Finding the right exterior door for your home
As an entry point to the home, exterior doors create an inviting threshold. An attractive door shows pride of ownership and boosts a home's curb appeal. A wide variety of exterior doors exist. Understanding the types of exterior doors and materials they're made from allows you to make the best possible choice for your home.
Wood is the most popular type of front door, although fiberglass and steel doors are also used, says Hannah Ribeneck, head sales consultant for South Bay Door & Window, a dealer in Redondo Beach, Calif.
The most common front door style is the slab, consisting of a solid piece of flat or textured wood that may contain glass insets and panels. Such doors run $130 to $5,000, depending on the quality, material, and maker. Popular front door manufacturers include Simpson, Jeld-Wen, AAW and Caoba.
Back and side door options
- Dutch doors consist of two horizontal halves. The top half, which can open and close independently of the bottom half, may be solid wood or include a window. You'll likely pay from $1,550 to $3,500 for Dutch doors from top manufacturers such as Jeld-Wen and T.M. Cobb.
- French doors consist of two glass-filled panels that lock in the middle and swing in or out. Such doors generally come in fiberglass or wood. Expect to pay $1,500 to $5,500 for high-end French doors from manufacturers such as T.M. Cobb, Caoba and AAW.
- Sliding glass doors have two to four panels often framed with vinyl that overlap when the doors are open. Sliders range from 5-foot wide to 16-foot wide or larger, with the opening size half of that. Pay from $500 to $8,000 or more for high-end sliders from manufacturers like Milgard and Jeld-Wen.
- Bifold doors are mostly glass and constructed with hinges that allow the door to fold up. Depending on the number of panels, you can get a 16-foot opening or even wider. Materials used for bifold doors include wood, wood clad and fiberglass. Prices range from $3,000 to $20,000 for a high-end bifold door from La Cantina or Jeld-Wen.
A wide variety of door styles and colors exist, allowing you to complement your home's architecture. Some of the most popular styles include beach bungalow and craftsman, which often contain glass, arches, and panels, and usually come in light browns. Modern doors have clean lines and are smooth with no paneling, often featuring burnt orange and red. Santa Fe/Rustic doors are usually made of knotty, distressed, dark wood.
Depending on the style you are looking for, here are some of your material options:
- Wood: One-hundred percent, solid wood doors are the heaviest and most secure doors available. Wood doors from high-end manufacturers withstand the outdoor elements if you apply protective coatings regularly, and they can be sanded and refinished indefinitely.
- Fiberglass: Resembling wood, yet resisting staining and scratching, fiberglass doors can be painted, but they don't require protective coatings and are generally maintenance-free. Don't be tempted by the price-tag of low-priced fiberglass doors, though. Opt for high-quality manufacturers such as Therma-Tru, whose products are less likely to crack under pressure.
- Steel: Except for their tendency to dent and scratch, steel doors are relatively indestructible and energy-efficient. Opt for 22-gauge or lower steel doors.
- Hybrid doors: Made of mixed materials like wood, polyurethane, vinyl and steel, hybrid doors are becoming increasingly more common.
Fiberglass and steel doors tend to be the most energy-efficient; wood doors are not rated. Doors with a U-factor below .30 are considered energy-efficient, says Ribeneck.
Buying doors and finding contractors
If you're ready to search for the right exterior door for your home and a reliable contractor to install it, just use the form on this page. You can also ask for referrals from friends who are happy with their doors and the installer. Make sure any installer is licensed, insured and bonded.