by Allison Gunkel
Studies have long deduced that when encountering someone the first feature noticed by 50 percent of the population is a person's smile.
This is not surprising as a nice smile is often considered a sign of welcome and friendliness. So it should not be unexpected that your home's front door is just like your smile – it needs to be warm and inviting!
Being the primary focal point of your home, the front door needs to be both functional and eye appealing. In order to choose from the wide varieties of styles and materials available, you should first become familiar with some door terminology:
- Inswing (I/S), Right Handed: A door that opens in with the hinges on the right
- Inswing, Left Handed: A door that opens in with the hinges on the left
- Outswing (O/S), Right Handed: A door that opens out with the hinges on the left
- Outswing, Left Handed: A door that opens out with the hinges on the right
The above refer to the view of the door from the exterior of the home. The choice of direction in which your home's door will swing is determined by the space available. Doors should not inhibit the surrounding area upon opening or closing.
Whatever swing works in your home, the most important part of your exterior door is the material from which it is made. Contact a local professional to see what materials are recommended to perform best in your area. Picking a material will then help focus your choices in style. Be sure and ask if the company has a take-home guide that lays out your options in an easily understood format. Bringing this material home and considering what will fit your decor both inside and out can be a wonderful asset. The sturdy materials today come in a dizzying array of available looks and styles, much of which can become overwhelming to any homeowner:
- Steel – Steel entry doors are core insulated, energy efficient options. These are weather-stripped by manufacturers and resistant to shrinking, swelling, or warping from the elements. Even in the face of extreme weather conditions, steel doors require only minimal maintenance; however, be aware that initial installation may be difficult. If unfamiliar with door installation, contacting a professional is always recommended. Steel doors come ready to paint and are quite affordable.
- Fiberglass – Fiberglass has the same energy efficiency and installation situations as steel doors. Though they are similarly weather resistant, fiberglass doors are also dent and scratch resistant, and are ideal for high traffic entryways. Able to be painted or stained, fiberglass doors are growing in popularity with active families needing sturdy doors that will retain their beauty.
- Wood – Wood doors are classic, creating an immediately welcoming entryway. A heavier material, these doors are reassuring and sturdy, and can be painted or stained to match your home. Frame and panel construction of wood doors protect them from damage by inclement weather. Cost of wooden doors typically depends on what wood is used and the design intricacy.
Exterior doors also include sliding patio doors or French doors. Ranging from 5 to 12 feet in width, patio doors are simply large panes of glass framed with a variety of materials:
- Aluminum – Inexpensive, does not rust, and easy to maintain
- Vinyl – Low maintenance, energy efficient, looks new for many years to come, usually offers insulated glass and weather-stripping
- Wood – Highest quality frame and also the most expensive, has the same warmth as any other wood door with the bonus of the full view glass
- Wood clad – Wood door with vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum acting as a kind of armor on the exterior to further prevent weather damages. Wood appearance remains on the interior.
French doors come in the above materials, as well as steel and fiberglass, and are also available with any swing and with both doors functional.
The garage door is another exterior entryway that can truly add or take away from your home's appearance. With the 3-car garage becoming the standard for many new homes, the average front facing garage door accounts for 30% of the curb view. You want to be sure that it will fit seamlessly with your home:
- Carriage House styled doors look ready to open wide, with handles and windows placed strategically. However, this is all for show as the door still opens in standard garage fashion at the push of a button.
- Wood doors are making a comeback for the garage. With added weather resistance and insulation treatment, these doors add charm and character while requiring minimal maintenance.
Many garage doors are reinforced against high winds and possible storm damages. Local building codes dictate what gauge tracking and impact resistant windows ought to be used. Be sure and check your local building codes before purchasing any doors – this is a precautionary measure that can help prevent costly damage in the future.
Interior doors are quite different from exterior doors in both material and function:
- Hollow Core – Hollow core doors are great for the do-it-yourself type or limited budgets. Easy to handle and lightweight, hollow doors come in flush (smooth) or paneled (inset sectional look) surfaces that can be painted or stained to fit the decor where used.
- Solid Core – These doors look and feel like solid wood but are actually filled with a core of wood fiber. This allows greater sound block than hollow core doors and also burn slower, though they are not fire doors. Solid core doors appeal to many homeowners as they cost quite a bit less than wood doors but offer the same visual.
- Solid Wood – Solid wood doors can be painted or stained and are naturally soundproof. They are very heavy and stable, but do shrink and swell based on humidity and time. Precise installation is a must and usually requires a professional hand.
There are many places where an interior door is needed but the space simply does not allow a standard door to swing. When thinking about the rooms in your home and how to adequately use the space, get creative with your door designs:
- Bypass doors slide one behind another. This is common of many non walk-in closets. Though they are widely used, they can hinder access to the space where the doors overlap. Be mindful of what you will place in areas utilizing bypass doors and the access required.
- Pocket doors slide into an adjacent wall when opened, making great use of the available space. A sleek look, pocket doors are wonderful for smaller closets and also for granting greater access between two rooms, for example, opening a bedroom to a play area.
- Bifold or trifold doors are those that can open an expanse or even remove an entire wall. They fold up accordion style, taking up minimal space and providing excellent access.
- Clipped doors fit awkward spaces where ceilings vault or underneath stairs. They can be cut to accommodate any angle, however, consult a professional before undertaking this task. Measurements must be precise.
- Dutch doors were once used in farm kitchens to allow ventilation while keeping the animals out of the house. Cut into top and bottom halves, this door has a place in any home no matter how far away from the farm. Perfect for kitchens, Dutch doors allow extra ventilation and provide a view of the other room while keeping small children or pets out from underfoot.
- Glass paneled doors help to blur the line defining interior and exterior areas. Designed to open and close like a garage door, glass paneled doors are being used inside homes to aid smooth transitions from indoor to outdoor living by replacing part of a wall. Numerous kinds of glass can be used, as well as having it insulated for energy efficiency.
Many residents move throughout their homes without realizing the number of doors they use daily. It is important that the doors you choose blend into your home's decor while remaining practical. Take plenty of time finding what will work best with your home plan both visually and functionally, indoor and out. Soon your home will be as eye catching as your smile.
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