Entry Door Buying Guide

Entry Door Buying Guide

Your front entry works hard — it greets you after a long day of work or shopping, it keeps you and your loved ones safe from would-be intruders and it sets the first impression of your home for neighbors and guests. 

Whether you’re replacing an old door or planning for new construction, elevate your entry with a quality door. More than just beautiful, a front door should be:

  • Stylish
  • Durable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Energy-efficient

Are you thinking about installing a new exterior door? Read on to learn how to pick a front door for your home.

How to Choose a Front Door

With so many choices, it can be challenging to know what is the best type of exterior door for your home. This entry door buying guide helps you navigate the sea of options to consider when shopping to refresh your facade. 

Measure the Entryway

Your entryway dimensions are an essential consideration in your search for the perfect entry door. Start with measurements. Does your entry’s size accommodate a single or double door? Is the opening large enough for a transom or sidelights? The opening dictates whether you need to search for a standard or custom unit size.

Take the following four measurements or hire a professional installer to determine door size:

  1. Brick opening: The largest size, measured from the home’s exterior side from brick to brick
  2. Rough opening: The second-largest size, measured between the wall studs that the door unit will attach to
  3. Unit size: The external dimension of the frame where the door slab attaches
  4. Slab size: The dimensions of the door itself — most providers list door sizing based on the slab size

Types of Front Doors

Before you dive into architectural styles and finishes, take the time to understand the advantages, limitations and long-term maintenance requirements for the most critical door decision — material. Here’s what you should know to determine the best type of exterior door for your location, maintenance preferences and security needs.

Wood Doors

Carvable, stainable and paintable, wood doors have been a beloved entryway choice for thousands of years. Many doors listed as wood today consist of veneer skins over an engineered wood core, a cost-effective alternative to solid wood. Engineered wood-core doors resist warping, which is a typical issue for their solid wood counterparts. Look for 1/16″ or thicker furniture-grade veneers to ensure the surface won’t damage easily.

Available in various species — including alder, poplar, oak and cedar — wooden doors with intricate carvings, deeper panels, wider rails and thicker stiles indicate better quality. Wood doors require a lot of maintenance to prevent warping and fading and require installation under a sheltered area, protected from the elements and sun.

Steel Doors

Cost-effective steel doors are more durable than wood options. Made of an inner frame of steel or wood, filled with high-density foam insulation and covered with a steel skin, steel doors can withstand extreme temperatures and weather situations. The surface usually features a durable, baked-on polyester finish and may include a vinyl topcoat for improved weather resistance.

If home security is your priority, steel doors are ideal. Because they’re so durable and challenging to break into, many people consider them the most secure choice.

Steel doors won’t expand or contract, making them suitable for many regions. In the South, steel doors can withstand the glaring sun and heavy rainfall. In the Northeast, steel doors can handle the extreme seasonal shifts from hot, humid summers to frigid, snowy winters. These are some of the best exterior doors for winter, keeping your home warm in the harshest seasons.

Steel is less energy-efficient than wood or Fiberglas styles, and the metal surface can become hot to touch if exposed to direct sunlight. Traditionally smooth-surfaced, steel doors are less aesthetically versatile than other door types due to grainless, limited texture options.

Aluminum Doors

Like steel doors, aluminum units use an insulation core covered by metal skin. After solid wood, aluminum is the most expensive door type. The baked-on enamel finish is resistant to corrosion and rust, but can scratch or flake.

Aluminum expands when exposed to heat. Avoid aluminum doors if you live in an area with extreme temperature changes or if your entry sits in direct sunlight. Heat expansion can affect door locks’ functionality, decreasing home security. If you purchase an aluminum door, invest in higher-quality hardware than the standard locksets sold with most aluminum units.

Fiberglas Doors 

Rising in popularity for a good reason, Fiberglas doors are impervious to temperature and environmental factors that limit other door types’ longevity. Unlike wood, Fiberglas resists moisture, heat and humidity. And unlike steel, this material is rustproof.

Fiberglas doors are:

  • UV-resistant
  • Impervious to moisture and rot
  • Scratch- and dent-resistant
  • Energy-efficient
  • Warrantied longer than other doors
  • Aesthetically diverse, including wood-grain options

Fiberglas door cores consist of polyurethane foam, making the doors insulated and soundproof. Door framing is a moisture-proof composite material, eliminating the chance of mildew, mold, wood rot or termites. The door surface is a rugged, high-impact Fiberglas skin.

These virtually maintenance-free doors benefit from the latest manufacturing technology, capturing the look and feel of a solid wood door without the required upkeep.

