A new fiberglass entry door can add substantial appeal to your home without costing you a fortune. Available at home center stores, lumber yards, or through contractors or special retailers, exterior doors are easy to view, browse and purchase. Fiberglass exterior doors are offered in a vast array of styles to suit any price range, and they are comparable to other popular materials such as wood doors and steel doors.
Fiberglass doors offer the highest durability in any climate. They are virtually maintenance-free and will not warp, rot, dent, or split. In some cases, fiberglass doors can even be painted or stained. Fiberglass doors also offer energy ratings equal to or better than wood, but without the high heat transmittance of steel. Fiberglass is ideal for extreme heat or humid climates, or for sunny, south-facing uncovered entryways.
When fiberglass first appeared in the market, it looked and felt like plastic, with the wood-grain an obvious cheap rendition of the real thing. While some fiberglass doors are still distinguishable from wood, many are virtually identical in feel and appearance. Like most products, there is a range of prices for fiberglass doors, though the price differences are based mostly on aesthetics. Performance between these doors is generally the same with the exception of extremely cheap fiberglass doors, which may crack or deteriorate quickly.
For some, nothing will beat the warmth and naturally rich appearance of a wood door. Most doors can be designed to meet strict code requirements in hurricane-prone areas and are available with fairly high ratings for fire protection.
Natural elements including sun and humidity are a wood door’s natural enemies. Wood will slowly display use and wear, including scratches and cracks. Refinishing will likely be necessary, but the frequency will depend on the climate and direction of the door. Wood doors can also warp when exposed to high moisture.
There are two types of wood doors: solid core and solid wood. A solid core door is usually comprised of a piece of plywood or laminate with a thicker piece of backer behind it. Refinishing may only be performed a limited number of times, especially if the laminate is thin.
A solid wood door, made of pure wood, will be heavy and secure and can be always be refinished. A solid wood door can be expensive - possibly the most expensive choice with the exception of some very high-end fiberglass doors.
Steel is a practical choice for many types of doors as it offers high security and resistance to humidity. Steel is low maintenance, will not warp, and comes in a range of styles and colors. On the flip side, steel doors can easily be marked, showing dents, scuffs, and scratches. Because they are constructed of steel, they also conduct heat - sometimes resulting in a door hot to the touch - and transmit cold.
There is a huge range in quality and price when it comes to steel doors. The gauge of the steel will tell you how strong the door is: the higher the number, the thinner the steel. While 24-gauge steel doors are common, they should be considered temporary as they can rust and fall apart. Look for at least a 22-gauge, which offers thicker steel that won’t bend or flex and holds paint well. Gauge numbers lower than 22 are generally used for commercial or industrial applications.