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6 Tips For Buying Exterior Doors

By on Mar 21, 2016
6 Tips For Buying Exterior Doors

Getting the perfect door for your home is extremely important. It can improve your home’s curb appeal, energy efficiency and value. You want a door that will make you proud!

With all of the options available, buying a door can become overwhelming. Don’t worry though, here’s a few tips for buying exterior doors so you can find the perfect one for your home.

Damaged Door

1. Is It Time to Replace Your Door?

You’ll first need to determine whether or not your exterior door needs to be replaced. Physical damage such as cracks, warping, rotting, holes and scratches are easy to see. A simple inspection of both the inside and outside of your exterior door will show you all of the physical damage. You’ll need to determine whether or not it’s bad enough to warrant a new door. Usually rotting and warping are clear signs you’ll need a replacement.

Also, check if your exterior door is allowing a draft to enter your home. This can be done by performing the flame test. Hold a lit candle, match or lighter close to your door and move it around. Watch the flame very closely. If the flame begins to flicker, you found a draft.

If your door is allowing a draft, your heating and cooling systems are working harder to achieve your desired temperature. It can cost you hundreds of dollars extra each year. A new, energy efficient exterior door will lower your utility bills and make your home more comfortable year round.

French Patio Door

2. Understanding Door Terminology

When discussing exterior doors, there are a few terms tossed around that you should understand. It’s important to know what they mean so you can get the right door for your home. Here are a few to know.

  • Lite: Glass in the door
  • Caming: Strips of metal used for joining segmented glass
  • Casing/trim: Molding that surrounds your door frame
  • Stop: Strip of wood around the entire inside of the door that prevents the door from swinging too far
  • Panels: Rectangular patterns on the door used for show
  • Inswing: A door that opens in
  • Outswing: A door that opens out
  • Left Handed: Hinges are on the right side of the door
  • Right Handed: Hinges are on the left side of the door

3. Create A Great First Impression with Your Entry Door

The first thing guests see when entering your home is your entry door. It’s also the last thing they’ll see when leaving. Make a great first impression and lasting memory with a beautiful entry door. Getting your dream door starts with finding one made from the right material.

What your door is made from makes a difference. Entry doors can be made out of different materials that bring different features to the table. Whether you’re looking for elegant looks, superior durability or fantastic energy efficiency, there is a door perfect for you.

Pay the Price For Elegance: Wood Doors

Exterior doors made from wood give your home a traditional and elegant look that is sure to improve your home’s curb appeal. Being a heavy material, wood doors are sturdy and secure.

That being said, wood doors are very expensive and costly to maintain. To preserve their elegant look, you’ll need to stain them often. Warping and rotting are also common problems that people experience with wooden exterior doors.

Steel Doors: Nothing is Stronger

If you’re looking for superior security and durability, then steel doors are the perfect entry door for you. Many are made from 24-gauge steel and they’re harder to kick in and difficult to dent or bend. Steel doors are also resistant to fire, warping and cracking.

In addition to being sturdy, steel doors are also energy efficient. They can be foam-filled to maximize your home’s energy efficiency which will save you money on your utility bills.

Fiberglass Doors: The Best of Both Worlds

With the many wood grain options of a fiberglass entry door, you’ll have the elegance of a wood door without breaking the bank. Fiberglass is also very easy to maintain meaning you won’t have to spend additional money each year to maintain your fiberglass door.

Fiberglass doors are energy efficient as well. The foam insulation will save you money on your heating and cooling bills while keeping your home comfortable no matter what weather comes your way.

Patio Door

4. Don’t Forget A Beautiful Patio Door

An entry door isn’t the only exterior door on your home. Patio doors exit to your backyard, deck or patio and can set the tone of your home both inside and out. There are a couple of popular patio door styles from which to choose.

Sliding patio doors are a great way to let light into your room and control air ventilation. Since they don’t swing open, they’re perfect for any room and won’t take up too much space. They’re also very easy to open and close due to their sliding track.

Swinging patio doors change the dynamic of a room. They open by swinging inward or outward from your home on a hinge. With their lever handle, they’re easy to open and close. 

If space permits, French patio doors would be a gorgeous center piece for your entire room. They have two swinging panels. French patio doors can be customized with any wood grain and have the ability to swing inwards or outwards. They allow light into your home and you can also control air circulation with them.

5. Storm Doors Are An Exterior Door’s Best Friend

If you’re looking for extra protection for your exterior doors or even greater insulation, then storm doors are a great addition to your entryway. 

Storm doors create a barrier between the elements and your exterior door. This will protect your entry door from rain, snow, hail and wind to keep it looking its best.

That barrier also saves you money on your utility bills by adding more insulation to your home. The elements now have another layer of protection to get through while it’s more difficult for your home’s heat or air to escape.

6. Optional Hardware Can Enhance Your Exterior Doors

Hardware is a great way to complete the look or improve the functionality of your exterior door. Here are door hardware recommendations you’ll want to check out.

Doorbells & Locks

Most homeowners have a lock and doorbell for their entry door. It’s common sense why you would need both of them. Much like everything else in the world, they’re becoming “smart.” Smart doorbells and locks are becoming more popular with homeowners for their conveniences and added safety measures.

Decorative Glass, Sidelights & Transoms

If you're looking to allow more light into your home, then you can have a decorative glass installed in your exterior door. There are many patterns of glass to choose from and you have the option to add grids.

If you don’t want to have a window installed in your door and your entryway allows it, you have the option of sidelights and transoms. Sidelights are found on the left, right or both sides of your exterior door.

Transoms, on the other hand, are found above your door. They can be rectangular, square or semi-circular.

Handles, Knockers & Mail Slots

There are other small accessories you can add or change that will affect the performance and aesthetics of your exterior door. You can change your door handle to a knob or different style of handle. There are also different materials, such a brass and bronze, that you can choose. 

Knockers and mail slots can also be added. While most homeowners already have traditional have doorbells and mailboxes, adding a knocker or mail slot can create a more unique look for your door.


You’re ready for a beautiful replacement door. Replacing your exterior doors is no small task. You’ll want one that is secure, durable, energy efficient and makes a statement about you. We’ve given you the knowledge you need to be an expert and to make an informed decision about buying your new door.

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