Angie's LIST Guide to
Doors

Your home's front door does more than just protect you from cold and burglars. It's the first think visitors see when they come to your house. Chances are, you'll never change your interior doors, but an upgraded entry door is a good investment.
 

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exterior doors
An exterior door will help guard against intruders and weather elements. It can also help boost curb appeal. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Daniel B.)
 
 

Entry doors

A home’s front door is the first exterior door that visitors and residents see, and it is the most commonly used exterior door in most houses. That means that aesthetic concerns must be taken into account along with sturdiness and durability. Homeowners should choose a door that makes an excellent first impression without sacrificing any safety features. A front door that looks great but cannot deter intruders or resist the wind is not a good investment.

Today, many different materials are used to manufacture front doors. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. These are the major options:

Wood — Wood remains one of the most popular materials used to build doors. Solid wood doors are the most expensive in this category, and a single door can cost upwards of $500 or more. Solid wood doors are also sturdier than stock wood doors, and they are available in oak, maple, pine, cherry, walnut and other beautiful woods. Solid wood doors can have intricate carvings that enhance their beauty without sacrificing their durability. Unfortunately, they may also warp, but staining or painting their edges can prevent this problem.

A stock wood door that consists of a core of engineered wood covered by a furniture grade veneer is also a popular choice. These doors are less prone to warping, and they are less expensive than solid wood doors. The veneer can damage easily, however. Some manufacturers make similar doors but with insulated cores that make them more efficient at keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Composite — Many homeowners in humid regions or in areas where unforgiving weather is common choose a fiberglass-composite front door. Such doors are highly resistant to warping and wear. Fiberglass-composite doors are inexpensive, about $200 or so, and they last a long time. Many manufacturers will even guarantee a fiberglass-composite door for as long as a homeowner owns the home. As their name indicates, fiberglass-composite doors are made of a combination of wood, fiberglass and other materials.

Aluminum — Aluminum doors must be custom built, which makes them cost more than their steel door cousins. Homeowners will spend at least $600 on a good aluminum door, but they should also realize that many aluminum door manufacturers offer warranties of up to twenty years on their doors. Aluminum doors have an enamel finish that does not rust or need repainting, and they consist of an inner core covered by an aluminum skin.

painted front door
A colorful front door can brighten up any landscape and add originality to any home. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Lars O.)

Steel — Steel doors are a homeowner’s best bet for security, as they are stronger than any other front door option. Steel doors always contain cores made of wood or steel within a steel frame and skin. These doors usually need to be repainted frequently, but they are the least expensive of all the common front door options. Homeowners can get a basic steel front door for less than $200.

No matter the type of material used to construct the front door, a well-made exterior door on the front of a house should last a lifetime if it is properly shielded from the elements via a porch roof or overhang. Homeowners should also buy the door, frame and other system components from the same manufacturer when they want to install a complete entry system.

Other exterior door options

stained glass front door
Decorative elements, such as stained glass, can be embedded into doors and provide a unique look to the door. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Terry H.)

Decorative glass

When choosing the front door itself, homeowners also have many options to improve the appearance of their door and home. For instance, glass panes can be embedded in the door, and decorative patterns can be carved into the door and the entire door-and-frame system. Glass panes allow more light into the home, but they also diminish privacy in the entryway. There are also added security concerns because the glass can be broken, but break-ins can be prevented when security glass is used in the door construction. Knockers, doorknobs and other similar elements come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes and colors, so there is almost no limit to the ways that a front exterior door can be customized to fit a home.

Storm doors and screen doors

Homeowners who want to increase the life of their exterior doors do well to add storm or screen doors to their front doors and other exterior doors. A storm or screen door is an additional door that is placed in front of another door on the same frame and jamb, thereby providing additional protection for the main exterior door.

These doors typically have a screen or glass panel that keeps out bugs, animals and the elements so that the exterior doors behind these storm doors can be left open.

Storm doors and screen doors are typically made of wood, aluminum or fiberglass, and the pros and cons of these materials are the same as when they are used for front doors and other exterior doors. The most popular storm doors are full-view storm doors and ventilating storm doors.

A full-view storm door consists mainly of a glass panel that can be changed out for a screen depending on the season of the year. A ventilating storm door includes a glass panel and a screen. The glass panel can be moved to allow air to pass through the screen, or the glass panel can be closed. Such doors are more easily converted to screen doors than the full-view doors, which require homeowners to remove and replace the glass panel with a screen when they want to convert the door from a storm door to a screen door.

Pet doors

Dog and cat owners should definitely consider adding a pet door to at least one exterior door so that their animals can exit and enter their homes on their own. Normally, these pet doors consist of a flap that is hinged at the top and inserted in the exterior door or wall. The pet can easily pass through this door, which means that the homeowner does not have to make sure he or she is at home to give the pet access to the outdoors.

These doors can allow other creatures to enter a home as well, which is why most standard pet doors can be locked from the inside. This requires homeowners to make sure the door stays locked and unlocked at the proper times. Homeowners who want less worry can choose doors with magnetic locks that are opened via a key placed in a pet’s collar. Yet raccoons have been known to get through even these doors. That is why one of the best options for a secure pet door is a motorized door with an infrared sensor. This kind of pet door will open only when the right animal, wearing the right infrared collar, approaches the door.

