There are countless areas in which size really doesn’t make a difference. These days, however, the entryway to your house isn’t one of them, according to architects and designers. When it comes to doors, they say, bigger really is better.
For this reason, entry-door manufacturers increasingly make products that reach as high as 12 feet and designs that they say provide more expansive views without adding to the size of your door. Longer warranties on certain wood doors make them an increasingly attractive buy. Meanwhile, the grandest news about steel doors is the increased value in the event that you sell your house.
SUPERSIZED. Options for larger doors, wider views, longer warranties and higher returns on investment mean that you’ll have bigger decisions to make these days when you shop for a new entry door. First, you’ll have to decide whether to keep your current door height or trade up for one of the many new, readily available 7- and 8-foot models. You also will face a tougher decision between fiberglass and wood, because the increased durability and longer warranties of some wood doors make them more competitive with fiberglass. If those options don’t ring your doorbell, then you might elect simply to go with the material that provides the best return on investment—steel.
According to the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, which tracks and compares the effects of home-improvement projects on resale values, the return on steel doors increased to 102 percent from 73 percent over the past 4 years. In other words, if you were to spend $1,230 on a new steel entry door (including labor), you can expect that new door to add $1,252 to the value (and sales price) of your house. In contrast, the return on fiberglass doors, which often cost twice as much as steel, is 73 percent. (Wood wasn’t evaluated.)
If you choose to go with a steel door, you’ll be far from alone, because 49 percent of all entry doors that are purchased these days are made of steel, according to American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s 2013/2014 study of the U.S. market.
However, don’t think that wood-door manufacturers are forfeiting their piece of the pie to fiberglass doors that copy their aesthetics but pair them with lifetime warranties. (Warranties on wood doors typically are 5 years or less.) Instead, at least two wood-door manufacturers tell us that they made improvements that make their doors more durable, which prompted the manufacturers to increase the warranty periods for those products compared with the conventional warranty length.
Understanding the Anatomy of a Door
In February 2015, Simpson Door introduced an option that it dubbed WaterBarrier, which adds a thin layer of medium-density overlay (MDO) material over the exterior surface of its wood doors as well as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) glazing beads (the molding that runs around the perimeter of the glass). This combination makes its wood doors more durable and water-resistant, the company says.
Three wood and materials experts tell us that MDO is a proven material for outdoor use and moisture resistance. Based on the adhesives and methods (heat-applied phenolic resins) that Simpson uses to affix the MDO to its doors, the experts with whom we consulted believe that those doors should be more durable than are those that are made of just wood. Consequently, Simpson extended the warranty on doors that include WaterBarrier to
5 years from 1 year. The WaterBarrier option costs $100–$250 (depending on door size and style). Doors that can be treated with WaterBarrier start at $400.
Nonetheless, if you have your heart set on wood (instead of fiberglass that resembles wood), adding WaterBarrier to a Simpson door might be like purchasing a life insurance policy for the underlying wood. You should know that you’ll be able to enjoy real-wood aesthetics only on the interior of the door, however, because the exterior is concealed by MDO, which comes primed but has to be painted.
If you want to have increased durability and wood aesthetics inside and out, you could always purchase a standard wood door and bake it in an oven—sort of. That’s more or less what Lemieux Doors, which is now a Masonite brand, does with its line of torrefied (heat-treated) wood, which was introduced in April 2012.