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How to choose a door?
Old 09-03-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
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How to choose a door?

I have hated our front door combo since we moved in, but never got around to doing anything about it. It leaks heat like a sieve, so I would like to replace it with an energy star door and a solid storm door that has a separate lock and decorative (but security-functional) metal bars involved. I am lead to understand that Uncle Sam will thoughtfully kick in a tax credit for 30% of the tab if I stick to energy star stuff. However, when I go to Lowe's website they offer literally hundreds of entry doors. How the heck do you pick one? What's a good choice in materials (wood, steel, fiberglass, etc.)? Any other major considerations? I assume that I can hire someone to install the new doors?

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Old 09-03-2009, 07:46 PM   #2
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One thing to think of is whether or not you could change to double doors, if you do not already. The size of the porch might limit that, and it could be expensive. So, it might not be possible or practical. It is really wonderful to have that extra space when bringing in new furniture or appliances (or removing same).

I do not like having glass panels in or next to the door, if it would make a break-in any easier.

I got steel doors for the tool area on the side of my house, and love them. They look just like wood but don't warp in the same way as wood.

If you get the lockable storm door with the metal bars, and if you have to use the key to open them when they are locked, then hang the key someplace right next to the door (inside), and hang a big piece of wood or something on the keychain so that you can find it in the smoke if there is a fire in your house. I have the New Orleans style lockable wrought iron grillwork over my door, and I close it but (shh!!) I do not really lock it because I am afraid of getting trapped in the event of a fire.

I think that having a knocker on a door is silly. Nobody uses mine. Why should they? The doorbell is right there.

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Old 09-03-2009, 09:16 PM   #3
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When I read the Subject I thought this was going to be one of those philosophical threads about life choices.

Regarding actual doors, I've had wood warp on me to the point where the door wouldn't latch anymore. And agree with no glass panels in the door if you're concerned about security.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:30 PM   #4
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Years ago we went to a place called Windoor World. I'm not sure if they have them in your area or not. We went there instead of Lowes since we felt we may have different options and better service. Anyway, we picked out a door style, had them stain it to our taste, deliver and install it. By the time they added the change out, permaseal and weather stripping, the cost nearly doubled (the door itself cost $400). But DH was working at the time and didn't want to mess with it. I don't know how difficult it would be to install a door, but it takes two people. If your city is like mine, they won't haul off doors as they deem them to be construction. So it was nice having them take the old door away.

Hopefully you can use the hardware you have on your door now to save a few bucks. The next front door I get will have a peep hole. Glass is lovely, but privacy is better. The sun coming through the glass can make a room toasty.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:41 PM   #5
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I think no matter what it depends on how well the door is made. Our place has the original oak door on the front, it is more than 100 years old and works fine and looks good. The home where I grew up has the original doors too and they are POS. Also wood.

Our prior home was modern, with a fiberglass door in the front, fake wood grain, and with a glass window, but one which would have been hard to break to open the door though not impossible. I thought it was one ugly door. It worked fine too and there was no draftiness in the winter. Probably was well made though unattractive.

You can buy doors pre-hung, with the framing and threshold included. Those are easy to put in yourself if you buy the right size and make absolutely sure it is plumb when you install it. Non-prehung doors are harder to install.

Don't know from Adam on the energy star stuff.

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Old 09-03-2009, 10:08 PM   #6
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The first decision s whether to buy only the door or to buy a pre-hung unit. Unless you are really talented in carpentry, don't even think of installing a door yourself unless it is a pre-hung unit. The pre-hung will also be cheaper and will probably have better sealing than can be readily achieved using a site-installed door.

Wood: Looks great, but there's no such thing as a low maintenance wood exterior door unless you have a very deep porch to keep both the rain and the sun off of it. I don't know if any wood doors are Energy Star rated--they'd have to have foam sandwiched inside to be as efficient as fiberglass or steel doors.
Fiberglass: Pricier than metal, cheaper than wood. They do look like wood. Good energy efficiency.
Steel: Energy efficiency about the same as fiberglass. They resist forcible entry well if they have beefy wood framing internally (the edges, and esp at the lockset.) Least expensive option.

