Many of us pay little attention to our front doors. You may walk through your front door multiple times a day, but how often do you really stop to look at it? Of course, if your door is showing its age, you may be drawn to its flaws and defects. But even if there is nothing visibly wrong with your front door, there are many benefits of a new front door. From security to insulation to aesthetics, a new front door is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your home.
Types of Doors
Once upon a time, almost all doors were made of wood. If you have an older home and have not replaced the front door, there is a good chance that you have a solid wood door. Solid wood is traditional and beautiful, but new materials offer choices and some advantages. If you’re considering replacing your front door, you need to know the differences between the three common door materials: steel, fiberglass, and wood.
Simple steel doors can be some of the most cost-effective doors out there. While fancier steel doors can escalate in price, a basic steel door can be had for under $200. (That is, without the lockset, hardware, paint, and labor.) Steel doors are also some of the hardest doors to break down, offering added security. However, depending on the door, fiberglass and wood doors can be nearly as strong.
One unusual fact about steel doors is that, counterintuitively, they are not the toughest in terms of durability. Steel doors are not recommended in areas with salty air, such as near an ocean beach. Heavy rains and salty air can corrode a steel door. Consumer Reports found that many steel doors last no longer than 5 to 7 years. However, if your front door is in a relatively protected spot—for example, if you have a covered porch—a steel door can last much longer.
Another surprising disadvantage of steel doors is that, with heavy enough use, they can be dented. Dents are notoriously hard to repair, unlike scratches in a wood door. If you have children who will be banging around your door, or if you often bring large, heavy items in and out of your front door, consider skipping a steel door. However, if you plan to treat your door gently, steel can provide a good balance of price, strength, and durability.
Fiberglass doors are a relative newcomer to the world of front doors. Fiberglass is the lightest door material, which can be a benefit or problem depending on your personal preference. A fiberglass door is easy to open and close, but may not have the weighty, substantial feel of solid wood. However, don’t let that lightness fool you. Fiberglass is extremely tough and very hard for an intruder to break through.
One benefit of fiberglass doors is the price. Fiberglass doors are usually a little more expensive than steel, but still much cheaper than solid wood. And with the right fiberglass door, you might think you are looking at solid wood. Modern fiberglass doors can mimic the look of wood very accurately, so you aren’t compromising on appearances or curb appeal.
Fiberglass doors are also exceptionally durable and require very little maintenance. Fiberglass doesn’t expand or contract very much as the temperature changes, so there is little chance of warping. A fiberglass door that is not directly exposed to the elements can last 15 to 20 years and rarely needs a paint touch-up.
Wood is the most traditional front door material. It is also the most expensive. Solid wood doors can start around $1,000, and that price only increases with fancier styles or custom details. A solid wood door is heavy, a trait many homeowners enjoy. However, despite its high price, wood is not the most durable material for a front door. A wood door should be repainted or stained every couple of years to protect the material and avoid peeling and discoloration. However, unlike metal and fiberglass, scratches and dents in a wood door can be repaired relatively easily.
Your front door is the primary entrance to your home, and also the most likely way an intruder will enter your home. Popular culture is filled with images of sneaky burglars climbing in through a window in the middle of the night. But the most common way thieves enter a home is actually through a front door in the middle of the day, when people are at work and homes are empty. In most cases, burglars don’t bother breaking down a door. Instead, they focus on the lock. If a thief can destroy a lock system, they can get into your home without smashing anything.
The most cost-effective way to improve the security of your front door is to add a heavy-duty deadbolt. Even if your door already has a deadbolt, it was probably not built with the highest quality deadbolt. Luckily, deadbolts—even high-end, heavy-duty deadbolts—are relatively inexpensive. If you are not sure how to install the deadbolt yourself, a locksmith can help you determine what type of deadbolt is best for your door and then install it.
Most doors have a latch bolt (and sometimes the deadbolt, too) that is secured inside a strick plate. The strike plate is the flat piece of metal that sits on your doorpost opposite the doorknob, where the door latches. Most doors, including front doors, have a flat strike plate held in with two screws. However, a strike plate is relatively easy to rip out of the door.
Replacing a strike plate with a strike box can be a considerable security upgrade. A strike box includes a plate in front, but instead of the plate resting on the wooden doorpost, the plate is one side of a metal box that is set into the door stud. The box is then attached to the stud with three-inch screws. This type of construction provides higher security because it is much harder, if not impossible, to rip out of the doorpost.
Many doors, including front doors, have door knobs or handles fastened directly into the door. However, that opens up the possibility for intruders to break into the door around the edges of the doorknob. To improve security, you can install a reinforcer plate, basically a larger metal plate that rests on your door and covers the area beneath your handle and deadbolt. A reinforcer plate makes it much harder to break through your handles and locks.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to avoid unwanted visitors is to identify them before you open the door. A peephole is a vital safety tool that allows residents to see who is at the door before they decide whether to open up. But traditional peepholes have a narrow field of vision, allowing someone to hide just to the side of the door. Replacing your old peephole with a wide-angle peephole gives you a better view to decide if it’s safe to open the door.
If you are not the first person to live in your home, it is a good idea to rekey the locks. There is really no way to guarantee that no previous residents held onto a key, either intentionally or as an oversight. To protect your privacy and your safety, it is highly recommended that you rekey the locks on your new home. Rekeying is simple and inexpensive. You can hire a locksmith to do it, or if you’re feeling handy, you can buy a rekeying kit at a local hardware store and do it yourself.
Insulation and Energy Efficiency
One advantage of a new door is improved insulation and energy efficiency. Older doors often have leaks where air can get in and out. Leaks are common around the edges of a door. They may also appear around the handles or any glass in the door. If you have any concerns about your ability to hang a door, hire professionals to do it for you. Professional installation is the best way to avoid air leaks or tiny cracks. Many new doors include built-in weather stripping for an even better seal.
In addition to sealing the door, steel and fiberglass doors typically have a core made of insulation material that keeps heat and cold from getting through your door. Some wood doors can also be energy efficient. The best way to tell if a door is going to provide better insulation is to look for an Energy Star certification.
There are plenty of ways to improve the curb appeal of your home. You could paint, install new siding, or upgrade your landscaping. But one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home look better is to install a new front door. It’s a relatively simple change, but it can make a huge difference in how your home looks as you approach it. Make sure to pick a door that matches the style of your home. For an exciting fresh look, you can try a bright door color that complements your siding and trim. For a more reserved look, try muted colors in the same color group as the other parts of your home.
If you are ready to install your new front door, try one of these TrustDALE certified door installation companies. When you choose TrustDALE, you know that you are getting the best value, the best customer service, and the best warranties, including Dale’s $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.