entry door buying guide

How often do you think about the doors you walk through to enter and exit your home?

Odds are, you don’t think about your doors very often.

Until you need a new one.

Exterior doors — those that protect the entry points to a home — are often taken for granted, but they’re actually essential factors in your home’s energy efficiency and safety. Functionality aside, they play a significant role in your home’s overall curb appeal which can be essential to success if you’re looking to sell your home.

Unfortunately for homeowners, not all doors are built to last and when the time does come to replace your door — either because it’s old or because you’re redesigning your home — it’s important to select a door that’s going to be beautiful, durable, and affordable.

Terms You Should Know Before Buying an Entry Door

entry door terms

Before you start to narrow down your choices of the best entry doors, it’s important to know some basic entry door terms that will help you navigate through the different products on the market today. These terms will help you differentiate between the products available, as well as make sure you’re buying the right door for your specific needs. After all, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, then you might end up with the wrong product. Preparing ahead of time can save you time and money.

So, to ensure you get it right the first time, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with a few key terms.

1. Pre-hung

A complete, ready-to-install option that comes already hung in a frame and is purchased to fit in an existing doorway.

2. Slab Door

This term refers to the door itself, exclusive of all the other components. A slab can be made from steel, metal, or wood, and it will often come without hinges or holes for hardware. The slab is only as good as its supporting components. While it may be easy to focus on the appearance of the slab, it’s important not to neglect the framing, hinges, sill, and other components of a door.

3. Lite

These days, many of the best entry doors come with decorative glass — lite — inserted into their design. Whether it be a sidelite, transom or lite in the slab these inserts can decrease a door’s potential energy efficiency, although most modern doors are constructed using double- or triple-pane glass to compensate for this. Depending on where the glass is located, these types of doors may also require a different kind of lock because of the increased risk that a burglar could break the glass to enter your home.

4. Door Transom

Transoms separate doors from windows above the door and allow extra light to enter your home. The windows are generally rectangular and placed horizontally, and may be sectioned with trim. They can also be used to provide better ventilation throughout the house.

5. Divided Lite

In some doors that contain panels of glass, the glass may be divided or, in some cases, may simply have the appearance of being divided.

6. Grille

Grille is the name for the wooden, metal, or plastic details that give the appearance of divided panes in a divided lite window.

7. Brickmould

Molding installed around the door to fill any gaps that exist between the door frame and the wall of the house itself. This is most commonly found in pre-hung doors and may also be referred to as casing or trim. It can be made from a variety of different materials; however, the more durable the material, the more it will add to the cost of a pre-hung door.

8. Inswing

A term used to refer to a door that swings open toward the interior of the home.

9. Outswing

The term used to refer to a door that swings open toward the exterior of the home.

10. Left-Hand

This term refers to the placement of hinges on a door. In this case, a left-hand door refers to either an inswing door with hinges on the left or an outswing door with hinges on the right.

11. Right-Hand

Again, this refers to the placement of hinges on a door. A right-hand door has the hinges on the right if it’s an inswing door, but could also have the hinges on the left if it’s an outswing door.

Know Why You Want to Replace Your Door

know why you want to replace your door

There can be many reasons a homeowner chooses to replace their front door. But, understanding your reasons is an important part of determining what kind of door you want to replace it with.

Your reason for replacing your door will determine what kind of new door you choose. For example, if you’re looking for the most energy efficiency door on the market, then you’ll want to zero in on fiberglass options. If you’re looking for security, a 20-gauge steel door may be the best option for you. Or, if you’re looking for a door to complete a high-end home, wrought iron might be the direction to go in. Whatever your intentions, knowing what you need is going to help you quickly narrow down your options.

1. Aesthetic Upgrade

In some cases, you may simply want to improve your home’s curb appeal. Maybe you want to upgrade from a basic door to a more decorative one. You may want to nix your fiberglass door in favor of a fiberglass door made to look like a traditional wood door. Or, you may find that a slightly different style of door updates and improves the look of your home’s exterior. An aesthetic upgrade can be especially important if you’re planning to put your house on the market in the near future.

2. Improved Security

When it comes to protecting your home, a door is only as good as the lock that holds it in place. However, selecting a door that’s made of a strong material can deter unwanted visitors. For residential applications a grade-40 door is the strongest option available on the market. Out of all the options on the market today, a steel door is going to be your best option if you’re looking for a door that will protect your family from break-ins. It’s stronger than traditional wood or fiberglass options, and, on the plus side, it’s typically less expensive.

3. Energy Efficiency

One big reason a lot of people consider replacing their front door is to improve their home’s energy efficiency. And, in some cases, replacing your front door can help reduce energy loss by up to 30%. That being said, many people find that their front door only accounts for a small percentage of their home’s overall energy efficiency because of air leaks coming from cracks or crevices around the door.

