Since most people these days enter their homes through the garage or side doors, they rarely end up using — or even thinking about — their front doors. However, even if a front door isn’t used very often, it still plays an important role in a home’s curb appeal, security and energy efficiency.
While most homeowners understand the importance of replacing their energy-wasting windows, few are aware of the benefits of updating their front doors. Just like windows, exterior doors have recently seen several remarkable improvements in appearance, durability, and energy efficiency — meaning that upgrading your entry door can significantly boost the value of your home.
Of course, some homes are more in need of a front door replacement than others. In this article, we’ll share with you the most telling signs that your front door needs an upgrade.
Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Front Door
Consider upgrading your front door if you notice any of the following problems:
1. There’s Space Under or Around Your Doors
When windows are shut, light shouldn’t be peeking through the frame or casing. Likewise, when you close your exterior doors, light should not be coming in around the threshold or frame. Keep in mind that, if light is shining through, other undesirable things can get in as well, which may include drafts, water, insects, and even rodents.
Drafts of cold or hot air, which are more common in older homes, can also be a sign of a gap around the framing and can seriously affect your comfort. Simply updating your weather stripping may correct the problem, but you should think of that as just a temporary repair, as these seals need to be replaced periodically. If you’re feeling drafts season after season, it’s time to replace your front door.
2. Your Front Door is Damaged
Doors are subjected to a lot of wear and tear throughout their lives and can be damaged in various ways. Consider a front door replacement if you notice any of the following types of damage:
- Dents: If your door contains dents, its structural integrity may be compromised. Residential doors bought at big-box home improvement stores typically consist of 24 to 26-gauge steel over a wood frame, which is not particularly sturdy. Just one gentle kick — which many use as a method to open the door when our hands are full — can create a large, unattractive dent.
- Rusting: If your door is rusted, this means moisture has likely made its way inside to the wood frame and is causing rot. Lower quality or builder grade steel doors are not galvanized on the inside. When moisture makes its way through the seams of the door, rust will start to deteriorate the door from the inside out. This will make the door structurally unsound and not strong enough to protect your home from easy, unwanted entry.
- Splitting and peeling: Solid wood doors are known to age particularly poorly. As they have expanded and contracted over many summers and winters, they tend to become cracked, warped, and weathered. If your wood door is splitting and the paint is peeling, this will allow moisture to get inside the wood and cause rot. This may also attract termites and other wood-destroying insects.
- Squeaky hinges: As you may know, squeaky hinges can be silenced by applying a little lubrication. However, this noise may signify a more serious problem — that the door itself is beginning to fail. If you notice squeaky hinges, take action as soon as possible, as hinge-related issues can make it much easier for intruders to force open the door.
3. The Lock on Your Front Door Is Not Locking Properly
If your door doesn’t lock properly, this is obviously a security issue, and you will want to replace the lock immediately. If your previous lock was a traditional lock system, you may want to consider upgrading to a more advanced lock system. In recent years, a wide variety of systems have been developed, including models with push pads and ones that can be remotely operated with smartphones.
As several of these lock systems will require you to replace the whole lock system, consider this a good opportunity to install a new, more structurally-sound door to go with your newly upgraded locking system.
4. Your Doors are Hard to Open
If you’re always struggling to open or close your front door, think of this as another great opportunity for an upgrade. If your door is sticking in the door jamb, this indicates that your door is expanding and contracting or even warping. These changes cause your door to no longer fit in the door jamb properly. Your door may also have areas that are exposed either down the side or bottom or top where light can be seen. All of these issues mean your door is in need of an upgrade.
5. Your Energy Bills Are Increasing
The exterior of your home serves as a thermal envelope, and any openings in this envelope, including doors, can be a source of air leaks, particularly if the doors are older. These leaks will force your HVAC system to work much harder to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures, and your energy bills will increase as a result. This is especially true in the northeast, which experiences hot summers and exceptionally frigid winters.
If you have an older front door, you may be able to lower your heating and cooling bills by replacing your door with a new energy-efficient model, which can combat inefficiency with its superior insulation properties. By upgrading your door to an energy-efficient option, you will quickly recoup the expense by incurring lower cooling and heating costs.
However, when picking out a new door, make sure to check out its energy performance ratings and confirm that the rating is appropriate for Pennsylvania’s climate. To verify the energy efficiency of the door, reference the ENERGY STAR© rating as well as the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. The ENERGY STAR rating lets you know that the door is energy-efficient and the NFRC label provides an in-depth analysis of the door’s energy performance. This will let you compare the door with other products that claim to have superior energy efficiency.
6. Your Door Is Ugly
Front doors are generally considered the focal point of your home, so having an unattractive, damaged, or weathered one may create an overall negative impression of your otherwise attractive exterior. If your front door doesn’t look as appealing as it used to — or it’s just plain ugly — you may want to consider an update.
Even if your door has no damage or defects, upgrading your door is an easy, cost-effective way to boost the curb appeal of your home without an extensive remodel. This can be as easy as replacing your old door with a new one in a more contemporary color or style. You can also customize your door with staining options, painting options, glazing options, transoms and sidelights. And when it comes to the hardware like handles, door knobs, and locksets, the options are nearly endless.
