Shopping for sustainable doors

February 29, 2012

Take a look at sustainable, efficient windows and doors: Prices may be lower than you thought. The cost shouldn't automatically scare you away from beginning a replacement project with a green heart. Environmentally friendly doors are not an altogether new concept, and prices have dropped.

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Let's begin with a general consensus that any door must perform outstanding duty in reducing a heat or cold interaction between your home's interior and the outdoors. But what makes a door sustainable as well as efficient? You need to consider how the materials are harvested and manufactured into a solid, insulating door.

Door materials come first

For centuries, some countries have relied on bamboo for front and side doors that cost pennies and reflect the use of one of the most renewable forests on earth. Now, when homeowners are concerned about both energy savings and home security, a traditional bamboo door from Thailand may not suffice.

Given the great range of door types on the market, you can look for a sustainable model that fits your style while serving your energy conservation needs. Fiberglass, wood-clad steel or painted steel are sustainable, rugged and efficient if you select a model filled with a polyurethane foam core. Masonite molded doors are another option: They're produced with highly renewable wheat straw.

If you choose wood materials and are green-conscious, you should shop for products that come with certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). You can find a selection of colors and patterns in sustainably harvested mahogany, bamboo and other sources. Be sure to ask if your product employs formaldehyde free synthetic resins or paints.

Steel is durable and a good choice for a cold climate. Steel may make you feel secure, but in and of itself, it is not necessarily a sustainable material. Look into steel products for windows and doors: Prices may look tempting, but you need to consider other factors as well if you want eco-friendly materials. If you do your research, you can find a steel door manufacturer that uses a considerable amount of recycled content.

Finally, fiberglass may seem the least sustainable product on the market, but that is not necessarily true, since this material can be recycled. Fiberglass also offers a high level of energy insulation for its weight.

Why green your door?

According to the GreenYour website, "salvaging one million board feet of reusable lumber from an old warehouse can offset the need to harvest one thousand acres of forest."

But there's more to do to make even a sustainable door work for you. Be sure to seal everything properly. This includes using expanding foam caulking to patch any spaces between the frame and wall, and installing insulating tape or high-performance stripping around the door.

With a new sustainable door, you can sleep secure with the knowledge you're doing your part to cut energy use while protecting your investment in your home.

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