Interior doors

french doors
French doors provide separation between interior rooms while allowing light to travel throughout the house. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Frederick C.)

Due to the fact that exterior doors also double as security features, homeowners tend to give a lot of thought and consideration when selecting them. Interior doors are important too, and it pays to take your time when shopping for them. There's a dizzying array of options out there for interior doors. To get a handle on what's available, take a look at the following information.

Interior doors vs. exterior doors

For many practical reasons, the construction of interior doors differs a great deal from that of exterior doors. One very notable difference is that interior doors are typically a lot less expensive than their exterior counterparts. Additional differences include:

  • Exterior doors have to be weatherproofed. They must be strong enough to keep out cold air, moisture and other elements. This isn't an issue with interior doors, which don't have to be as strong.
  • Interior doors tend to have lighter constructions than exterior doors.
  • Heavy-duty finishes are par for the course with exterior doors. Many times, strong stains and weatherproof paints are used. Interior doors aren't exposed to the elements, so a lighter touch can be used.
  • Strong locks are mandatory for exterior doors. Interior doors typically don't have locks. When they do, they are simple.
  • Things to Consider when Buying New Interior Doors

There are many options in terms of price, design and quality when it comes to interior doors, which is why shopping for them can be so confusing. To get an idea about how much you can expect to pay for various styles, and to learn more about the available options, these points can help:

  • You can get a basic, hollow, engineered wood door for less than $50. A hollow door made out of real wood will cost around $115, while a solid, real wood door will cost around $225.
  • Bi-fold doors, which are commonly used in closets and pantries, cost between $50 and $100 on average.
  • The average price for a set of sliding doors is $200, but that amount can be a lot higher or lower depending on the material and style of the doors.
  • Double pre-hung doors, which are convenient and versatile, cost between $300 and $400.
  • Lightweight louvered doors typically cost around $75 to $100.
  • In terms of hardware, prices vary a lot depending on material. Popular options include satin nickel, bronze, brass and chrome.
  • You can switch up the appearance of a door by using different types of handles. Knobs are popular, but levers are nice options too. Dummy levers can be used for doors that push or pull open and closed

Other interior door options

While standard doors are used for bedrooms and other normal rooms, unique opportunities are available for spaces like pantries, laundry rooms, closets and similar areas. You can really dress up the style of your home by using unique interior doors in such situations. A few great examples include:

  • By-pass sliding doors - If you're dealing with a very small space but need to close it in with a door, a by-pass sliding door may be right for you. In this situation, one panel slides over another. The opening is only half of what it would otherwise be, though, so it may not be right in some scenarios.
  • Multi-fold doors - These accordion-style doors are extremely versatile. They are available in materials like plastic, wood and cloth, so there's no end to the possibilities. Use them to cordon off one area of a small room or to cover up large openings without spending a fortune.
  • Pocket doors - This is another great option for space-challenged areas. The sliding door tucks away into a pocket that's hidden in the wall. When it's open, there's no door blocking the way at all. This style involves a little extra legwork, so installation may be more expensive.
  • Bi-fold doors - These doors are traditionally used for closets, but they can be used for pantries and laundry rooms as well. When open, they take up less space than traditional doors. Make sure to choose doors that have sturdy, strong hardware.
  • Swinging doors - Doors like these are often associated with saloons and cafes. They are a lot of fun, but they shouldn't be used in areas that get a lot of foot traffic. The constant swinging open and closed can create problems and compromise the durability of these doors.

You also don't necessarily have to buy brand-new interior doors for your home. To give your home a more unique look, you should shop around for interior doors that have been salvaged from old homes. It's true that they just don't make doors like they used to, so you can score a durable, attractive door for a lot less by handling things this way. Old doors can be sanded down and given new coats of paint to achieve stunning results.

Another option is to use antique doorknobs on new doors. It's amazing what a difference the right doorknob or other hardware can make to the appearance of a door. Shopping for antique doorknobs and door handles is a lot of fun too. In some cases, special steps may have to be taken to make an antique doorknob work with a new door.

While interior doors may not have to pull double-duty like exterior doors do, they are important parts of any home. From selecting the right hardware to choosing the style that's right for any given room, it never hurts to consider all your options when looking for new interior doors.

Comments

I have been specializing in installing, replacing, and fine tuning doors in the Baton Rouge area for the last
35 years. I do not see any listing for doors in your list. I don't even see listing for the Baton Rouge area.

Hi, this is Katie with Angie's List. Thanks for your comment! We do have listings for Baton Rouge door installers. General listings for service providers in the Baton Rouge area can be found here.

I am evicting my tenants on August 29th the sheriff will be there and they ask me to have a locksmith to change the locks. It is a private home

Whom should I call to replace the decorative glass on my entry door?

Hi Tu,

When it comes to glass, it's best to call in the experts. A glass installer will know the right kind and have the right know-how to properly replace the decorative glass on your entry door. You can find a glass replacement specialist in your area here: http://www.angieslist.com/glass-and-mirrors/

Im trying to figure out who, and how to change from a back single door to french doors. And what a price without getting ripped off.

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