Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report states that Entry Door Replacement can help you recoup as much as 101.8% nationally depending on the material. A fiberglass door will return a 70% investment, but this figure changes depending on the region. For example, homeowners in the Pacific recovered 91.6% by replacing their existing door with a fiberglass one. While this makes exterior door replacement a wise investment in home improvement, choosing one for your home should not be about resale potential. What matters is how it suits your current needs while you are actually living there! In addition to aesthetics, you want your doors to provide protection and help reduce energy costs. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to determine the best exterior door for you.
Your first step is to examine the door-frame and threshold. Hopefully, it is in excellent shape and you can simply switch your doors. If there is damage, however, such as rot or the natural bowing of the wall studs, you may need to remove and replace the door-frame, including the jambs and threshold, especially if you do not purchase a wood replacement door. If you do choose wood, you have the option of planing the top and bottom of your new door so that it will sit properly in a slightly warped frame. Most new doors, however, are prehung within a new frame. You will need to choose either a left- or right-hand door. To figure out which you need, stand outside your current door, and if the hinges are on the right side, you require a right-hand door and vice-versa. You will also want to measure the height and width of the existing doorjamb then add ½” to the height and ½”–¾” to the width.
Wood is probably the most popular choice. It looks fantastic and is versatile. It often is the most expensive option, however, and requires more maintenance than its steel and fiberglass counterparts. That said, nothing can beat a solid wood door, and the design options, including any glass features, are endless. Fiberglass doors are durable, maintenance free, and realistically can mimic the look of real wood. They can run you a pretty penny, however, because most warranties require purchasing an exterior door that includes the frame, and accessories are cost-neutral regardless of which material you choose.
Aesthetics are a personal choice, but, if you want to maximize your energy savings, you will want to select a door with an appropriate R-value, which indicates how much the material inhibits the transfer of heat. A higher R-value corresponds with a more effective level of insulation. Doors typically range from a 2-5R value. While thickness is one component of R-value, the inner construction of the door, and its materials can all affect a door’s R-value. Keep in mind that while you may initially pay a little more for a R-5 door, you will recover that additional cost with a reduction in your utility bills rather quickly.