Shopping for an entry door is not as simple as closing your eyes and pointing. Nor is it a matter of going for the cheapest door available (at least it shouldn’t be) or choosing a door based on colour. There are a slew of considerations all vying for your attention as you begin your search for the perfect entry door. And while some will say the choice of material is most important, you’ll find just as many who claim the style should be your paramount concern. Still others will suggest you focus more on how much value a particular door adds to your Toronto home. (After all, a new entry door provides the highest ROI of any home improvement project.) In this guide we’re going to look at the various aspects of the entry door and explain why you might want to choose one over another.
Table Of Contents
- The Wide World of Entry Doors and How to Choose One
- Some of the Most Popular Entry Door Styles
- Entry Door Shopping Tips
The Wide World of Entry Doors and How to Choose One
The aesthetics of your home will provide a measure of guidance regarding the style of door you will want to buy. But even so style is not by itself of primary concern because many doors intentionally occupy a stylistic grey area and will work with a variety of home designs. So you’ll want to keep all the considerations we’re about to discuss in mind when you set out on your quest to acquire the perfect entry door. Let’s get started.
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It doesn’t make any sense to start shopping for an entry door until you determine a budget. While exterior doors won’t set you back as much as a kitchen remodel a quality door won’t be exactly cheap. However, if you choose your door wisely it will be amongst the smartest money you ever spent on a home improvement project. So what exactly do you need to consider when formulating a budget for your new entry door?
- The estimated lifespan of the door.
- The amount of value it is likely to add to your home.
- The energy profile of the door/its insulation capabilities.
- The type of coating and whether it will need regular maintenance.
- The level of protection it provides from the weather.
- Whether the door works with the rest of the house.
- Any special features
Essentially you want to maximize your return on investment (ROI). To do that you’ll want a door that provides long life, high energy efficiency, robust protection from the elements and design integration. You’ll also want one that won’t need a lot of maintenance or cost you an arm and a leg. Keep in mind too that a door that might cost a bit more up front may actually provide superior insulation abilities and wind up saving you big in the long run. Also, while an insulated steel door may cost a bit more you may actually see a reduction in your homeowner’s insurance when you install one.
Materials for Entry Door
Once you’ve established how much you’re willing to pay for an entry door that will fulfil all your requirements the next thing you’ll need to consider is materials. While in the not too distant past you were basically choosing between different types of wood today you have a slew of material choices any one of which will be perfect for someone’s home. Let’s take a look at those choices and the main selling points for each.
Wood Entry Door
We start with wood because it has tradition on its side. It also has beauty, integrity and the impossible-to-replicate feeling of a completely natural material going for it. When most people think of entry doors their thoughts naturally migrate to wood. Even many of those who are willing to consider alternative materials typically think of how well something like fiberglass can replicate the appearance of natural wood. Wood doors provide you with myriad design options, can have windows or be windowless and have a solidity and weight many find pleasing for both aesthetic and security reasons. A solid wood door also provides decent insulation and if it’s properly cared for will add significantly to both the curb appeal and market value of your home. That’s the good news. On the downside, wooden doors need a fair amount of maintenance because they’re prone to rotting, cracking and warping if they’re not properly cared for. In addition you always run the risk of attracting termites or wood ants who appreciate your wood door as much as you do but for different reasons. If you decide to go the traditional wooden door route be prepared to pay extra because quality wooden doors are not cheap. And also be prepared to accept that every couple of years you’ll need to paint or stain it.
Vinyl Entry Door
If you live in a moist environment you’ll likely want to avoid natural wood and maybe even steel simply because you don’t want to be chasing rot or rust around all the time. In those damp, harsh environments you may want something that doesn’t absorb moisture or need to be painted every couple of years. In such cases many Toronto homeowners find vinyl doors to be just what the home improvement doctor ordered. PVC vinyl doors are remarkably light and when fully insulated do a good job keeping your expensive heat indoors where it belongs. They’re available in a variety of styles and colours and may also include single or double glazed windows. On the down side they are remarkably light and vinyl is fairly flexible. Combine those two qualities and you have a door that won’t put up much of a fight against a determined intruder with a crowbar. Also keep in mind that vinyl is notoriously difficult to paint.
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Steel Entry Door
The opposite of vinyl when it comes to home security is steel. A fully insulated steel entry door will repel even the most determined B&E guy with little effort. As such, and as we said earlier, you may actually see a reduction in your homeowner’s insurance after installation of a steel entry door. But before you start thinking that steel is not an appropriate material for a front door think again. Steel entry doors today can assume any number of different appearances. They can be made to look like virtually any type of wood with any finish you can imagine. Or they can embrace their steel-ness while exhibiting all the aesthetic versatility of that most underappreciated of materials. Beyond aesthetic concerns your steel door will last for decades, provide excellent insulative ability and won’t warp, crack or rot like wooden doors. And because they won’t expand or contract like wood you’ll never have to worry about the door sticking on the frame or being difficult to open or close. Steel sliding doors are also a popular commercial choice. On the downside steel doors are susceptible to corrosion and so are not an ideal choice for damp climates. They’re also going to cost you more than most other types of doors.