Much of the choice depends on your house style--some houses don't look right with a wood or faux-wood door--in which case, a metal door is an easy choice. If I'm going to paint it anyway, I'd go with a metal door.

Are you sure you need a storm door? The new doors seal very well, and so the energy payoff from a storm door is not that great. In addition, if the sun shines on the door, the heat buildup between the door and storm door can wreak havoc on a wood door. A door with bars does make sense if you are worried about security.

The tax rebate--just because a door qualifies for the Energy Star rating does not mean it will qualify for the federal giveaway. The standards are slightly different, so be sure to read the paperwork closely.
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Old 09-04-2009, 05:42 AM   #7
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The house I grew up in had a solid wood door that lasted more than 30 years, with storm door the last 20. My current house has a metal door with a 2 pane single large glass panel. I don't like it because I believe the seal is broken between the panes and it fogs up a little sometimes. But I've only had to paint it twice in 15 years.

Your house style should influence your choice of front door. If you have wood siding, you may want a wood door. If you have anything else, metal or fiberglass would look good.

Many of today's doors are good enough that a storm door isn't necessary. Here's a couple manufacturers.

PeaseDoors home

Peachtree Windows and Doors

A total door and frame replacement could be difficult, depending on trim/siding/drywall/framing that needs to be changed. Any good carpenter should be able to replace the door easily in a day.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:06 AM   #8
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For us doors come under the heading of decorations. Anything that can remotely be construed as having visual impact gets in under the wire.

Therefore, I give DW measurements, handedness ex: Right hand reverse. Installations are on me.

Off she goes. Makes life real easy.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:54 AM   #9
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We have a custom wood door with lots of glass. Security is not an issue in our area so didn't give the glass a moment's thought. It is tempered glass, breaking it would be VERY difficult.

A door is both a security and decorative item. I have mixed feelings about fake wood textures on doors (and siding for that matter). If you go that route subtlety is the key. The design should fit you home's style. If you are going to paint the door and can find a beautiful steel one - it will likely be the last time you need to replace that door. Take care, your entry shouldn't look like Fort Knox even if the effect is the same.

Pay attention to hardware too, that is at least as important from a security standpoint as the door itself. Do not cut corners.

I would have it professionally installed, ideally engaged by the door/hardware supplier. My over-educated carpenter can watch the install, but not do it IMHO. The reason is that if the installer screws up and damages the door the replacement is on them.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:25 AM   #10
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A few notes of caution. We did this 2 years ago, and went with composite door (commonly referred to as a fiberglass door). There was a huge range of prices for what appeared to be the same door (energy and appearance wise), so of course went with the cheaper door. Big mistake. They claim that these things stain like wood, but don't believe them. Tried to stain parts of it and the stain would just peel off - never did get it to stick. Mfg'er replaced it, had a rep out to the house to "show us how to do it", etc. Never did get it right. Since we had it installed by Lowe's and went round and round with them and the manufacturer, Lowe's finally said they would step up to the plate, take the door out and replace it with whatever door we wanted - regardless of price. Went with a pre-stained fiberglass door that looks very nice and is very airtight.
The general warning I would have about fiberglass is that the mfg'ers claim they are maintanence free - and they are NOT. The recommendations are to re-coat with PU every 2 years, re-stain as needed. Seems about the same as a wood door - but the fiberglass won't warp/split/crack if you ignore it. We didn't like the look of steel, but with the fiberglass, it's very hard to tell it isn't wood from more than 2 feet way.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:47 AM   #11
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When I changed doors 6 years ago, the installer told me that steel doors--which I purchased--said steel was the "safest" door type of all. Glad to see so many here went with steel, too.

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