages quite evenly.
A fiberglass door is the most advanced product there is for the residential homes. It combines the versatility of looks, designs and textures – woodgrain or smooth – with the minimum to no maintenance, superior durability and thermal stability among all the materials. It offers the gorgeous looks of wood at a fraction of the price of a wooden door.
Factory made doors are supplied pre-hung in the frame. The precision of dimensions and fit is the key to the door’s performance and service life. Equally important is making sure the doors are installed by the qualified technicians. Finally, check the warranty. Most manufacturers will void it if you install an aluminum storm door with the steel door. The reason: Heat buildup between the doors might cause the finish to peel.