New exterior doors can increase your home’s value through greater curb appeal. When upgrading your exterior doors, there are many details to keep in mind. From architectural style to interesting details like a knocker or decorative glass, there are many ways you can transform a basic front door into a grand entrance. Keep the following tips in mind to help select the door that is right for you.
Exterior doors are available in an incredible variety of designs. From traditional steel to ornate, hand-carved wood, you can find a door for any taste or budget.
Steel— Due to stainless steel’s natural resistance to corrosion, these doors are great for high salt or chemical applications. They are also not as prone to rust, and unlike hollow metal doors, stainless steel doors can be disinfected without affecting the finish of the door. It is for this reason that stainless steel doors are often the door of choice for restaurants.
Fiberglass— fiberglass doors have many different design options. You can get fiberglass doors that look just like a wood door. Pretty fancy, huh? Like stainless steel doors, they can withstand chemicals and harsh environments very well, and they have the added bonus of being less expensive than stainless steel doors.
Wood— Wood doors are probably some of the most beautiful doors on the market and have seemingly endless design and finish options. You can go as basic as a flat door, or as ornate as panel doors with detailed carvings. Due to the inherent properties of wood, these doors are great for dampening sound and don’t conduct heat and cold. Also, as long as you aren’t ordering lavish designs or exotic wood species, wood doors tend to be more affordable.
Beauty is in the Details
There are a number of features to consider with any exterior door choice.
Door Configurations— Entry doors are available in many configurations to make the most of your entrance. Choose a single door, or a double door to create a grand entrance with twice the opening space. Add a sidelight or two to give the illusion of a larger entry, or bring additional light into your foyer.
Door Swing— Doors are available as inswing (I/S) or outswing (O/S) models. This simply refers to which way your exterior door will swing: outward (toward the outside of the house) or inward (toward the inside). Most homes are built to accommodate inswing doors, however, your entry door can be designed to swing outward if preferred.
Door Handing— This refers to the direction that the door swings. When viewed from the outside, if the hinges are on your left side and the door is pushing away from you, it is a left hand (LH) inswing. If the hinges are on your right side and the door is pushing away from you, it is a right hand (RH) inswing.
Panel Type— Choosing the right panel type and glass option will help you transform your home into the showplace you desire. Doors are available as an all panel style or with a glass panel insert.
Glass Options— The glass you select for your door can add both style and performance benefits. You can choose from performance features like impact-resistant glass for storm concerns, or Low-E glass to improve energy efficiency and provide UV protection. Style features include decorative glass, or textured glass and blinds between the glass for added functionality and privacy concerns.
Understanding Door Slabs versus Prehung Systems
A door slab is simply the door itself, whereas a prehung system includes the door hanging within its own frame. A prehung system will include all of the parts, like the door frame and hinges, needed to install the door. If you already have a good door frame in place, then you may just want to replace the door slab.
Measuring and Installing
Once you’ve selected either a door slab or a prehung system, make sure you get the perfect fit by properly measuring. The most reliable method includes removing any interior or exterior trim to expose the true opening and then measuring it. Determine prior to installation what the actual finished floor height will be and adjust the rough opening if needed to accommodate a taller unit height. Measure in three places to ensure that the opening is level, square and plumb.
How to measure a door slab:
1. Remove the door slab from the hinges for easier measuring.
2. Measure the length and width of the door slab and indicate in the appropriate spot on the diagram.
3. Measure the distance from the top of the door to the center of the lockset and mark on diagram. Be sure your tape lays flat and that you are sure your measurement is correct.
4. Measure from the top of the door to the top of each of the hinges and mark in the diagram.
5. Circle the hinge style and mark the size of the hinges currently on the door slab.
6. Hinge Reveal is the distance between the end of the hinge and edge of the door slab. Measure the reveal and door thickness and record the measurements.
7. Circle the Backset Latch Style and indicate the backset distance, or the distance between the edge of the door and the centerline of the doorknob. In most doors it is 2- 3/8″ or 2-3/4″.
8. Indicate the door handing.
How to measure a prehung door:
First, measure the door slab following steps 1 and 2 of the above section, “How to measure a door slab.”
Take three horizontal measurements of the rough opening and record the smallest measurement. This is the rough opening (R.O.) width.
Take three vertical measurements of the rough opening and record the smallest measurement. This is the rough opening (R.O.) height.
Take one horizontal measurement of the door jamb (thickness of the jamb). This is the jamb width.
Regardless of which door you choose, make sure it fits tightly into the frame with no more than a 1/8″ clearance between the door and the frame. This will help prevent drafts and reduce heating and cooling costs.
After you have purchased your exterior doors, you can find installation instructions here:
Entries Featuring Patio Doors
Some exterior doors are considered patio doors. Typically these doors are glass panels that slide, swing or even fold open, and they are typically used as an entry point to a patio or backyard space. If you do not find what you’re looking for in our exterior door offering, please refer to our selection of patio doors.
Now that you have an understanding of the many features and options available for entry doors, we hope you’re ready to select the type that best fits your needs,