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. 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. They tend to warp, but staining or painting their edges can prevent this.
A stock wood door with a core of engineered wood covered by a furniture grade veneer is also popular. These doors are less prone to warping and are less expensive than solid wood doors. The veneer can damage easily, however. Some manufacturers make similar doors with insulated cores that make them more efficient at keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Composite — 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 many aluminum door manufacturers offer warranties of up to 20 years on their product. Aluminum doors have an enamel finish that does not rust or need repainting, and they have an inner core covered by an aluminum skin.
Steel — Steel doors are a homeowner’s best bet for security because they are stronger than any other front door option. Steel doors have a core 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.