If this is your reason for replacing your entry door, take some time to inspect the area around your door frame. Then, take a look around your home. Identify other potential sources of leaks and ways to make your home more energy efficient. Making some of these other improvements in conjunction with installing a new front door can make the difference you’re looking for.

4. Age

If you live in an older home, your front door may be a traditional wood door. Wood doors are known to expand in the heat and contract in the cold. This can cause problems opening and closing your door and, over time, may damage the door. If your door has seen better days and has functionality issues, then it might be time to look for something new.

5. Noise Reduction

While this isn’t one of the most common reasons to purchase a new front door, it can certainly play a role in your decision, particularly if you live in a city or in an area with a lot of noise. Certain doors can decrease the level of exterior noise that makes its way into your home, providing you with the peace and quiet you need after a long day at work.

Types of Doors and Materials You Can Choose From

types of doors and materials

When it comes time to select a new entry door, you’ll want to choose one that offers energy efficiency along with durability and safety. Selecting the best door for the job will depend on your home, your needs and, of course, your budget.

Listed below, you’ll find the five most common types of doors on the market today. Their features are listed as well. Once you have an idea of the door type you want, Homespire Windows and Doors can provide you with a price quote for your new door.

1. Fiberglass Doors

Also known as fiberglass composite doors, these doors are a great choice if you live in an especially humid area or in a region that experiences a lot of harsh weather. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, also consider that fiberglass doors:

  • Typically come with long-term warranties: These doors are made to last.
  • Can be painted or stained in a variety of colors: They also have wood-grain options that won’t fade like painted or stained wood.
  • Provide optimum energy efficiency and durability: In fact, if energy efficiency is your main goal, fiberglass doors are the best doors for the job.

2. Steel Doors

If you’re looking for a door that provides durability and security, then a steel door is your best bet. Steel doors are stronger and hold up better than their fiberglass and wood counterparts. They aren’t prone to cracks or warping, and, in the event of a dent, steel doors can be easily repaired. So, what else makes these doors so great?

  • Offers maximum energy efficiency: Important for anyone, especially those replacing their door to improve their home’s overall efficiency.
  • Comes in a variety of colors and styles: Including a wood-grain option.
  • Most bang for your buck: On average, steel entry doors cost less than doors made from other materials.

The one thing to remember with steel entry doors is that they shouldn’t be paired with an aluminum storm door. In fact, some manufacturers will void the door’s warranty if you do this, because it can cause heat to build up between the two doors and, in some cases, may result in the finish peeling off of the steel door.

3. Aluminum Doors

Aluminum doors are a cousin to steel doors, but the main difference is that each aluminum door is custom-made to the specifications of your home. Aluminum doors are a good choice because they:

  • Never need to be painted: Thanks to their enamel finish that’s baked on for long-lasting color.
  • Can be made in a variety of styles and colors: Including a wood-grain look-a-like option.

Aluminum is a popular choice for storm doors. Since aluminum storm doors are customized for each home they’re installed in, you won’t find them at a big box hardware store. You’ll want to work with a reputable storm door installation company, such as Homespire Windows and Doors, to select the right option for your home.

4. Wrought Iron

Although less common than the other options listed above, wrought iron doors are a high-end feature that can take your home’s entryway to the next level. In most cases, these doors actually use a steel base and then incorporate wood and wrought iron elements into the design. The benefits of these doors include:

  • They are durable: These doors won’t rot, splinter or warp.
  • Provide security: Wrought iron doors are more secure than their elegant wood counterparts.
  • Let in a lot of light: The design of these doors allows more natural light into your home, without compromising on security.

Wrought iron doors also come in a variety of designs, ranging from traditional, detailed work all the way to a more modern, minimalist design.

5. Wood Doors

Wood doors are known for their beauty. They make any home look classy because wood always looks beautiful. Wood doors can be stained or painted, leaving you — the homeowner — with the option to customize your front door.

A wood door could be a good choice because it is:

  • Dent-resistant and strong: It will last a long time and protect your family.
  • Heavy: These doors will stand up to the elements and stay in place.
  • Available in a range of wood types: Pine, premium hardwood, or even a wood composite are all great options available on the market today.

There are quite a few drawbacks to wood doors. They are high maintenance. Paint and stain fade over time, so wood doors need to be refinished every few years. Wood is a porous material, so they also do not provide the same energy efficiency as other materials. Also, wood doors tend to be more expensive than other options.

Choosing a New Entry Door

choosing an entry door

Choosing a new front door can be a fun and exciting undertaking. If you aren’t sure where to start — or can’t seem to narrow down your list of favorites — then let Homespire Windows and Doors help. Our team has the experience and dedication to help you find exactly the right door for your home that best fits your entry door needs.

Our products are made in the U.S., and each one is guaranteed to last. That’s why we are proud to offer our customers the most comprehensive warranty on the market. For more information about our products or to schedule a free door analysis, contact us today.