It’s only human to stroll through house displays, picking out front doors that appeal to your aesthetic senses.
But it’s savvy to consider more than a pleasant appearance. After all, many door systems would add a sparkle to your home. So here are 10 ways to help you narrow the field:
1. Check your framework. We know what you’re thinking: “My current door closes, so can I get by without this investment?” If the framing is warped or the wall studs it’s nailed to are bowing and settling out of square, the answer is no. Your options are to delay the inevitable by planing the top and bottom/trimming the edges of the front door if it’s wood, or replace it if not.
2. R you high enough? The higher the R-value, the greater the door’s insulating powers. Experts say when an R-5 knocks, answer.
3. Energy Star labels count. You will automatically upgrade your insulating value if you choose steel or fiberglass over wood, but do push further for the EPA’s Energy Star seal. These doors must be independently tested and certified, so they typically go the extra mile on tight-fitting frames, energy-efficient cores and insulating glass that reduces heat transfer.
4. Plan for old age: Any door you hang will eventually show signs of wear. Look for options like an adjustable threshold (a.k.a. spring-loaded threshold) so you can more easily replace the seal to stay weather tight longer, and rails and stiles made of laminated wood covered with veneer, as these aren’t as vulnerable to warping.
5. If you purchase a stock wood door, ask for furniture-grade veneers at least 1/16 inch thick.
6. Make sure a prefinished wood door features a clear finish using polyurethane, for example. High-gloss sheens best protect painted doors. And both should be applied to the top and bottom edges to prevent the door from taking on moisture and swelling.
7. According to “This Old House,” the more intricate the carvings and molders and the thicker and wider the stiles and rails, the better the door.
8. Make sure it has a vinyl coating if your door will be exposed to harsher weather conditions. To really up your protection, look for a wood-fiber coating or a laminated-wood veneer.
9. Check the warranty. Some manufacturers void this if you install an aluminum storm door in combination because the heat build-up in the gap can peel the finish.
10. The door should feature a thermal break to separate the inside and outside door skins. Otherwise, you could find frost on the inside surface when you wake up some mornings in January.