Choosing a Front Door Style

You can pick the most durable, safest, longest-lasting door on the market, but if your door clashes with your exterior or is uninspiring, your investment will fall flat. The best front entrance doors marry function with form. Your front door is the first impression guests have of your home, so make it a great one by picking a door that complements your style.

A great door wows passersby and gives a hint to your home’s interior vibe. Consider your home’s history, color story and architectural details when selecting an entry door.

Traditional-Style Doors

Traditional-Style Doors

For an elegant look, traditional doors offer timeless beauty for your home. Traditional style is an evolution of European style elements from the 18th and 19th centuries. Traditional-style doors complement Colonial, French country, Neoclassical and Victorian architecture. Stained or painted wood-look entries feature decorative panels and may include a glass detail.

Craftsman-Style Doors

With an emphasis on natural materials like stone, brick and wood, Craftsman homes were born out of the Arts and Crafts movement. Craftsman entries feature covered porches with wood columns. With wood and period-inspired clean lines, Craftsman doors are the perfect choice for your Mission, Bungalow, transitional or classic Craftsman home.

Rustic-Style Doors

As their name implies, rustic homes incorporate natural, rough, aged and textured materials in their design. With wood grain, hammered-look hinges and decorative nail accents, rustic doors complement American Southwest, farmhouse, cottage, log cabin, mountain lodge, Tuscan and Mediterranean-inspired homes.

Contemporary-Style Doors

Modern and contemporary-style homes emerged in the mid-20th century. Prioritizing function over form, modern architecture celebrates simplicity instead of ornate decoration. The smooth, clean lines of contemporary doors are the perfect touch to mid-century modern, ranch, minimalist and modern homes.

Select a Finish and Color

Select a Finish and Color

Make a statement with the right color and finish to protect and enhance your door. To let wood’s natural beauty shine, consider grain and stain options. Paint expands your finish choice to any color of the rainbow.

Wood Grain

Just as tree species differ considerably, so does the pattern found in their wood grains. Grain types can be straight, interlocking or knotty. These textures plus a wood type’s natural color undertone affect stain outcome and overall style. Whether natural or manufactured, keep these grain options in mind as you select your door finish.

  • Pine: Knots and growth rings offer a casual, rustic look. 
  • Cherry: Smooth, straight grain makes cherry ideal for cabinets and clean looks.
  • Mahogany: This distinctive, swirly grain sometimes resembles ripples.
  • Oak: The quartersawn cut brings out unusual patterns that look like cat eyes, adding character.

Wood Stains

Wood stain is color and sealant applied to unfinished wood to adjust the hue and bring out its highlights. For example, you can choose an oak grain with a cherry stain, resulting in a warm red-brown color. Or, you could pick out an oak grain with a walnut finish, creating a darker brown.

Unlike paint, which is opaque, stain keeps the beauty of the wood grain visible. The final protective finish to the staining process can have a matte, satin or gloss sheen.

Paint Colors

Earn a reputation as the cheerful home on the block with a yellow door, make a bold statement with a pop of magenta or keep it classic with forever-stylish black. Painted doors let your personality shine and boost curb appeal. Color can make a tired door feel new again.

Protect your front door from the sun and weather with a new coat of paint. New doors offer scratch-resistant factory-finish colors that are practically maintenance-free, keeping your entry vibrant for years to come.

Select Glass Type

Glass door panels provide different levels of privacy and light. Choose glass to complement the style of your door and home.

  • Textured glass: Clear panels let in an abundance of natural light, while frosted glass provides privacy and light diffusion. Beveled glass evokes elegance, and reeded glass feels contemporary. 
  • Decorative glass: Greet visitors with an intricate work of art before they enter your home. Beveled, leaded and stained glass designs add color and personality, like jewels for your entry.
  • Transoms: Transom windows or lights are stationary glass sections placed above an entry door that allow natural light into your foyer. Dress up your entryway with a rectangular or arched transom. 
  • Sidelights: Also spelled sidelites, these panels lighten up a dark entry space with narrow vertical windows located on one or both sides of the door. Consider pairing sidelights with a transom to create a light-filled welcome into your home.

Select Hardware

Selecting the right style, finish and function for your door handle. When it comes to entrance design, hardware is the door’s jewelry — it completes the look and adds security for peace of mind.

Keyed or Keyless Entry

Hardware varieties offer different security levels and entry conveniences. Find the best fit for your household’s lifestyle and safety preference. Keyed units are the most common and secure lock style and require homeowners to manually lock and unlock the mechanism. As the most durable lock type, deadbolts hold a door closed using a bolt that anchors the door to the frame. 

