You've been thinking about a new entry door since you bought your home and yikes, that was a few years ago. Maybe you found a door you like, but have no idea where to find one like it? You love your old house and the front door tells a story. You'd love one of the front door styles with more glass for the added sunlight it brings into the house. You're not alone so in this article, we offer tips on how to pick the perfect door for you and your home.
In many ways your front door represents your home's personality and the family that lives there. It's important that your front door compliment and enhance the overall look of your home, and it should fit into the neighborhood too.
Finding Your Perfect Front Door Style
When you drive through neighborhoods, you probably see houses and front doors that you love, that you think would be perfect for your house. But do you know why some doors appeal to you while others don't?
Here's a fun exercise to discover what front door styles will work best for you.
- Drive down your street and identify the houses you most admire.
- Drive down the street again and write down the personality you feel each house reflects.
- Do this again and focus on the front door and see if the front door styles match the personality of the house.
- Now you're ready to pick a new door for your home as you should easily know if it the style of the new door should be casual, traditional, formal or unique.
Front Doors: What are Your Functional Requirements?
Doors are also functional. You've narrowed down the front door styles you like. Now it's time to identify the additional requirements your door needs to satisfy inside the home. You might want a new front door that's energy efficient. Many hallways tend to be dark so when you're replacing an exterior door, it's a good time to review your options for bringing more sunlight indoors.
Here's a list of functional front door requirements for you to pick from, as they aren't all obvious when looking at front door styles:
- Access requirements which seem obvious, change with time if you need a wider door to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Source of natural sunlight for indoor spaces.
- Ventilation may be important for houses that don't have central air conditioning. Today we use screen doors for ventilation where older buildings once used operable glass windows over doors for this.
- Door strength for security, which differs based on materials (wood, fiberglass or steel) used to manufacture a door.
- Fire resistance which typically is most important in doors between the garage and the house.
- Noise barrier if the house is on a busy street.
- Energy efficient using thermal insulation to reduce the loss of conditioned air.
- Low maintenance materials so you don't have to worry about frequent painting/sealing for wood doors.
Picking Front Door Styles
You might think it's easy to pick your front door style but it's not. There's the door panel and many more components you can change and/or add to the panel. When you want more sunlight, you can add glass panel(s) in the main door on one or both sides of the door. If your house can't support that big a change, you might be able to add a transom window over the door.
Look at these Therma-Tru doors (my handyman business installed hundreds of these doors). You should already see how they each satisfy different requirements. When the door is the focal point, it makes sense to pick a door style with more detail, using the texture of wood or integrated glass to create a door that captures the eye. If your door plays a supporting role then you can use a simple door style and put more of your budget into the surrounding trim (see the columns in front of the door at top) and/or landscaping.
Once you understand the basics, you can build different front door styles to fit your house and the look you want to create. Sidelites and transoms are wonderful because of the added sunlight you get indoors, which is where you spend most of your time.
Decisions You'll Make When Buying a Door
After you've picked your door style, there are more decisions to be made:
- Material choices include wood, fiberglass and steel. You want to consider energy efficiency, i.e. a door with an EnergyStar rating (check for available tax credits) and maintenance requirements.
- Even door hardware comes in different styles. The new front door levers are better as they're easier for anyone who has trouble gripping small objects. Dead bolts are a great option for those who are worried about security but make sure the length of the bolt provides real protection.
- The manufacturer influences the cost of your new door. Budget will help narrow your choices from a simple, attractive front door costing 600 to a premium front door which can cost up to $15,000. Don't forget the hardware which can run from less than $100 to more than $500.
Installing an Exterior Door Isn't Easy
Proper installation is critical to avoid problems with water damage. The job requires professional carpentry skills so the door functions properly and remains weather tight. Here are reasons why you might not want to install your own door
- Door must be level along 3 dimensions which can be a problem when the rough framing in which the door sits, isn't true on all sides. Doors must be straight vertically (not tilting left or right), plumb with the wall (one side can't be deeper than the other) and not tilting with top or bottom deeper than the other (learn about common door problems).
- When replacing a door, it's not uncommon to run into common door problems which need to be resolved while the rough opening is accessible.
- A new door must work with the interior flooring and sometimes the wood rot extends under the floor requiring a new sub-floor before the new door can be installed.
- All exterior doors must be weather tight which involves weather stripping (should be part of new door product) and sometimes you need a rain deflector for the bottom of the door to keep out horizontal rain.
- All exterior doors must be painted (6 sides) when new to reduce the amount of swelling/contraction of the wood and yes, even fiberglass doors need this type of ongoing maintenance as they have a wood strip around the edges in order to get a nice, tight fit.
We've got lots more tips about the many doors in your home. If you're researching front door styles and related topics, these are the best articles to check out:
- Doors Tips to Add Value to Your Home
- Exterior Doors: Fact, Fiction, Gobbledy Gook?
- Front Door Handles: How Many Styles are There?
