How To Choose An Exterior Door For A Remodel in Greater Madison

Which Is The Best Exterior Door? Steel, Wood, and Fiberglass

A significant component of your home's curb appeal is your front exterior door. Replacing it cannot only improve curb appeal, but it's also an investment that can provide a pretty good return over time. In fact, installing an energy efficient door can save you hundreds of dollars year off of your energy costs.

So, what should you look for when choosing the perfect exterior door for your home? Let's take a look at the three most common materials used for exterior door construction: wood, steel, and fiberglass.

Steel Exterior Door

When it comes to keeping out intruders, steel is the most durable material, but it's not considerably stronger than solid wood, or a high-end fiberglass door. While steel doors offer a low entry price, you should be prepared to compromise as steel doors tend to have a much shorter lifespan than either wood or fiberglass exterior doors.

When exposed to salt air, high humidity or frequent rains, a steel door will typically last from 5 to 7 years. Despite its reputation for durability, Consumer Reports found that under regular day-to-day use and normal wear and tear both wood and fiberglass doors outperform steel. Steel doors may dent when subject to heavy use and are expensive to repair. If your door will experience heavy use or be continuously exposed to weather, you may want to consider wood or fiberglass as alternatives.

A 2016 Remodeling Magazine report found that homeowners who installed a steel entry door typically spent an average of $1335, and when they sold their home recouped 92% of their original investment. A steel door can sell for as little as $200.00 – not including hardware, lockset, painting, and labor. A mid-grade steel door can be found for around $750.

Wood Exterior Door

This contemporary wood door by Jeld-Wen was installed to transform the style of the home from ordinary to extraordinary. To learn more about the transformation in other areas of the home, follow the photo link.

Solid wood exterior doors are typically the most expensive choice with prices ranging from $600 to $3000 and up depending on the level of customization. It also requires the most maintenance needing to be repainted or re-stained every year or two to keep it sealed to prevent warping or splitting.

Wood doors are the most popular choice among homeowners who are remodeling. Nothing quite matches the look, heft, and durability of a solid wood exterior door. If you're looking for a luxurious option for your entryway, a wood door is an excellent choice.

If you're environmentally informed and want to reduce your energy usage, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides a certification for wood used in exterior door construction was sustainably grown and harvested. Figuring out the environmental impact of the harvest, manufacturing, and shipping of your door is almost impossible for the average homeowner. You may also want to look for Energy Star rating information. If your door has these two certifications, you can rest assured that you are buying an efficient, environmentally sustainable product.

Fiberglass Exterior Door

Fiberglass doors come in an assortment of styles and colors and thanks to advanced manufacturing technology. Modern fiberglass doors accurately imitate natural wood. If you're looking for a near maintenance free exterior door, fiberglass is the choice for you.

Fiberglass doors do not react to temperature extremes and will never expand or contract with weather or temperature changes. In a reasonably protect location, fiberglass doors can last 15 to 20 years and never need painting. Although it feels lighter than steel and wood doors, fiberglass is remarkably durable and is difficult to breach. Plus, most fiberglass doors have a foam insulating core making them extremely energy efficient.

When it comes to price, fiberglass entry doors fall between wood and steel with most models range in price from $300 to $900.

Custom Doors and Stainless Steel

This stunning stainless steel door is an amazing entry to this transformed contemporary home, but the truth is it was a nightmare to source and install.

Would you be surprised to learn that custom doors can be troublesome? Stainless steel doors, for example, can have significant problems with thermal bridging (heat transfer from outside to inside in summer sun, and cold transfer from outside to inside during the winter). Finding a great looking door on the internet can be intriguing, but having the support of a known, trusted local expert is key to making things work out.

Pricing Caveat

The pricing info we included in this blog are for general reference, illustrating the relative price of basic door options. In fact, most of the doors that our clients choose are much more expensive than the basic options listed here. There are other services provided, such as painting or staining of the door, new interior trim, low-maintenance clad jambs, custom color matching, filler pieces, and much more that impacts the overall door price. Our typical clients don't just spend a couple thousand dollars on a new door installation -- they choose a door and installation package with options that total thousands more.

Energy Efficiency

When choosing a door based on energy efficiency, it's important to understand the role construction plays in overall efficiency. The framing used, the insulation used (in fiberglass and steel doors) and if the door includes inset windows all affect energy efficiency. That's why it's essential to look for the Energy Star label and efficiency rating when comparing doors based on standard measurements of energy efficiency.

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 2/14/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.