Best Entry Doors: What To Know
The best entry doors are ones that don’t just improve your home’s aesthetics but also increase its value, marketability and energy efficiency, too.
But honing in on those doors – the perfect ones for safeguarding your investment, your family, and your curb appeal – is harder than it looks. After all, there are millions of doors to choose from. How do you find the right brand or settle on a material? How can you choose the proper color and style?
This guide breaks it down. From the technical specs you need to get started down to the best entry doors for energy efficiency, we walk you through it all step by step.
Getting Started With Your New Entry Door
Your front door can make or break your home. It influences your property value, the home’s overall aesthetic, its energy efficiency and cooling power, and, of course, its marketability when it comes time to sell.
Needless to say, it’s pretty important. So picking out that door and buying it? That needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully.
Before heading to the store to browse and buy a potential new entry door, you will want to do a few things:
- Determine if you need a left- or right-hand door. Stand in the doorway facing the front yard. Is the lock on the right or left? If the lock is on the left side, you have a left-hand door, and vice versa if the lock is on the right side.
- Measure the door jamb. Use a tape measure to get the height and width of your door jamb, from one inside edge to the other. Add about a half-inch to both measurements, and jot them to bring to the store or your contractor.
- Look for any damage. If there’s damage to the frame or jamb, you may need to replace more than just the door itself. See if there are any signs of wood rotting, splitting or bowing, and be sure to check that your existing door opens and closes easily. If it doesn’t, your frame is likely off and will need to be fixed before a new door can be put in. You will also want to check the weather stripping to be sure it’s in good condition.
A quick protip before getting started:
You should also be careful to check with both your city and your homeowner’s association (if you have one) before you get too far into the projects. Cities often require permits for work done on front doors, and your HOA may have rules regarding color, style, and other details. Violating either of these regulations could result in serious fines – so be proactive in your approach.
The Best Entry Door Materials
When it comes to front door materials, the options are endless – and each choice comes with different pros, cons and looks.
Most popular door materials:
Wood is the most common material when it comes to entry doors, likely due to their versatility. You can choose from all sorts of stains, wood types and grains, and each one offers a unique look and feel. Popular choices are oak, mahogany, walnut and fir. Wood doors can also be painted or, to save money, combined with a veneer coating to lower the cost.
All in all, wood doors are:
- High quality
Some drawbacks of wood doors are:
- Can rot or warp
- High maintenance
- Expensive (for solid wood models)
- Best in a protected or shaded area
- May need re-staining or touch-up paint
For security-concerned homeowners, steel entry doors are your best bet. Steel doors are strong, durable and resistant to damage and warping. You can fix any dents or dings just like you would your car hood!
Some advantages to steel front doors include:
- Low cost
- Damage resistant
- Low maintenance
Here are a few cons of steel doors:
- Easily dented (though the dents can be fixed)
- Vulnerable to rusting and corrosion
- Hot when placed in direct sunlight
- May peel in heat
Fiberglass front doors give you the look of wood with less maintenance and more durability. They are great for places with harsh weather or lots of humidity, and they can be textured and stained to look just like real wood – without the risk of warped or rotting.
Fiberglass doors offer these pros:
- Weather resistant
- Low maintenance
- Energy efficient
Fiberglass doors come with these drawbacks:
- Prone to breakage in extreme cold
- Might need period re-sealing
Aluminum entry doors are a little different than other options because they have to be custom-built for every opening. They have a thick insulated cover coated with an aluminum outer skin and a baked-on enamel finish. That means no touch-up painting necessary and no rusting – ever.
Benefits of aluminum doors include:
- Fully customizable
- Long lasting
Disadvantages of aluminum front doors include:
- Slightly expensive
- Vulnerable to denting
Customizing Your Door
Material is only part of the equation when choosing a door. Regardless of whether you opt for a wood, fiberglass, steel or aluminum one, you can always make edits to customize and personalize your entry door to fit your home and needs best.
