TAMPA - You know what they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer group Angie's List , said the same is true for your home, too. “Your front door is what sets the first impression for most visitors to your home," she said. "But unfortunately over time that door can warp and crack and become less energy efficient.”
Your front door is a great way to increase curb appeal and if your door is more than 15 years old, chances are it's time to replace. “When considering installing a new door," Hicks said, "first you want to think about which style and what energy efficiency rating it might have to determine which door is going to be right for your house. Professional installation is going to be important. It may seem relatively simple to install a door but if done incorrectly it can cost you more money in your energy bills than the old door did."
Factors to consider when replacing an exterior door:
- Architecture: Decide what kind of look you want. If you live in an older home, it may not be architecturally sensitive to replace an entry door with a contemporary model.
- Durability: Because wooden doors are susceptible to rot and insects, fiberglass and steel are the materials of choice when longevity is an issue.
- Weather elements: Some exterior door materials do not stand up well to direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Is your door properly shielded from the elements via a porch roof or overhang?
- Safety: Doors in 24- or 25-gauge galvanized steel are considered to be the safest, especially for security. Steel doors are often fire-rated at 20, 45, 60 and 90 minutes.
- Energy efficiency: The door you choose can affect the energy efficiency of your home. If this is important to you, check whether the model you’re considering is a certified Energy Star door.
- On a budget? If you can’t budget a complete door installation, consider replacing the doors weatherstripping to improve the energy efficiency. The addition of a storm door is also an inexpensive investment if our existing door is still in good condition.
Angie’s List , the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated door installers about door materials. Doors come in many different types of materials. Each has their advantages/disadvantages:
- Wood: Many people like the authentic look of a wooden door for historic homes or country ranches. These doors can be also custom made. The trade-off comes in high maintenance. Wood doors should be repainted at least every two years to keep them from warping or splitting. If properly sealed, the material is extremely resistant to heat and cold from the outside. A single door can cost upwards of $500 or more.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass doors come in many styles even looking like real wood, with minimum upkeep. Although it feels light, fiberglass is actually very durable against intrusion and its foam core provides excellent insulation.
- Aluminum: 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.
- Steel: 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. Disadvantages to steel are mostly aesthetic; steel comes in fewer style options and can't replicate the look of wood.
Door company owner, Mark Spencer said “If you are considering a steel door, one important thing to keep in mind is the gauge of the steel. Just like everything is not equal, steel doors fall into the same category. And with steel doors you traditionally get 24, 25, or 22 gauge, sometimes even thicker. The thicker the skin, traditionally the better.”
If you find that your door is drafty but you don’t have the money to replace it right now, Hicks said consider replacing the weather stripping. "This is a pretty basic, even a do-it-yourself kind of project that can save you money every month on your heating and cooling bill.”
Some Angie’s List Tips on hiring a door installer:
- Check out the company: Do your research before hiring. How long has the company been in business? Get names of previous customers and find out if they were pleased with the work and the timeline of the project. If you have a historic home, work with someone who has experience to replace a door to match your home’s aesthetics.
- Hire a reputable installer: Installation is key for an exterior door. It’s critical that the door is hung and framed properly. If not installed properly, you’ll see air leakage which will lead