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Entry Door Basics Part II

15 September

from DIY Network


A steel entry door combines strength and stability with relatively low cost. A steel door has a well-deserved reputation for security and weather resistance, but fiberglass and solid wood doors are solid performers too.

Steel doors aren’t made of solid metal – they have a polyurethane core with a 16- to 24-gauge steel skin. That core material is an excellent insulator, and steel doors rate high as thermal barriers.

Steel doors come either primed or with factory-applied paint. Some feature a vinyl coating that simulates the look of wood grain.

The Achilles heel of the steel door is that it is prone to dents and dings that may be difficult or impossible to repair and scratches in the surface may rust. In a heavy-use area, such as your front entry, the risks of accidental damage increase.


On the opposite side of the price spectrum from steel, wood doors clad in aluminum, copper and bronze fill the need of homeowners who want durability and a distinct architectural accent. Aluminum-clad doors feature tough, factory-applied finishes that have warranties of 10 years of more and are exceptionally weather-resistant. Sophisticated extruding techniques ensure that joints and details are crisp.

Copper- and bronze-clad doors feature finishes that are changing subtly, but constantly, due to oxidation and their variegated appearances hide scratches and other imperfections gathered over time. Teresa Grabill, CFO of custom window and door manufacturer Grabill in Almont, Mich., estimates that a bronze-clad door costs approximately 40 percent more than a comparable all-wood door.


If there’s a buzzword in the world of entry doors, it’s fiberglass. Price-wise, fiberglass sits in the middle between steel and wood doors, but outperforms both in terms of toughness and low-maintenance.

Similar to steel doors, fiberglass-clad doors feature an inner foam core that contributes light weight and high energy efficiency. The core is covered with a layer of fiberglass that’s impervious to moisture, rot and insects.

These days, door manufacturers are getting very good at having embossed fiberglass mimic the look and feel of real oak, mahogany, fir and other woods. Finished in one of a variety of stain colors, fiberglass doors are tough to tell from the real deal. Crisp detailing on good-quality models completes the deception.

Fiberglass doors are stable and won’t warp in weather extremes and are good candidates for paint. Because fiberglass doesn’t contract and expand with changes in humidity as much as real wood, paint and stains last a long time, and fiberglass doors rarely need a touch-up.

Fiberglass doors are readily available at home improvement centers where price ranges from $200 to $2,500. Complete fiberglass door systems with a pair of art glass sidelights reach $3,500.

According to Remodeling Magazine, a fiberglass entry door replacement project doesn’t have as big of a return as that of a steel door, recouping only about 65 percent of your investment.