Upgrade your front door

Making the change can boost home's value, save on electric bill


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If your door is more than 15 years old, chances are it's time to replace.

Your front door is a great way to increase curb appeal, but you want to choose a door that is tough enough to withstand the elements, is energy efficient, but also compliments your home's architectural style.

A front door that looks great but cannot deter intruders or stand up to the elements is not a good investment. Angie's List asked highly rated door companies about today's materials and installation.

Common door materials:

  • Wood: Solid wood doors are sturdier than stock wood doors, and they are available in oak, maple, pine, cherry, walnut and other beautiful woods. Solid wood doors can have intricate carvings that enhance their beauty without sacrificing their durability. Unfortunately, they may also warp, but staining or painting their edges can prevent this problem. A single door can cost upwards of $500 or more. A stock wood door that consists of a core of engineered wood covered by a furniture grade veneer is also a popular choice. These doors are less prone to warping, and they are less expensive than solid wood doors. The veneer can damage easily, however. Some manufacturers make similar doors but with insulated cores that make them more efficient at keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • Composite: Many homeowners in humid regions or in areas where unforgiving weather is common choose a fiberglass-composite front door. Such doors are highly resistant to warping and wear. Fiberglass-composite doors are inexpensive, about $200 or so, and they last a long time. Many manufacturers will even guarantee a fiberglass-composite door for as long as a homeowner owns the home. As their name indicates, fiberglass-composite doors are made of a combination of wood, fiberglass and other materials.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum doors must be custom built, which makes them cost more than their steel door cousins. 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: Steel doors are a homeowner's 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.

Buying Tip: No matter the type of material used to construct the front door, a well-made exterior door on the front of a house should last a lifetime if it is properly shielded from the elements via a porch roof or overhang. Homeowners should also buy the door, frame and other system components from the same manufacturer when they want to install a complete entry system.

Upgrading your front door is one of the simplest and cost-effective ways to improve your home's curb appeal. If your budget is tight, here are three easy ways to open the door to a fresh look:

  • Try a new coat of paint: If every door on your block is beige or gray, a simple coat of paint on the front door can make your home stand out. A quart of exterior paint costs less than $20 and comes in a wide variety of colors and weather-resistant options.
  • Add glass: If your door is in good shape, you can upgrade the look by adding decorative glass.
  • Replace old hardware: Hardware can be anything from door handles to mail slots, kick plates or house numbers above the entryway. If your hardware is outdated, rusty or doesn't match the overall aesthetic of your home, it may be time for a change. Most hardware can be purchased for less than $20 and installed in the space of a few hours.
  • Keep it clean: Even the best-looking doors don't impress if they aren't clean. Rain, mud, snow, dust and spider webs all diminish your home's curb appeal. A good sweeping of the entryway area, followed by a simple scrubbing with soap and water, can bring a dreary entry back to life and draw all eyes to your door.

  • Angie's List Tips: Hiring a door installer

    • 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 to higher heating and cooling bills. If you have a historic home, work with someone who has experience to replace a door to match your home's aesthetics.
    • How much is that? Prices vary from $200 to several thousand dollars depending on size, material, style and glass options.
    • Ask about the warranty: Before you sign anything, ask and understand the details surrounding the installation and service warranty. If your door starts to warp within a certain amount of time who is responsible?