Everything You Need to Know About Exterior Doors

Published on: March 20, 2024

A home’s exterior doors play several important functions: security, insulation, indoor comfort and curb appeal. So when it comes time to replace them, you want to be very picky about the door manufacturer and who does the installation. 

The right door will help make your home attractive, instill a strong impression on visitors and serve as a safe passageway into your home. This connection between the inside and outside is extremely practical and important. 

With decades of experience in door installation, here’s everything you need to know about what to expect and how to protect your home with the best doors available.

Exterior Door Types

When evaluating doors, there are two main categories: interior and exterior. So once you decide it’s time for new exterior doors, you have a few options for exterior door types.

1. Front Doors

The International Residential Code outlines front door sizes as being a minimum of 32 inches wide and 78 inches tall. Generally, these doors are 1 ¾ inches thick with a standard insulation value between R-5 and R-6. But if you live in an especially chilly part of Washington, you might consider even more insulated doors.

A front door is usually visible from the road and plays an important role in how welcoming your home is. This is likely the most important door you’ll pick out.

The direction your home faces might also impact your decision-making for what door to place here. If the wind hits the door especially hard or it faces the afternoon sun, which can fade it faster, you might consider additional features and factors for this door.

2. Back and Side Doors

Some garages have a side door that makes it easier to get in and out without going through your house or leaving the garage door open. This would qualify as a side door. Other homes have a side door for a side deck or wrap-around deck. These doors must be no less than 30 inches wide.

Doors that attach to your garage without leading directly into the home can have lower insulation ratings. But if they connect directly to the living space of your home, you want the door to meet the same insulation requirements of R-5 to R-6. 

Depending on where the door is at, you might be able to see it from the curb. Evaluate its visibility when selecting the best door for the job.

3. Patio Doors

Your patio door can be a variety of sizes, including double doors or sliding glass doors. If you have a sunroom, three-season or four-season room, you likely want double doors to make the space more usable and accessible. But if it goes out to a space that is not enclosed, a single sliding door or traditional door is likely sufficient. 

The way you use your outdoor space can impact which door is best for this area of your home. If you choose a door with panes of glass, be sure they have multiple panes to prevent air from escaping your home or outdoor air from getting in.

Allow the Professionals to Do It

How to Find the Best Exterior Doors

The best exterior door will vary based on a variety of factors. But here are some factors you’ll want to consider.

  • Energy Performance Rating: All windows and doors have an energy performance rating, which tells you how well they’ll keep your treated air inside your home and keep the outdoor air outside. This rating provides insights for homeowners based on their climate and home style. These labels are easy to read and interpret for the average person but if you aren’t sure what they mean, ask your door contractor. You should be able to compare one door to another using similar features and know how comfortable your home will be inside when you have the door installed.
  • Energy Star: the most energy-efficient doors might have a U.S. Government Energy Star Program rate. This metric will tell you the solar heat gain coefficient and U-factor for the door. This is especially important when the door incorporates a window. While you likely want the natural light from the glass, it can lead to less energy efficiency if you aren’t picky about the door. 
Exterior Doors

The Role of Weatherstripping for Exterior Doors

Regardless of the door you select, weatherstripping will impact how strong of a seal it has. You cannot skip this task and expect energy-efficient doors. While there are DIY kits and ways you can complete this process yourself, it’s important to read up on best practices to ensure the best results.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a list of best practices for weatherstripping, caulking and sealing doors and windows. The organization’s studies show that these sealing activities pay off in just a season thanks to energy savings.

Even if you don’t replace your windows or doors yet, completing weatherstripping and caulking could help extend the life and comfort of your doors for a little longer and won’t cost much. 

How Much Do Exterior Doors Cost?

Exterior door costs are variable based on the size and type of door you need. Other factors will be the insulation value and the material you select. Door installation costs $400-$1400 depending on your home and the contractor you select.

If you choose a solid wood door, you should expect to pay a few thousand dollars. The second most expensive door material is fiberglass. Finally, steel doors are the least expensive option. Steel doors can be insulated still and offer customization options to accomplish the appearance you want.

The more insulated you want your door to be, the more you’ll need to pay for it. However, this can make your home more enjoyable while lowering your energy expenses, making the added cost worth it.

Can I Install an Exterior Door Myself?

Most homeowners are not equipped to install an exterior door themselves. That’s because getting a good seal on these doors is so essential and you don’t want to disrupt your home’s cladding. One mistake could require new siding or additional expense you wouldn’t have encountered if you had paid a professional from the start.

Additionally, you should consider the safety and security aspects of your doors. You should ensure that you are installing your doors securely to prevent break-ins and theft.

Professional Door Installation in Washington State

When it’s time for new exterior doors, turn to the professionals at 2FL Windows, Siding and Roofing to aid in your home upgrade. Our team offers professionals who will visit your home, evaluate your needs and make recommendations for the best materials and workmanship.
In Washington, you want to be sure your home is protected from the wet weather we encounter. Don’t skimp on sealing your doors and windows properly or you might regret it. Schedule your free in-home estimate now.

Further Reading:


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