Front Door Materials
Once you’ve decided to update your front door, you’ll need to choose a material. Most doors consist of multiple materials — for instance, steel and fiberglass doors often have wood frames. But it is primarily the material on the surface that determines the door’s appearance, security, durability, and cost. Read below to learn more about the most common front door materials.
These durable, maintenance-free doors are a suitable option for humid or harsh climates. They imitate the appearance of wood with their wood-grain textures, and stains are available that resemble a variety of woods including cherry, oak, and walnut. Beneath the surface, there is a framework of rails and stiles, and polyurethane-foam insulation fills the voids in the framework.
Fiberglass composite doors are also quite affordable and come with generous warranties, with some of them lasting for as long as you live in your house.
If your biggest priorities are durability and security, a steel front door is a great choice. Steel models have more strength than fiberglass or wood doors and will never warp or crack. And if they sustain any dings or dents, you can easily pull and putty them using an auto-body repair kit.
Steel doors are also the most affordable. However, if you choose to add premium hardware and sidelights, the costs are similar to that of a wood door system.
Steel doors feature an inner wood or steel frame and the cavities within it contain dense foam insulation. They also tend to have a steel frame and 24-gauge skin, although some higher end doors have heavier-gauge steel such as 20-gauge or 22-gauge. The surface is typically smooth or features an embossed wood-grain pattern.
Steel doors are also generally coated using a polyester finish that is baked on, which you will have to repaint periodically. Higher-quality models feature a vinyl coating like those found on vinyl-clad windows, which provides better weather resistance. Some models even feature a coating of wood fiber or laminated wood veneer.
These doors typically come as a part of a pre-hung system. However, if you’re just planning on replacing the door, keep in mind that steel doors have hinges attached or predrilled holes to accommodate the hinges. So the hinges on your steel door must exactly line up with the hinge area on your existing frame. Certain models have an additional predrilled hole, which allows you to make small adjustments when hanging your door.
Doors made of aluminum consist of an insulation core covered in a metal skin. Aluminum doors are different from other door systems in that they can only be purchased through dealers. Every aluminum door is custom-built to fit your opening and a variety of color and style options are available. They feature an enamel finish that is baked on, which means that you’ll never have to paint them and they’ll never rust. It’s for this reason that warranties for aluminum doors are typically 20 years.
The light-weight construction and durability of aluminum doors make them the perfect option for storm doors.
Wood is a common material for residential front doors, with beauty and versatility being its greatest advantages. You can find custom wood doors and natural-finish stock in cherry, walnut, oak, maple, mahogany, pine, and fir. Paint-grade doors also come in softwood varieties including western hemlock and pine.
Stock wood doors usually consist of an engineered wood core covered in wood-veneer skins, a configuration that minimizes contraction and expansion, which can lead to warping. These doors are a more affordable alternative to solid wood doors. Make sure to look for a model with a furniture-grade veneer that is no thinner than 1/16 inch.
Solid wood doors are the most expensive, with hardwood being the most expensive type of solid wood. They are also high maintenance. Paint and stain fades over time, so wood doors need to be refinished every few years. Wood is a porous material, so they also do not provide the same energy efficiency as other materials. When searching for a good pre-finished wood door, make sure it has a clear finish and a durable stain. High-gloss sheens are best for painting doors. Regardless of the finish you pick, also apply it to the bottom and top edges — this way the wood door will not be able to absorb moisture, which can cause swelling.
Also, keep an eye out for intricate detailing. Generally speaking, the more intricate the moldings and carvings and the wider and thicker the rails and stiles, the higher-quality the door.
Contact Homespire Windows and Doors
If you’re ready to make an upgrade that will lower your energy costs, offer increased security, and boost the curb appeal of your home, Homespire Windows and Doors is the professional team you want to perform the installation. We operate throughout the Tri-State area, including Philadelphia, Central Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Northern Delaware, and Northern Maryland.We bring quality, comfort, and security to every home that we service.
Below are some benefits of our business that make usstand out from the rest:
- Highly customizable products: We offer a wide variety of customization options, including many glass, color, and hardware options, so you can easily make your front door match your preferred style. If you’d like, we can help you make some choices based on your home’s overall design and structure.
- Efficiency: We are partnered with the leading manufacturer ProVia to bring you reliable, high-quality doors. Every glass panel in your front door is made of multi-layered glass with metal oxides. This investment can do wonders for your energy efficiency, as it will help regulate the outdoor and indoor climate flow and can lower your energy bills by up to 35 percent.
- Safety: Our sturdy front doors will help protect you and your loved ones. We can add burglar guard security plates in your door, which will help protect against burglaries and other unwanted intrusions. Our front doors have received the highest possible residential security rating.
- Affordability: The cost of replacing a front door is not as exorbitant as you might imagine, and our helpful sales consultants are willing to find options that work best for you. It’s also important to consider the longevity of the investment — our products are exceptionally durable and long-lasting, which is why our warranties are the most comprehensive of any door company. You should also keep in mind that this valuable investment will boost your home’s curb appeal and resale value.
Learn more about our products, services, and warranties by speaking with one of our helpful representatives. You can reach us by calling 1-844-938-3832 or filling out our form, and a representative will come to your house to assess your door and discuss the replacement details.