- Handyman Repair Stories for Common Door Problems
- Digital Doorbells for Smart Homes
These are great tips on choosing a front door for your home. I’m tired of the same old door and I want to change it so that my house looks different. A friend suggested I call a carpenter because a wood door can give my house a more elegant appearance.
Megan, If you truly don’t like your door, then it’s time for a new one. Sometimes though, a new paint color & light fixtures can dramatically change the door you have.
My mom wants to change her exterior doors. I the screen doors you mentioned, to allow air to flow through your home. Thank you for the information. I’ll recommend her to visit a window and door shop so she can choose the doors she wants.
I bought a door at Edidoors and I’m quite happy. I liked these models with decorative glass.
These European doors, Edi Doors look great so thanks for sharing with my readers.
My wife and I have been wanting to replace our entryway for some time now. We are looking into residential door services to make the entryway. We want something that is more custom, it is also good to know that we can get something that is energy efficient and get tax credits.
My wife and I need to get a better insulated front door soon, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about how thermal insulation can reduce the loss of conditioned air. This will be great for the winter when it starts getting cold.
My brother went home drunk last night and damaged our entry door. It was explained here that entry doors are not only stylish but functional as well. Moreover, it’s advisable to consult professionals when planning to have entry door installation.
I really enjoy reading your blog posts from your website. Thank you for sharing quality content with those of us who are interested in this sort of work.
I am also a marketer for Grange Banks Commercial Coatings, which you can find out more information about our company at the link http://www.grangebanks.com.au/. We publish blogs about painting for business and home owners. A while ago, we published a blog about Preparing For Painting. I would be honoured if you would consider featuring it in your next roundup.
Here is the link:
Thank you for your time. I hope you have a great day.
After moving to our current area, my husband asked me if I wanted to change the security doors. I told him I’d research it first so I can help him decide. It’s a good thing that I stumbled on this post. I think we should really change our security doors using the last style.
Joy, You don’t mention what type of door you currently have but if you’re only concerned about security, better locks might be more appropriate.
My husband and I just bought a new home and we have been wanting to get a new front door. That is a great idea to use the texture of the wood or integrate glass into the design to create a fun door. I like the idea of having glass with our door. It would give us a lot more design options for sure!
A front door is all about security to me. But I do like a a rounded top door. I don’t know the terminology lol
Doors that are rounded on top are called arched doors. Understand that they’re more expensive & you definitely need to buy one that is pre-hung, meaning it comes with the wood enclosure surrounding the door. That’s the only way you know you’re getting a perfect fit and the door will operate correctly. A cheaper alternative is a regular door with a semi-circular transom (clerestory) window over it.
Thanks for your tips! Love learning about the many things you have to decide on when picking the right doors. AWESOME idea 🙂
There is a house down the road from me that has a beautiful yellow door. I love it! I wouldn’t have thought of yellow, but now it’s my favorite.
It’s amazing how many colors work for a front door. I remember when black was in & that took me some time to get used to …
Loved all the tips and saving it so I can come back as I’m going to be changing my front door. As it is my current door is doing nothing on curve appeal.
A beautiful door decide the look of the entire house! I am getting bored with our current front door and would like to update it. Thanks for your post!
Cat, Would love to see photos of your before & after door …
I realized when buying a home that here were so many many choices in things like this that it could be a bit overwhelming. This is a good read to help!
A front door can really say a lot about the house. It lends personality to it. I would love one with stained glass.
Kelly, Stained glass sounds lovely but it might limit your color choices for other things like siding, roofing, etc
Leigh Anne Borders
I would love to update our door. There are so many different styles out there that I sometimes find it hard to find what I am looking for exactly.
I’ve always been intrigued by front doors. I’ve always loved doors with glass incorporated in them.
Rachel, Yes glass is popular for lots of reasons so hopefully you’ve got glass in your front door now … and/or in the future.
These are such amazing ways to dress up the front door. It certainly should be welcoming.
So many doors to choose from. I leave that up to my husband to do the ordering and installing.
I live on a street where most of our front doors look the same. Love the idea of standing out by going for a new style!
Natalie, Have fun & take before & after photos … and then once a year after, as once you make a change it will inspire others to do the same.
We have a single with sidelights and love it. The windows are clear glass but in our small town we don’t have worries about people staring in our house. Front doors are a huge part of overall impression of the home and so important to update.
My doors are like the 2nd one in the picture of the doors.. So basic and boring.
Boring? Doesn’t have to be so dress it up with coat of paint of maybe some nice new sconces … and whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Changing your front door is a great way to change the whole look of your home. I have been wanting to paint our door. This post is making me want to replace it for a nicer look.
We bought a new door a few years ago and we actually did drive around looking for doors in the neighbourhood that we liked and then went with that. We also had it professionally installed.
Good for you Monica … and hope you’re enjoying the new door.
We bought a new door a couple of years ago and paid for the install. It was so worth it as the install guy said that our door frame was uneven
Now I think our front door style is boring! I had no idea there were so many different styles!
Marcie, There are so many different ways to dress up your door – it just takes a bit of time to find something you like, then do it … so good luck.