Fiberglass Entry Door
Fiberglass is a relative newcomer on the entry door scene and is quickly making a name for itself. That’s mostly, (but not solely), because, unlike every other type of door besides vinyl fiberglass is impervious to rot and/or corrosion. This is a major plus for folks who live in damp areas or for anyone whose front door faces the weather. Fiberglass doors do have one big advantage over vinyl and that is that they’re typically much more robust from a structural standpoint. They’re also right up there with steel when it comes to insulation and they can be made to mimic the look and even the surface texture of wood. As far as versatility goes there are few other materials that can compare to fiberglass and they’ll last a good long time to boot. So why, you might wonder, if fiberglass doors are so amazing isn’t there a fiberglass door on every home? Why even bother with other materials? For a couple of reasons actually. First they are typically one of the most expensive types of door you can buy and second they can yellow with age and, in extremely cold and dry climates, they can become brittle over time and even crack.
Aluminum entry doors
Aluminum entry doors are an affordable alternative to wood, steel and fiberglass and provide many of the benefits of those materials in an easy to clean, easy to maintain package. Aluminum doors are typically treated to better withstand the ravages of outdoor life and can be finished in a variety of ways that provide intense aesthetic pleasure. From a security standpoint aluminum doors are nearly as tough as steel and can, in fact, be designed to mimic the look and feel of the heartier metal. So what is the downside here? Well, when it comes to providing insulation aluminum doors are not the best value on the market. They’re okay but not great. And they’re also prone to scratching and denting.
If security is your primary concern you may want to gravitate toward steel or the more affordable alternative, aluminum. If you’re a traditionalist who values genuine natural materials of course there is no substitute for wood. But if you’re a pragmatist that treasures versatility, durability and insulation capabilities and want a door that’s virtually maintenance free, check out fiberglass.
Some of the Most Popular Entry Door Styles
The front door is a transitional device like few others. It’s where guests are welcomed into your world, where first impressions are made and it also plays a crucial role in either enhancing or undermining the curb appeal of your home. It’s vital that – whatever material you choose – the style of the front door exudes your personal tastes, that it dovetails stylistically with the rest of your Toronto house and that it generates a sense of warmth and welcome. Below are some of the most popular entry door styles at this particular point in time:
Traditional Entry Door
The name says it all. The classic entry door as it’s understood today typically features anywhere from 2 to 12 raised panels on its surface. Most also feature some glass, usually in the upper 1/2 to 1/4 of the door. Traditional door designs are available in any of the materials profiled above although real purists will insist on a traditional style door in natural wood. Customization of traditional doors is typically restrained and may be limited to custom hardware, stained glass or even a bit of wrought iron over the glass panel or panels. Because there is some wiggle room built into the design elements of the traditional door they can be found on almost every type of house save for aggressively modern, minimalist designs.
Craftsman Entry Door
Craftsman doors are sometimes mistaken for traditional doors because they share many of the features of the classic traditional entry door. Closer inspection however reveals subtle differences, often manifested in the simplicity of the design and the stress on verticality in the design elements. Craftsman doors are a popular choice for rural homes due to their unassuming looks and good old fashioned Shaker sensibilities. You’ll often find them on cottages and farm houses. Wood is the preferred material for craftsman doors. Although fiberglass is making inroads these days as well.
Modern Entry Door
Modern entry doors epitomize all that makes the modern age, well, modern. They stress simple lines, clean unadorned geometric forms and they don’t try to hide their material DNA. In fact they’ll celebrate it. You’ll rarely see a steel door in the modern fashion that’s attempting to mimic a wooden door. In fact it may deliberately include design cues like rivets that direct your attention to the fact that it’s steel. The hardware on modern doors is equally minimalist although it is often larger than hardware you’ll see on traditional or craftsman doors. Also, modern-style doors are more likely to have no window(s) than other types of door.
Rustic Entry Door
The rustic entry door is one whose finish (and sometimes the surface itself) has been deliberately stressed in order to make it appear older than it is. Rustic doors embrace antiquated design elements and may have chips, nicks and scratches deliberately gouged out of their surface. Any finish is likely to be applied in a way that suggests the door has been exposed to the elements for many years. The hardware may also harken back to popular notions of medieval style with oversized latches and hinges and simplistic handles.
Arched Entry Door
The arched entry door may provide the greatest challenges when it comes to stylistic integration. In order for an arched entry door to work there must be an arch motif present in some other aspects of the design of the house. Otherwise the arched entry door will seem incongruous. The arched door is also difficult to pin down to a specific stylistic period which means it lends itself to myriad styles from contemporary to colonial. Arched doors are typically built to order rather than bought from the home improvement centre.
Entry Door Shopping Tips
Finally, now that we have a better idea about the various materials and styles of exterior doors let’s have a quick look at the process of shopping for an entry door. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when looking for a new front door for your Toronto house:
- Make sure all components come from the same manufacturer – Most people don’t just purchase a door, they purchase a door system. That means the door, the frame and any peripherals. If you are about to do the same make sure all the various components are made by the same manufacturer in order to insure compatibility.
- Make sure the door includes a thermal break – The thermal break is typically a vinyl strip on the edge of the door that separates the inside and outside of the door and prevents cold and/or heat from penetrating to the inside of your home. Make sure your door has such a device.
- Look for Low-e Glazing – Always look for low-e glazing on any windows in the door. In addition, it’s often a good idea if you can find glazing that resists break-ins.
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When you take the time to learn all the different aspects of the entry door you soon discover how much easier it makes the purchasing process. You’ll also likely be shocked at how differently you regard entry doors once you know more about their history, materials and design motifs.
The entry door is more than a portal separating the world of the inside from the world of the outside. It’s going to play a significant role in determining the size of your energy bills, it’s going to play a part in determining how your home is perceived by your guests and neighbours and it’s going to play a role in determining the market value of your home. For expert advice when selecting an entry door call the company more people in Toronto trust more than any other; Toronto Doors and Windows.