Generally, you can customize your new front door’s:
- Window and glass panes
- Paint colors
- Protective coatings
You may also opt to add an artistic element, like stained glass, a brass kick plate or a decorative storm door. These can all enhance the curb appeal of your home, while also adding privacy and security as well.
Choosing an Energy Efficient Front Door
Different types of doors have different levels of energy efficiency, too. That means some come with higher utility bills, make your home harder to cool and increase your environmental footprint. Others, conversely, can cool your home more quickly, lower your energy bills and reduce your impact on the world at large. A more energy efficient door can also improve your home’s marketability to potential buyers when you are ready to sell.
The best doors for energy efficiency have:
- A high R-Value, which measures the door’s thermal resistance
- Certification from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)
- ENERGY STAR qualifications
- A U-factor
- A solar heat gain coefficient
- An E glazing system
- A tight fit in your door frame
- Lots of insulation
Fiberglass doors offer the best insulation of all entry door materials, so they are significantly more energy efficient than other options on the market. Highly energy efficient doors should also:
- Block out wind and light, as this indicates a snug fit
- Have well-maintained weather stripping
- Have a tight door sill and sweep
- Remain steady in temperature, despite outside weather conditions
- Open and close easily, even on hot, rainy or humid days
The number of windows and glass panes on a door can also impact its energy efficiency, as well as the type of insulation in its core.
A tip from our door contractors:
If energy bill savings and a lower environmental footprint weren’t enough impetus to install an energy efficient door, various tax incentive and credits should be. Some credits will even pay for a portion of your replacement door, so the project basically pays for itself – and then some.
Don’t Forget the Hardware
The hardware you choose will also influence the overall look and security of your new entry door. From knobs and handles to locks, kick plates and lock plates, there are dozens of different hardware options you can choose from. You can even install address numbers of your door for added effect.
Generally, you can opt for hardware like:
- Painted enamel
- Brushed satin
You should also consider the number of locks, the types of locks and the types of handles you’d like on your door. These will all impact the level of security the door offers you, as well as how well it will prevent potential break-ins.
Consult a Professional
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right front door – and installing it. For this reason, most homeowners are best served by calling in a professional contractor for the job. Though you can certainly DIY a new front door installation, using a pro can allow you to:
- Get expert advice on door styles, types, and energy efficiency levels
- Have someone to manage the permitting process if your city requires it
- Ensure your door is installed safely, securely and snugly
- Prevent any issue from delaying or derailing your project
Professional door contractors may also have access to unique product selections, and they may be able to help you better customize your chosen door to your exact aesthetic and tastes. If you decide to use a pro for your new entry door installation, always look at their portfolio before moving forward, and ask for a consultation first before signing a contract.
Look at More than Just the Price Tag
It’s important to remember that your door is a long-term investment. It can impact both your energy bills and the returns you get on your home down the line, so try to pay attention to more than just a door’s price tag. Energy efficiency, style, security, and durability should all play an important role in the door you choose, in addition to your overall budget.
Critical things to consider before buying:
- How long you will be in the home
- The safety of your loved ones and belongings on the property
- Your weather conditions and local climate
- Your overall aesthetics and tastes
- How often the door will be used
- Any pests or pets that might come in contact with the door
- HOA rules and regulations
- City permitting policies
Your door is one of the most used mechanisms on your property, so take your time choosing the right one and consult a professional if necessary. Making the right decision will pay big dividends in the long term.
Learn More About the Best Entry Doors for Your Home
Do you want to learn more about front doors or see get recommendations for the best entry doors for your specific home? Then get in touch with JSB Home Solutions. We have been in the Columbus, Ohio, home remodeling business for more than four decades now, and our door contractors are here to help. See our portfolio of past entry door projects now, or contact us to schedule a phone or in-person consultation.
You can also stop by our 1,900 square foot showroom to see some of our front entry door options for yourself or get inspiration for your home project. Whether you are looking to just re-do your front stoop or you are looking at an all-over renovation, we have the products and materials you need to get started.