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Guide to Picking Out a Good Door

A complete guide to choosing the perfect doors for your home

The door is one of the most important elements of home design, whether viewed from inside or out. Finding a quality door can be difficult, but it's an undertaking worth quite a bit of effort. The right door will provide design focus, beauty, and appropriate security to the home, but the wrong door can prove a nettlesome problem.

The first question is simply what function will the door serve? A door requires sturdy, long wearing construction and an appropriate aesthetic appeal, as doors are featured throughout any home. Good door materials include heavy wood, engineered wood, steel, glass, or fiberglass construction, and all will serve well for many years.

To pick out the right look for your home consult a good architect, delve into architectural magazines, or get some books on art composition and design.

Pick your Doors for Function

Doors should be picked out according to the function they will serve. For instance, a front door and a back door may have two totally different sets of requirements, and both are different still from an interior door. Exterior doors should always have secure fastenings and sufficiently sturdy construction to stand up to the elements as well as providing security to the inhabitants of a home. Interior doors, on the other hand, should be light enough for all family members to handle easily, and aesthetic appeal can take the place of stoutness in homeowner priorities.

Metal Doors

Steel or metal construction has been used for years as an energy efficient and sturdy option for exterior and interior doors alike. Metal doors can be either solid construction or hollow core, depending on the desired placement and job. Foam core doors are probably best for exterior doors, as they come with a sturdy wood or steel frame and foam filling, while hollow core doors are a relatively inexpensive option for interior doors that are sturdy enough to stand up to hard use for years. In the past, metal doors were not terribly aesthetically appealing, but that is changing as new technology becomes available. If metal is used, take care to properly maintain it, as metal does corrode when not properly sealed.

Wooden Doors

Wooden doors have been an old standby for centuries of architecture. Also coming in solid or hollow core options, wooden doors have been the benchmark and gold standard for beauty and aesthetic appeal in home design. Again, solid doors are probably best for exterior placement, while hollow core or engineered wood doors are so efficient that most contractors use them as a matter of course. Wooden doors require occasional oiling or sealing.

Glass as a Door Option

When it is used, glass is most often featured as a back door option, although lovely cut-glass front doors are an option as well. Glass is wonderful for large back doors, as it leaves the view into the backyard or garden unobstructed. Front doors made of glass are equally beautiful, but some care should be taken to ensure both privacy and durability. Cut glass panels set into wooden frames are a frequent and beautiful option for front doors. Glass doors, of course, must occasionally be cleaned to remove finger and hand prints.

Fiberglass doors, a recent addition to door materials, have improved so much that it can be extremely hard to tell the difference between a fiberglass door and a wooden one. These doors are sturdy, well constructed, and extremely strong. They are also maintenance free beyond an occasional wipe-down, and improve home insulation.

Action Steps
The best contacts and resources to help you get it done

  • Get a good design!
    The best door in the world is useless if it looks bad in your home. Look around for good resources for design.

    I recommend: Look for a local architect or read architectural magazines, while collecting clippings of what you think looks good.
  • Pick out the right door!
    Find the perfect door for your home.

    I recommend: Evaluate your home, climate, and area carefully to decide which of the material and design options you most want to use. Find a provider and installer of quality doors.

Tips & Tactics

Helpful advice for making the most of this Guide

Look at your lifestyle and decide precisely what you want out of your door. If you want visual access to a beautiful view, obviously a glass door is a good idea, and so on.

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