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Front Door Choices

Published:
02/23/2016 12:00 AM
By:
David Jacknin
Front Door Choices
The solid wood front door with glass insert complements the mode
Front doors help define the style of the house and set the tone for what follows, as shown in Plan 454-14, shown at the top of this post. Doors have been traditionally made of wood but with new technologies we now have many choices including engineered wood, fiberglass, and steel. Here's what you need to know.

SOLID WOOD
Wood doors are available in hardwoods including: oak, walnut, cherry, maple and mahogany and other species. Paint Grade doors are available in softwoods such as Pine, Fir and Hemlock. They are beautiful, traditional and charming but require regular care to keep them well sealed since they expand and contract with the weather.

Pros
-- Beautiful and traditional in appearance.
-- Easy to repair chips and scratches.

Cons
-- Need to be painted or refinished every 2 years.
-- Tendency to twist and cup.
-- Least energy-efficient option compared to fiberglass and steel doors.

ENGINEERED WOOD
Engineered doors look exactly like traditional wood doors but offer superior strength and stability. Engineered wood doors are made up of multiple layers of wood assembled with adhesives covered with a thin veneer of hardwood. They are more stable than solid wood doors as each layer is designed to move in a direction opposite to that of the layer above. Engineered doors perform better with temperature changes and are a low cost alternative to solid wood doors. In addition to being more stable, many of these doors have a higher R value than solid wood doors. Doors made with split panels sandwiched over an insulating core can have an R value of R5, somewhat higher than the typical wood door with an R Value of R2. Engineered doors are a good choice for Traditional and Craftsman style homes that want natural looking wood doors.

Pros
-- More stable than traditional wood doors.
-- Much less expensive than traditional wood doors.

Cons
-- Require an overhang to protect against weather and sun.
-- Warranty invalidated without an overhang.

FIBERGLASS
Fiberglass doors are a good choice for harsh or humid climates. They expand or contract minimally as the weather changes. They are long lasting and their foam cores offer an R value up to four times higher than wood doors. Fiberglass generally falls between steel and wood in price. They can be stained to match any species of wood and are strong and durable.

Pros
-- Natural looking.
-- Durable and low maintenance.
-- Energy efficient, up to four times the R-Value of wood.
-- Secure, a strong coating that is hard to breach.
-- Well insulated.
-- Do not require an overhang.
-- Come with long warranties.
-- Can be painted or stained.

Cons
-- Harder to fix chips than wood doors.
-- Good but not the real thing.

STEEL
Steel doors are the lowest cost alternative in exterior doors. They are both strong and well insulated. These doors can be painted to work with any color scheme and hold up well for security purposes.  The downside is that they do not last that long especially in harsh weather.

Pros:
-- Least expensive option.
-- Low maintenance.
-- Well insulated

Cons
-- Shorter lifespan than other doors because of rust.
-- Conducts hot and cold with temperature extremes.

GLASS INSERTS
Many owners of new and existing homes are choosing architectural doors with glass inserts. Glass inserts are now available in a wide range of textures, colors, resins as well as in decorative stained glass. Owners of Craftsmen homes are particularly interested in glass treatments.

David Jacknin is a San Francisco Bay Area contractor.

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