Making a grand entrance depends upon having a great door, but there are a lot of ins and outs to consider about doors and not surprisingly, the most important element is the climate we live in.
Older doors, made of wood or wood veneer, may show the wear of age more quickly than fiberglass or steel ones.
You may want the classic look of a solid-wooden door, but in Alberta those doors will come with a one year warranty, whereas in Ontario or British Columbia such a structure would have a 10-year warranty, said Eugene Weig, operations manager of Home Tech Windows and Doors.
“In Alberta we have low moisture and wood needs moisture or it can split. In Ontario, the houses usually have brick or stone whereas here most houses have siding. With brick or stone, there is a heavier product for the door to attach to,” Weig said.
Doors made of fiberglass may be stained or painted so that they look and feel like wood. A smooth, less-expensive alternative is a steel door. Steel doors have a permanent maintenance-free finish.
Energy efficiency is an important consideration for anyone living in Alberta and both fiberglass and steel doors will have foam core insulation.
“Generally speaking, doors with decorative glass inserts are low-E. That means they save you money on your heating bills, but when you purchase a door, make sure you check the energy rating. Usually it will have a low-E sticker to show its rating,” said Justin Plourde, assistant manager at Windsor Plywood.
Plourde also cautioned against doors that have built-in blinds between the layers of glass.
“If there is a built-in blind, it may have a lower energy rating because it loses energy through the glass and in spring, condensation may build up inside. Plain glass inserts are usually less energy efficient, perhaps because they are less expensive doors,” Plourde said.
Vents or transom windows could also alter the energy efficiency, Plourde said.
“Anything with glass openings could be less efficient. You could feel drafts,” he said.
Warranties may be affected by whether or not you have a storm door.
“Many warranties will be void if you have a storm door. The reason is that the storm door acts like a conductor of heat, cold and moisture and the heat can build up between the two doors causing the frame to warp,” Weig said.
Instead of the old familiar storm door with a screen, the newer doors will have side panels that open to reveal a screen behind them or they may have a retractable screen that slides into the wall and out of sight and out of mind.
If the old doorframe shows sign of rot, the frame and jambs will need to be ripped out and replaced. Even if the old frame appears fine, it may have settled so that it is no longer square.
“The main thing for structural integrity of the door is the frame and the hinge,” said Weig, as he pointed out that the newer doors, constructed with glass inserts, are heavy.
Some of the elaborate custom made doors that feature decorative glass might weigh as much as 80 kilograms, he said.
“You need reinforced hinges, ball-bearing hinges to support the dead weight of the door,” Weig said.
Because of climate concerns, Weig recommends that people looking for a door should purchase Canadian-made doors.
“Installation is the most important thing. Always install a door from the inside because the whole weight is on the inside. They should be installed by qualified door installers and they need to be installed with screws rather than nails, because nails cannot be adjusted,” he said.
Weig noted that some people have quirky feelings about the psychology of hiding behind their doors.
“In Alberta people tend to be very private about their doors,” he said, adding that some customers worry about the safety of having of glass in doors, even though the glass is tempered and as structurally sound as automobile glass.
“It’s strange because if you think about it, most living rooms have a big open glass window,” he said.
From the outside, especially at night, the house will appear to glow behind the faceted glass. Inside, at different times of the day glass in doors can act like prisms that cast rainbows and warmth on the walls.
The front door offers the first and last impression of a home and yet, most people go through their own entrance so often, they scarcely notice these swinging structures that protect them from the elements as they guard the treasures within. Whether your front door is showing its age or you just want to trade a solid door for one with glass panels that allow light to shine in, there are plenty of options available.