A Guide to Choosing a New Front Door


The front door is the entryway to a home. It presents the first impression, and is oftentimes the focal point for the look of a house.

The front door extends a friendly welcome while also discouraging intruders and shutting out the weather. So it’s easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood. Nothing else matches the material’s warmth and satisfying heft, or offers so many design options.

Fiberglass doors are popped out of a mold. Steel doors are stamped. But a wood door can be custom crafted in virtually any shape or size and incorporate whatever molding profiles, panel configurations, glazing options, or carvings that you can imagine.

The rap on wood doors is that they warp.  However, that’s mostly a thing of the past…when doors were made of solid wood stock. For the past 25 years or so, most major manufacturers of quality wood doors have crafted their entry doors with stronger engineered-wood cores, which overcome solid wood’s tendency to twist and cup.

That attractive outer layer is actually just a thick veneer. While some low quality wood doors have thin veneers, there are few downsides to a quality engineered door with a thicker outer skin. With regular care, an engineered wood door should easily last the lifetime of your house.

Some minor regular maintenance is the extra cost of choosing a wood front door in the form of a fresh coat of paint or polyurethane every couple of years.  But for most, it’s a small price to pay for the lasting visual and tactile rewards a wood door gives us every time we come home.

Regarding maintenance, sunlight is the number-one finish killer, causing clear coats to degrade and paint pigments to fade. To be safe, sand and recoat varnished doors every year, polyurethaned doors every other year. Painted doors should get fresh coats every five to six years.

A wood door holds up best, and requires less maintenance, in a covered entryway. To be effective, that roof should project at least half the height of the door. If the roof is 10 feet above the door’s landing, for example, it should project 5 feet. Also, the roof’s width should be at least 1½ times that of the door.

Pre-hanging or a Slab (or Book) Door

Pre-hung doors come hinged to a weather-stripped frame, eliminating the need to square the door in its jamb, and with holes already bored for a lockset. They’re best for new construction (below), when rough framing is exposed.

Sometimes slab doors, sold without hinges and with no lockset boring, are used to replace existing doors when jamb and trim are in place and still in good shape.

Alternatives to Wood

Both fiberglass and steel doors generally need less maintenance than wood doors. Most have foam cores, so they insulate well. Neither of these alternatives have as many design options for you to choose from as wood does.

Fiberglass is better than steel at imitating wood, resisting water, and standing up to blows, but susceptible to fading.  The cost is comparable to a high-end stock wood door, but because the doors are made from molds, sizing options are limited.

While generally the least expensive exterior door option, steel doors are susceptible to dents, dings, and rust. The embossed panels do not mimic wood convincingly.

How to Order a New Entry Door

Your Door Store America friendly professional is just a call or email away to help you in choosing great new front door.

Contact us at 1-800-504-0506 or info@doorstoreamerica.com.