First impressions are important, so it’s essential you choose the entrance to your home with care. The exterior door should harmonize with the style and other architectural elements of your home. You won’t lack for choice; there is a wide range of door models available to suit all budgets and tastes. In the following buyer’s guide, we will analyse the various materials and types of doors you have to choose from. That way, you’ll be in a position to make a truly well-informed decision. Open the door to suit your style and needs.
What style of exterior door suits the architecture of your house?
Does maintenance factor into your decision?
What is the climate like where you live?
There are five different types of exterior door: steel, aluminum, wood, fibreglass, and PVC. Doors are hybrids nowadays, which is to say they are constructed from a combination of materials. For example, the inside frame can be made of wood, polyurethane foam used for the core, and the outside layer can be made of steel, aluminum or PVC. In Canada, entry or exterior doors are generally insulated with an injected foam insert. This is important to verify, because frost will form on the inside of an un-insulated door.
Choose the handle and lock you want when you buy your door. This way, you’ll make sure that the holes you’ll need to drill in the door will be compatible with the lockset you’ve chosen. Since the exterior door sets the welcoming tone to your home and can enhance its appearance, make your choice based on the style and design of your home.
Steel doors are extremely versatile. They can harmonize with all architectural styles and accommodate a number of decorative windows. Rigidity, longevity, airtightness and easy maintenance are all qualities of steel doors. Impressive insulation properties and low cost are also features. Steel doors with large glass panels do not have a high energy-efficiency rating, although they are popular. Magnetic weather-stripping on top and on the lock side of the door provides superior air-tightness. Flexible weather-stripping is used on the hinge-side of the door, and interlocking weather-stripping on the bottom.
Increasingly rare, wood doors are installed primarily on traditional and heritage homes. New manufacturing techniques and the use of wood laminates have made them more resistant to warping due to changes in temperature.
Most wood doors are made of wood veneer panels approximately 1/16" thick, between which insulation material is injected, giving the door good insulation qualities. Wood doors remain a sound long-term investment as long as they are well-maintained. To seal the wood and protect it against humidity, wood doors need to be painted, stained or varnished. For good air-tightness, use interlocking weather-stripping and replace periodically or when necessary.
Fibreglass doors are moulded around a polyurethane core, which provides them superior rigidity and resistance to cold and impact damage. Minimal use of wood in manufacturing means they don’t warp or shrink in the sun, under humid conditions, or due to temperature fluctuations. Fibreglass doors come in a wide variety of colours and textures. Moulding techniques together with the use of stains and other wood finishes give the appearance of a natural wood grain. Easy to maintain, fibreglass doors can be washed with soap. Ensure the longevity of your door by checking the weatherstripping on a regular basis.
PVC is a light-weight material that is weather and corrosion-resistant. Steel reinforcement on the inside of the door makes it rigid, reducing heat and energy loss. The energy-efficiency rating is approximately R-16. Its appearance closely resembles the steel door. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t discolour or yellow with age. Maintenance requirements are minimal.
Aluminum is used mainly for patio doors, storm doors and screen doors. Its light weight makes it ideal as a sliding door. The material is weather-resistant and its baked-on finish is easy to clean. Since aluminum is a material conductor, it provides poor thermal insulation.
Better resistant to warping due changes in climate
Steel doors with large glass panels have low energy-efficiency ratings
Generally 20 to 25% more expensive than steel doors
Mainly used as patio doors
|ENTRETIEN ET FINITION|
May include many decorative glass panels
Comes in a variety of colours and textures
Easy to clean
Easy to keep clean
Exterior doors are usually installed in a wood frame, which may be covered to harmonize with the finish of the door.
Pine is a pale and light-weight wood that dries without splitting and is easy to work with. You can be paint, stain or varnish it in the colour you want. Paint and stain retailers carry various products that require minimum maintenance. As for style, stained or varnished knotty pine frames will give your decor a rustic look.
Pine is very heat-resistant, and can withstand cold and variations in humidity very well. The smell of pine and its attractive ‘knotty’ appearance are also positive features. The knots in knotty pine are usually small and remain
Cedar can be painted, stained or varnished very easily. You can also let it age naturally, un-treated. This light-weight wood is easy to work with and to install. Red cedar is the lightest Canadian wood, with greater longevity than any other wood species.
Clad wood represents an attractive compromise for those who love wood though want to be spared the extra maintenance. The interior frame may remain natural wood, while the exterior frame is covered with PVC.
Aluminum is incontrovertibly the most rigid material. A frame covered with aluminum is resistant to dents and requires only minimum maintenance. .
Doors usually come with detailed installation instructions from the manufacturer. An expensive door poorly installed will not be as energy efficient as intended, and the mechanisms will be much more likely to break.
Installing an exterior door requires great attention to detail. Do-it-yourselfers should be at an intermediate level, and ideally two together because doors are heavy and difficult to handle. Installation and particularly anchoring will vary according to the type of door; a door with a wood frame will be installed differently from a door with a steel frame.
It is crucial that you take careful measurements. This will vary according to the project, renovation (replacement door) or new construction. If the door is too big or too narrow, you’ll need to make structural changes, which involve additional cost and time. It is far better to verify your measurements first. It is also necessary to check door level and operation throughout the installation, and make adjustments to the door when necessary.
Basic tools are needed to install an exterior door: square, tape measure, level, hammer, circular saw and wood shims.
Whether it is etched, painted or stained as in church windows, glass is certainly the most impactful feature of a door. You may consider adding sidelites (glass panels on either or both sides of the main entrance door), or a transom (glass panel above the door that can be rectangular, oval or arch-shaped). Sidelites and transoms act as a frame for the door, and with a little attention paid to their decorative possibilities; you can provide a stunning focal point to the front of your house. Glass panels will reduce the door’s energy-efficiency unless you opt for double-paned or triple-glazing panels covered with an invisible coating that reduces heat loss. The metal frame holding the decorative glass is itself a decorative feature. Usually brass or brushed nickel, it is available in many different styles and shades.
Exterior doors are subject to the National Building Code, which stipulates that doors opening to the outside may not measure less than 32"W and 75"H. Municipalities may increase the required width and height stipulated in the Code, but never decrease. Consulting a building inspector before you start work could save you time and problems. There is no R-value (thermal resistance value) requirement for exterior doors; however, before you purchase a door, check the insulation capacity and, when and where it is needed, ensure there is sufficient weatherstripping.
Though doors between the house and garage are not considered to be exterior doors, they should be insulated and equipped with a self-closing device to prevent carbon monoxide and other vehicle exhaust gasses from entering the house.
Function, energy-efficiency, security, appearance and compatibility are the considerations that should guide your choice of an exterior door. There is a wide range to choose from; at the end of the day, you need to choose a door that will harmonize with your decor, reflect your taste, and meet all your expectations and requirements.
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