Superhero of home improvement ROI: door of steel

March 19, 2012

Steel entry door replacements lead the nation in a return on remodeling investment, according to Remodeling magazine. In comparing the cost to the added value of 35 mid-range home improvement projects for 2011-2012, the magazine found that investing $1,238 for a steel entry door netted a $903 return in value -- or 73 percent ROI.

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The magazine's annual Cost vs Value Report cited a replacement door with a new 20-gauge steel unit. The winning door project included a half-glass dual-pane panel, composite stop and aluminum frame. The factory-finished steel entry doors were fitted with a new lock in a brass or antique-brass finish.

Steel doors, protection and energy efficiency

While steel may not automatically come to mind as an energy-efficient material for entry door replacements, it ranks high when the door includes a foam core. Home Depot gives high marks for steel, noting how well the core insulation blocks heat loss. The retailer says the materials, unlike those used in wooden doors, resist warping and cracking. Steel entry doors come with 20- or 90-minute fire-rating designs, and The Power Home Remodeling Group rates steel entry doors as the most energy-efficient option, with durability suited to the harshest weather conditions.

Buying steel doors

The strongest steel doors typically come in 24- or 25-gauge, galvanized steel. You'll find products that come with wood fiber coatings that allow you to paint them or doors that come with laminated veneers. There are steel doors with baked-on polyester finishes that need repainting over time. Or you can choose from models with an embossed, wood-grain pattern that looks like the real thing -- without the drawbacks.

Steel is still the least expensive door among the alternatives of wood, aluminum, fiberglass and composite doors. However, you may find that prices rise when you add premium hardware or sidelites. Steel doors are available with from one to four panels, camber tops and glass lites. You can choose up to 12 lites in a range of styles. Masonite sells its steel entry doors with 20-year warranties.

Other mid-range projects that fared well -- though not as well as the entry doors -- in the Cost vs. Value report include attic bedroom conversions, wood deck additions, garage door replacements and minor kitchen remodels. Among upscale home improvements, the best percentages for ROI went to new fiber cement siding and vinyl window replacements.

At a time when many homeowners are only willing to invest in durable or energy-efficient home improvements, steel door replacements offer a track record of resilience, value and energy efficiency.

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