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Choosing Your Front Door: Costs and Materials

Last modified: 2022-07-26 | Approximate reading time 8 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

A front door serves as the focal architectural feature of a home's façade; the home's unique identity, and, more importantly, most likely bears your address and mailbox.

It is where people will knock to summon you and it is where you will greet your guests. It is entirely up to you to choose the door that welcomes and encloses your most precious moments, all the while taking into account the environment in which you live.

Anatomy of a Front Door

First and foremost, a front door must be able to securely close and be locked to create a barrier between you and the outside world, animals, and the rest. This exterior opening must also be insulated to prevent cold drafts from seeping into the home and preserve heat. Also, soundproofing is another important feature as it blocks outside noise and ensures the discretion of dwellers. And, not to mention, the decorative purpose adds a certain flair to your house.

A front door must also meet two security measures: protection against fire and intruders. Certain models are made to be more fire-resistant for an extended period of time. Flush fire doors are designed to withstand flames and decelerate airflow that would normally fuel the fire, which in turn minimizes damage. Reinforced or armoured doors can deter intruders, and according to statistics, 80% of robbers/intruders enter via the front door. 

It is recommended to have a lock installed that is compliant with ANSI/BHMA security standards and tempered or laminated glazing, certified CAN/CGSB-12. 1-M90. Door glazing is classified according to 3 classes: RC1, RC2, and RC3, based on their individual degree of resistance.

Various Front Doors Models

Are you on the hunt for a massive- and safe-looking door? Opt for a solid wood door. Is it too harsh or austere for your taste? Go for a half-glazed door that allows natural light flow. The thick and opaque aspects are conflicting with your need for a light and aesthetic vibe?

The full-length glass door, made safe due to the glass manufacturing process, will allow light to flood your home, like an additional window. You can always have your original front door reinforced. 

Front doors are available in various materials: steel, aluminum, PVC, fibreglass, and wood.

Steel Front Door

steel door_choosing your front door: cost and materials

Credit: Rona

Pros

The steel front door is highly cost-effective as it ensures an airtight seal that meets Energy Star standards. The double layer weatherstrip at the bottom of the door provides a thorough air- and water-tight seal. The steel door is made of galvanized sheet metal on the outside, and in regards to thickness, 22 gauge sheet metal is the thickest, 28 gauge the thinnest, which may be more prone to dents. 

This steel material has a rust-proof layer, which is applied before it is sold in stores. Its two-component acrylic polyurethane paint is ideal to withstand all 4 seasons while having a minimum 10-year warranty. And, galvanized sheet metal is low-maintenance. 

Maintenance-wise, use soap diluted in water and a sponge. Although this type of door is available in various hues, it can easily (and with little cost) be repainted. All you need to do is sand the surface beforehand and apply a layer of material-specific paint. 

Cons

Its wood base makes for its weakest feature as it may be more susceptible to warping over time. And, the cheaper models, with a styrofoam core instead of polyurethane, provide less insulation.

The average price range for a steel front door (basic to high-end door) is $300 to $1,800 (excluding installation).

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Aluminum Front Door

Pros

The aluminum front door is cost-effective and light. This option is highly recommended for individuals living in coastal regions, as it is rust-proof. Its unique combination of metal and glass makes it a sought-after design option, available in a variety of styles. Aluminum only requires seasonal maintenance. But, avoid using any harsh cleaners to prevent scratching the surface. Rinse with clean water and wipe with an absorbent towel.  

Cons

Compared to the steel door, this model provides less insulation, and since it is lighter, scratches quite easily and is less reliable.

The average price range for an aluminum front is between $1,440 to $2,400 (excluding installation).

PVC Front Door

Pros

The PVC front door is reliable since it is designed with an internal steel frame, providing great resistance against break-ins. Like the steel door, it is energy efficient and does not require a layer of paint. When needed, wash it with mild soap followed by a thorough rinse.

Cons

The downside with this type of door is that it cannot be paired with a magnetic weatherstrip, making it difficult to seal. Also, it can be easily dented.

The average price range of a PVC door (basic to high-end door) is $240 to $1,800 (excluding installation). 

Fibreglass Front Door

Pros

The fibreglass entry door is impact- and scratch-resistant. Compliant with Energy Star standards for home energy efficiency, however, it requires a lot of energy to produce, which is detrimental to the environment. The wood veneer lining creates an authentic wood finish, without the hassle of touch-ups. However, you can paint or stain it to your liking. And, similarly to steel and PVC doors, it is low-maintenance.  

Cons

Numerous advantages aside note that manufacturing this type of door is energy-intensive. This fact alone could prove to be a huge deterrent to eco-friendly buyers.

The average price range of a fibreglass front door is between $1,200 and $2,400 (excluding installation). 

