Exterior Door Styles

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

A home's exterior doors have a big hand in creating that overall first impression. From modern glass inserts to the classic lines of a stile and rail door, there are numerous types of doors available for today's home.

Materials: How they shape different types of doors

Regardless of the color or design you choose for a home's exterior doors, there are at least half a dozen types of common door materials.

  1. Fiberglass: A Consumer Reports study of different types of door materials recommends that homeowners consider fiberglass first. That's why it tops this list. Fiberglass doors can be made to look just like wood; they offer excellent energy efficiency and withstand the elements well; they're also low-maintenance with a middle-of-the-road price point.
  2. Wood: Durable and versatile, wood has been used to create exterior doors of all shapes and sizes for centuries. It accepts stains and paint well, and comes in designs that complement architectural styles from Colonial Georgian to Modern Craftsman. While wood does require regular maintenance to look its best, these doors are easily repaired. They're often more expensive than fiberglass or steel as well.
  3. Steel: Steel doors are about as energy-efficient as fiberglass with a comparable price. Steel doors offer a high-level of security. The main drawback: They're hard to repair once dented.
  4. Glass: If you love light and being outside, glass doors bring sunshine and the vista into a home. You'll want to check your glass door panes for the quality of insulation they provide. Words to watch: U-value and low-e. Also keep in mind that someone will have to clean them. Glass doors and rooms are gorgeous complements to modern design homes.
  5. Iron: Generally used for ornate entry doors or enhanced security doors, iron packs a punch to both curb appeal and sticker price.
  6. Aluminum: A common, affordable option for screened, patio doors and entry doors, alike. They're just a little less elegant than their fiberglass and steel cousins.

Exterior door styles and designs

Choosing the right material for an entry, patio or side door is just a first step. Today's exterior door designs include architectural details ranging from Romanesque arches and Tuscan transoms to side lights and double doors. This leaves plenty of room for creativity, as you choose new exterior or entry doors.

  1. French doors: These romantic doors often lead to balconies, verandas or gardens. They can be customized by size, color and style, or include glass inserts, making them a versatile option.
  2. Sliding doors: Popular on decks and areas leading to backyards, the wide panes of glass allow for great views and plenty of sunlight. The downside: They're the least secure of all exterior door styles.
  3. Wrought iron doors: Emerging on the popular home design scene with the Edwardian period's lush balconies, a century later wrought iron can be found in numerous parts of the home and garden, including gates and entry doors. Today's wrought iron doors complement almost any architectural design, including modern. While you can expect to pay top dollar, you can also expect a gorgeous work of art.
  4. Patio or veranda doors: These run the gamut from a simple, aluminum frame door with a top screen to sliding glass doors. The key here is to ensure that door design and patio design complement one another, such that indoor-outdoor space can be used in the way that best suits your family.

Whatever material or exterior door style you choose, usually the lock is sold separately. Wherever you buy your entry door, ask for a selection of good, solid locks that match your door's design and keep your home entry secure. Tip: Look for designs that keep locks inaccessible by way of glass.