Keyless entry units allow the user to open the door without a key, entering a passcode or using Bluetooth proximity sensors with their smart devices. For extra security, add a deadbolt.

Handle Type

From doorknobs to handlesets, the right handle complements your door style.

  • Doorknobs: Ageless and straightforward to install, doorknobs come in round or oval styles. 
  • Door levers: Stylish and simple to operate, door levers use a 90-degree turn to release the latch. Levers may be more comfortable to use for a person who has difficulty turning a knob. 
  • Handlesets: Trend-setting handlesets incorporate deadbolt security with the convenience of a pressure-sensitive thumb latch.

Hardware Design Style

Hardware Design Style

Whatever hardware you choose, it’s essential to match the style and finish to your entryway’s door and light fixtures. Hardware for a late-1700s farmhouse door would look out of place on a glass-and-metal minimalist door. 

Keep the history and aesthetic of your door in mind. An antique brass or gold doorknob feels right at home on a green Victorian door. A simple satin nickel lever sings against a modern purple door. An oil-rubbed bronze handleset brings a rustic wooden door to life. 

Handle set finishes include:

  • Bronze
  • Brass
  • Stainless steel
  • Wrought iron
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Copper
  • Satin nickel
  • Matte black
  • Patinaed or antiqued versions of the above

How Much Are Front Doors?

With numerous brands and choices available, new front door costs vary widely depending on the material type, style, brand and installation costs. Because exterior doors take a beating from the elements and require special framing considerations, expect to pay hundreds or thousands more than interior doors.

  • Style: More intricate styles like French doors, double doors, sidelights and custom sizes increase costs. 
  • Material: Material type is the most considerable cost factor. Steel and aluminum doors are cost-effective options, while Fiberglas and solid wood can be pricier alternatives.
  • Brand: A high-quality brand may cost more upfront, but will save hundreds or more in maintenance and replacement costs later.
  • Installation costs: Improper door fitting from an inexperienced installer can allow drafts into your home and lead to higher utility bills through the years. A professional installer ensures the correct fit for energy efficiency and fulfills warranty requirements.

Cost of Front Doors for Homes in CT

Connecticut front doors are as diverse in color and beauty as our trees are throughout the seasons. Speaking of seasons, you should select your front doors in Connecticut with our Northeastern climate in mind — making steel or Fiberglas great options. If you need help figuring out your front door’s cost, a professional installer will help you navigate options to find the perfect entry door at the right price.

How to Buy a Front Door 

Whether you buy a stand-alone door or an entire door-and-frame unit, keep these tips in mind as you shop.

  • Cost: Stay on budget with smart style and material selections. Remember, you can achieve the look of solid wood without the price! If you love the look of wood, Fiberglas fulfills the aesthetic at a lower cost — and comes with material-resistant benefits.
  • Exposure: Select a door to handle the sunlight and weather extremes for your region. If you’re buying an entry door in Connecticut, extend your investment’s longevity by choosing a material like Fiberglas or steel to withstand seasonal changes.
  • Installation: Professional installation by an experienced expert is the best choice to protect your investment. A professional door installer will measure your opening and make adjustments to make sure the door fits perfectly to ensure a secure, energy-efficient fit. 
  • Energy efficiency: Energy-efficient doors save heating and cooling costs. Technology has advanced new exterior doors to insulate far better than those of yesteryear. Check the National Fenestration Rating Council energy performance ratings of doors and Energy Star ratings for glass window inserts or panels. 
  • Maintenance: Avoid the cost and time of upkeep. Choose a door that reduces or eliminates the need for periodic painting or staining.
  • Warranty: A warranty provides peace of mind with your door investment, covering the cost of potential issues for years to come. Be sure to ask your door provider about warranties before making a final decision. For example, some manufacturers will void a warranty if you install a storm door.

Buying the right front door will pay off in energy and cost savings, less maintenance and curb appeal for years to come.

Welcome Guests With a New Front Entry From American Overhead Doors

Welcome Guests With a New Front Entry From American Overhead Doors

With more than 30 years of experience serving Connecticut homeowners, the experts at American Overhead Doors are ready to help your find the front entry door of your dreams. We are a family-owned business and treat our customers with care. 

Since we are a trusted provider of Connecticut entry doors, you can count on us to deliver exceptional service and quality brands.

Recognized for our high level of knowledge and responsive installation, we’re the only Clopay Master Authorized Dealer in the state. Our priority is providing superior expertise with our highly trained team of 20+ employees. Big or small, we treat every project with the dedication and service required to get it done right.

Contact American Overhead Doors today to schedule replacement or new entry door services.