Various Wood Species for a Front Door

wooden door_choosing your front door: cost and materials

Pros

The wooden front door is one for the books, and it gives off a certain timeless vibe to any home. Whether solid or veneer, this type of door is available in a variety of species, looks, and finishes. 

Give priority to wood species bearing the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) approval seal, which derives from responsibly managed forests.

Cons

However, wooden doors tend to warp over time, which in turn leads to the overall sealing aspect being less than perfect, and it requires more maintenance than any other type of door. Although most wooden doors are treated with insecticides, fungicides, and water repellents, yearly maintenance is still recommended; check for air seepage and water infiltration. Note that painting the woodwork in a lighter hue may help prevent the wood frame from expanding.

The average price range for a wooden front door is between $360 and $1,800 (excluding installation).

The different species of wood typically used for front doors are eastern cedar, red cedar, oak, pine, Douglas Fir, and exotic woods. Eastern cedar or white cedar is affordable and rot-proof, but it does have knots, which may give way and later cause the wood to split.

Red cedar, or western cedar, is more expensive, but also more resistant. Oak wood is resistant. Pinewood and Douglas fir are still widely used yet require a lot of maintenance. Teak, mahogany and wenge (tropical hardwood) are dense, solid, and very sturdy.    

To alter the colour of a wooden door, lightly sand it, remove the dust, and apply a top coat. If you are completely changing the colour, apply two coats of primer before painting with the colour of your choosing, as well as a good coat of varnish.     

Overview of Front Door Prices

Type of material Price Range(Excluding Installation)

Steel Front Door

$300 - $1,800

Aluminum Front Door

$1,440 - $2,400

PVC Front Door

$240 - $1,800

Fibreglass Front Door

$1,200 - $2,400

Wooden Front Door

$360 - $1,800

How to Replace a Front Door?

Regardless of the model and material you have chosen, refer to a professional when installing your front door to ensure that it is safe and that it will keep your home impervious. However, if you want to change your door, you can DIY it if you are sure that you can install it in accordance with these two essential criteria. The steps are as follows:

Remove the door by unscrewing the hinges, bottom up, and on the last screw, wedge something under the door to prevent it from tumbling down.

Remove the inside frame while locating the doorbell wire, other wires, and the door contact sensor for your alarm system so as not to cut them.

Using a saw or reciprocating saw fitted with a steel and wood combo blade, cut the doorframe. First cut the doorbell side and then the opposite side at the same height. Remove the bottom, sides, and top frames with a crowbar or flat bar.

Once the frame is removed, strip the insulation. To dispose of the dust and residue, use a shop vac because your home vacuum may be damaged in the process.

Carefully unwrap the new door and its frame. Pull everything out, carefully placing it upside down so as not to squish the weatherstripping.

red front door_choosing your front door: cost and materials

Photo: Kate Bunker

Position the frame in the provided opening. Wedge small pieces of wood (shims) next to the hinges on the outside of the frame. Use one-and-a-half-inch wide wood wedges. Use your level to make sure your frame is as straight as possible, both from the sides and from the outside.

Swap out one of the screws on each hinge with a 3 1/2 inch one, starting from the top of your frame for easier fitting.

Once the three screws are in place, if necessary, level everything in all directions using wedges. After everything is securely in place, swap out the second screw on each hinge for 3 1/2 inch screws. Mount the door in the frame.

Place wedges in between the frame and the structural frame, then in front of the strike plate, near the hinges and in the four corners. Make sure the space between the frame and your door is consistent throughout, gauge yourself, and adjust accordingly. Make sure you secure the frame by using three-and-a-half-inch screws instead of flat screws.

Once the frame is level and the door is in place, install the doorbell and alarm wires, handle, and lock.

Apply a first, second and third coat of low expansion urethane caulking from the inside out. If it spills over the edge, remove it as you go. Once dry, trim off any excess sealant.

Add aluminum moulding to conceal the yellow urethane. For added protection, fasten a piece of wood under the moulding. Nail the sides first, then the top.

Caulk with Flextra-type caulking. Dip your finger in soapy water and smooth out the product. Wait 48 hours.

From the inside, make sure everything is level with your wall using pine wood strips. Then, mount the sides and top of the interior frame.          

How to Make Your Front Door More Inviting?

Once you have chosen your front door, material and all, and it has been mounted, and embedded into your home’s façade, the next step is to make it your own!

Head to your nearest big box or hardware store, and choose amongst an array of accessories: raised mouldings, grooves, glass or metal inlays, numbers, mailboxes, and light fixtures.

small house with white front door_choosing your front door: cost and materials

Photo: Michel G.

If you have a stone house, why not opt for a medieval-style entryway with a massive iron handle and a colourful stained glass window combo? For Halloween, you can dress up as Little John, and hand out candy, while your kids are carefree as Robin Hood, Marianne, or Friar Tuck!    

Photo: BEV Norton

Author: RMP. Updated by: Karine Dutemple

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