Tom Shafer

Knock, knock: transformative entrance doors

October 03, 2011

Transforming your home's exterior and attracting neighbors, passersby and potential buyers can be as simple as replacing an old, dented front door with a beautiful entry door that includes designer glass. Changing entrance doors is one of the least expensive home renovations, so why not make the best impression possible?

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Leaded glass entrance door

Custom entrance door with leaded glass

Entrance doors come in three primary materials: steel, fiberglass and wood.

Steel doors

Two sheets of embossed steel form the inside and outside skins of a steel entrance door. The frame is made of either one- to two-inch wood or oriented strand board (OSB). A block of 6- to 7-inch-by-12- to 14-inch wood is added in the area of the lock and deadbolt to give it strength.

Between the steel skins, a foam core provides good quality insulating value and a firm base for the steel. These doors take most types and colors of paint.

One drawback to steel doors is that they can dent when abused and sometimes warp from extreme temperatures; however, steel is an economical choice for good looks and functionality.

Fiberglass doors

Fiberglass doors consist of a sheet of molded fiberglass and a frame that is essentially the same as that of a steel door. They are fabricated with either a smooth surface or a simulated wood-texture grain.

Fiberglass doors can be stained or painted in most of the same colors as wood doors, and design styles mimic those of traditional doors crafted from wood. Unlike steel doors, fiberglass doors do not warp or dent, but they are more expensive than steel.

Wood doors

The most traditional material for entrance doors, and still one of the most popular, is wood. Because of their popularity, wood doors come in the widest choice of designs--from Colonial to the retro look of the 1950s, to today's contemporary designs. Wood doors, however, are also the most expensive.

Maintenance is one of their biggest disadvantages. They must be stained and sealed, or painted periodically to resist damage from exposure to water and intense sun.

Glass accents for elegance

What really makes doors elegant and gives them superior curb appeal is the inclusion of designer glass. Often referred to as leaded glass because it's held together by lead "came," the glass comes in various textures, colors and degrees of opacity. The came is available in brass, silver, pewter or a darkened patina. Designs are unique to each door manufacturer and material.

Any of the doors can also be dressed up with the addition of side lites in a variety of widths, and/or square or elliptical transoms above the door. Side lites and transoms have glass with the same or similar designs as leaded glass.

Why keep waiting for opportunity to knock? Replace your uninviting entryway door, and opportunity might make a grand entrance.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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