I often hear the question, “What kind of door do I need?”
When it is time to replace a door on your home you have many options and likely many questions. Our goal with this post is to provide a clear, yet concise, buying guide to help you choose the right door for your home. We will briefly touch on interior doors then focus on exterior doors for the bulk of this post. If you’re in the Brazos Valley, we provide interior and exterior door installation and are happy to help you with your project. And of course we build and install custom Barn Doors as well.
How to measure your front door.
There are rough opening dimensions, finished dimensions, etc. Thankfully residential door sizes are pretty much standardized throughout the industry. This means it’s as simple as measuring the width of the actual door.
I snapped this picture sitting at my desk in my wife’s new craft room. As you can see this is a 24″ door.
Pre-hung vs Slab Doors
There are two options when buying a new door. Slab or Pre-hung. A slab is just the door. It may come predrilled for a lock set or it may not. With a slab the hinges must be mortised and the door trimmed to fit the existing jamb. A pre-hung door is just that, a door that is “pre-hung” on a jamb. I always recommend purchasing a pre-hung door. The cost difference in negligible. In fact, I charge more to hang and fit a slab on an existing jamb than I do to remove and install a pre-hung door. With a pre-hung door you get a full “door unit” and everything lines up straight from the factory.
Interior Doors: Hollow Core vs Solid Core Doors
A “Hollow Core Door” is hollow and a “Solid Core Door” is solid. Glad I could clear that up!
Hollow core doors are lighter and cheaper both in quality and price. You can pick up a hollow core interior door off the shelf at any box store or building center. Your house most likely has hollow core doors.
A Solid Core Door is solid. This means it weighs more, about double from my guestimation. They also cost about double. The advantages are that a solid core door will take more abuse from your three year old super hero, block sound a lot better, and will also insulate better than a hollow door. The disadvantages are cost and availability. The 24″ door in the picture above is a solid core and is used as a passthrough from my shop to my wife’s craft room. We chose a solid core for the sound and insulation benefits. We had to special order the door and it took about 3 weeks to come in and cost about double.
Exterior Doors: Steel vs Fiberglass vs Wood
When it come to exterior doors there are a plethora of options: double doors, arched doors, doors with windows… you have a lot of options. Knowing the differences in cost, quality, and maintenance will help you make an informed decision.
Steel Doors – The Economy Option
Steel Doors are your basic option and the cheapest option for an exterior door. At my fixer upper, we’re slowly replacing our exterior doors with steel doors. Our house is in a “working class” neighborhood and it would be a poor return on investment to spend more money on a higher quality door. If you live in a “fancy” neighborhood going with a “cheap” steel door isn’t a great idea for resale purposes. The only real advantages of a steel door are the cost savings and being readily available.
[/caption]The downsides are as follows: They dent and scratch very easily, once they are dented it’s almost impossible to hide the dent. Other flaws like “ripples” are almost impossible to see until after you paint the door. The ultra flat factory primer makes it hard to spot these imperfections, but once you apply a semi-gloss paint EVERY flaw in the door stands out.
Steel doors have their place; cost savings, rentals, back doors, and starter homes for example, but I recommend going with a fiberglass door whenever possible.
I recommend you install fiberglass doors in your home. The cost difference varies from about $75 more than a basic steel door to upwards of $2000 for a wood-look premium fiberglass door like this one:
Fiberglass doors insulate better, don’t rust, and resist dings and dents better than steel doors. It’s definitely the way to go if you want the best door for your money. (Read our blog post about this door installation in Bryan TX.)
Absolutely nothing compares to the beauty of a real wooden door. I love them. This is a door I sanded down and refinished a year ago. Which brings us to the big downside of wood doors: maintenance.
I left this picture big so you could take it all in as you were scrolling down. What an amazing door! They are also very expensive. A prefinished solid wood door and a top of the line “wood-look” fiberglass door are about the same price. Now I will begrudgingly share with you the negatives of a real wood door… As I mentioned earlier, maintenance is the biggest draw back of a wood door. With the extremes in temperature, humidity, and the blistering summer heat you can expect to refinish your wood door every 7-10 years (prices change but refinishing a door like this runs about $450).
Here is what the above door looked like before I refinished it.
Thanks for reading all the way through. If you call the Brazos Valley home and need a door replaced or refinished send us a message and we will provide a free estimate.
For interior doors you have two main options: Cheap and available hollow core doors or expensive and special order solid core doors. Wood interior doors are also an option.
Exterior Doors have many options in three main categories:
- Steel Doors – Cheaper/lower quality. Good for rentals, back doors, the budget friendly option
- Fiberglass doors – Best value and quality. You simply get a lot better door for your money. I recommend fiberglass doors especially for the front door that everyone sees.
- Wood Doors – Unparalleled Beauty but High Maintenance…There’s a marriage joke in there somewhere but I’ve closed the door on jokes made in poor taste.
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our email list to get our monthly newsletter. I hate spam so we’ve made the unsubscribe button easy to find if you decide to opt-out!
Right Hand or Left Hand In-swing
I’ll be honest, this still confuses the heck out of me. I’ve lost count of how many doors I’ve installed (over 100 for sure) and I still have to re-enact opening the door or draw a picture for the guy at the store. Instead of trying to explain it to you and confusing us both, here’s a diagram I found.
My Favorite Locksets
I really like these keypad locks from Kwikset. They are easy to install and have an “auto-lock” feature. It’s nice to be able to text grandma the code instead of finding an extra key.