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How to Pick the Perfect New Doors


Doors must always strike a balance between form and function. A front door must be tough enough to stand up against weather, rough use, and intruders, but beautiful enough to grace the entrance to your home. So it’s not surprising that picking the perfect new doors can feel daunting. With hundreds or even thousands of options, the possibilities can be overwhelming. However, if you follow a process to help you make your decision, you can pick the perfect new doors without driving yourself mad.

Choosing a New Front Door

Your front door is the main entryway into your home. It needs to be secure enough to protect your home and your family. But it is also a primary part of your home’s facade, and its design needs to complement your personal style. Finally, cost is always a factor. Front entryway doors can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars for intricate or custom designs. Here’s what you need to know to choose a new front door.

How Will You Install the Door

When most people think about replacing a door, they imagine taking the old door off the hinges and putting a new one in its place. And if you were considering new interior doors, that is mostly how they work. But that sort of replacement is rare for front entryway doors. To replace just the door, you would need to find a new door that fits perfectly in the frame of your old door, but sizes for front doors are not quite as standardized as they are for interior doors. And even if you bought the same sized door, exterior door frames are prone to settling, shifting, and warping over years of exposure to the elements. So a new door that is not similarly warped might not fit properly, even if it was the same size. Finally, front door styles vary greatly, and the new door you are purchasing may not fit in with the sort of frame you had for the old door.

To solve this problem, many front entryway doors now come prehung, which means they come already installed in a frame. So instead of putting a new door in an old frame, you have to remove the entire frame and insert the new one. In many cases, you may have to widen the doorway to make room for the new frame and door.

Deciding whether you want to replace just the panel (i.e., the door) or the entire door, including the frame, is the first decision you have to make. If you choose to replace just the panel, your choices for a new door will be limited.

How to Pick the Perfect New Doors [infographic]

Select a Material

It may be tempting to jump right into selecting a style of door. With hundreds of options, it’s easy to get carried away picking the coolest design for your home. But before you get to that, you need to decide what material you want for your door. Once you know that, you can narrow down your search and determine which styles are available in the material of your choice and how much each one costs.

Wood Doors

For a long time, wood was the standard for all front doors. Today, however, choices like steel and fiberglass have expanded the options. A wood door provides a classic look and can come in many natural finishes such as oak, cherry, walnut, mahogany, maple, fir, and pine. Most doors that are meant to be painted are made of softer woods like pine or western hemlock.

A wood door has a nice heft that many homeowners desire in an entryway door. However, the weighty feel of a wood door does not necessarily translate into high security. A solid wood door is very hard to break down. But solid wood is not common, and it is very expensive. Solid wood also has a tendency to swell or warp as the door is exposed to moisture and changes in temperature.

Most wood doors are made of engineered wood sandwiched between two sheets of wood veneer. The engineered wood solves one of the main problems of solid wood: warping. Engineered wood is made of many thin layers glued together. Each layer is placed perpendicular to the one beneath, minimizing warping, expansion, and contraction due to weather and moisture.

Unlike other materials, wood doors are usually not insulated.

Steel Doors

Steel doors are an excellent choice when strength and durability are primary concerns. Steel is the toughest door to break down, and dents can be easily repaired with an auto-body repair kid. Steel doors are also potentially the most cost-effective choice, with some basic doors starting as low as $150 for just a door without hardware or glazing. However, more premium doors and prehung doors can carry prices more similar to other doors. Since hardware and other components cost the same regardless of the door material, adding premium hardware can benign to erase the savings of a steel door. Still, its strength makes it a favorite for security-driven homeowners.

Steel doors are available in many styles, including styles that mimic wood. Some steel doors have embossed wood grain. More expensive doors have stainable wood fiber finishing. And some premium steel doors may even have a wood veneer for a real wood look. But unlike a wood door, steel will never warp. The space inside the door is filled with high-density insulating foam, making steel doors an excellent choice for energy efficiency.

Fiberglass Doors

Fiberglass is the new kid on the block in the entryway door market. It is incredibly durable, can look just like wood, and can even be stained like wood. Some fiberglass door manufacturers actually warranty their doors for as long as you own your home. Fiberglass is tough and durable, though not as secure as steel. A fiberglass door usually has a wood frame inside, and the remaining spaces are filled with high-density insulating foam. The insulation makes fiberglass doors fantastic for energy efficiency. They are also perfect for humid or moist conditions because they won’t rust or warp.

Select a Design

Once you know what material you want, you can start the fun part of looking at the design. Designs vary all over the place, from traditional panel doors to sleek modern looks and everything in between.

When looking at designs, you’ll notice that many doors offer glass as part of the design. This can create a high-end look and is an attractive feature. But be sure that you get tempered glass that is harder to break. If you are concerned about security, get a door with glass that is well above the handle so that if someone breaks through the glass, they still can’t reach the handle.

If you want more natural light, many doors come with sidelights, tall windows on either side of the door. Sidelights can drive up the overall cost of a new door system, but they are a highly desirable design feature.

In addition to the main door, some doors include a storm door or security door. A storm door can help protect your door from harsh weather, making it last longer than it would otherwise. Security doors are used when security is a high priority, and they can make it harder for someone to penetrate your entryway.

Picking the Right Installers

If you’re ready for a new door but not prepared to do it all yourself, check out these TrustDALE certified doors specialists. They can help you select and install the perfect new doors for your home. And every member company of the TrustDALE Circle of Trust is backed by Dales trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.