Front Doors – A Commentary by Jim Hicks

I just looked at a front door replacement project for a previous customer that we had done a window replacement job for recently.  Doors replacements are very interesting projects because they can be very simple, or they can be very complex.  It all has to do with the thickness of the wall.  We don’t get a lot of door business because a lot of it goes to the big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.  They have their own subcontractors with pre-negotiated prices to install doors for them.  The problem is that if they run into any situation that is not the standard cut and dry installation, the result is that the installation turns out to be very poor and substandard.  Then that’s where we come in; we get called to either replace the door with a new one or reinstall the same door properly. 

The standard door options that are available right now begin with the steel-skin door.  This is a wood door inner core with a thin steel skin around it.  These are the cheapest exterior doors that you can get.  The problem with these doors is that the skin will rust over time and will require routine maintenance.  You frequently see these doors used as personnel doors on garages.  In many cases, people will use them as their front doors as well because they are very inexpensive.

A better exterior door product material is fiberglass.  The fiberglass door has the same construction as the steel-skin door with the wood door slab covered with a fiberglass skin.  The nice thing about this is that the fiberglass will not rust; however, both of these doors are very lightweight and offer very little security or insulation value.

The highest quality doors on the market right now are structural steel doors manufactured by companies such as Pro Via.  The structure of the door consists of solid steel ribs and beams internally with a steel outer shell.  The void spaces in the middle of the steel panels are filled by insulation foam.  The finished product is a very strong, very well-made door that provides a high level of security and insulation, if it is installed correctly. 

The nice thing about Pro Via doors is that every door is custom sized specifically for your project.  Our carpenters love the fit that they get every time with Pro Via.  Functionally, they are outstanding.  Once they are properly installed their functionality is, as expected, top-notch. Not to mention they look great.

So, when evaluating the options available to you if you’re thinking about replacing your front door its fun to look at the catalogs of all the pretty glass options.  However, do not that you have let this be your number one determinant of what kind of door you’d like to have installed on your home.  I’ve had many customers pick out doors that they thought were pretty because of the glass options that weren’t the best quality only to have regretted not spending a little bit more money on a Pro Via type door and getting a much better quality for their purchase dollars.

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