The 3 Types of Exterior Door Materials – Which Is Right for Your Home?

There are many reasons why you might be looking to replace one or more exterior doors at your home. Maybe your front door is looking a little worse for wear and is dragging down your home’s curb appeal. Or, maybe you’re trying to maximize your home’s energy efficiency and your old exterior doors just aren’t cutting it. Another common reason why homeowners replace their exterior doors is to increase home security. No matter what your motivation is, when choosing new exterior doors for your home, you will have no shortage of options. The three most popular types of exterior door materials are fiberglass, steel, and wood. Not sure which option is right for your home? Read on to learn about the features and benefits of each.

Fiberglass Exterior Doors

A dark blue fiberglass exterior door.If you want a front door material that offers the beautiful appearance of real wood but won’t require as much upkeep, then a fiberglass exterior door may be right for you. A fiberglass door will resist nicks and dents much better than a wooden door, and it won’t need to be sanded or painted in order to retain its like-new appearance. Fiberglass doors are available in just about any color you can imagine, so you’ll have endless design flexibility when it comes to choosing a door that suits your home’s aesthetic.

Benefits of Fiberglass Doors

  • Durability: Fiberglass doors are highly durable and resistant to dents, scratches, and dings, making them ideal for high-traffic areas and homes with children or pets.
  • Weather Resistance: Fiberglass doors excel in various weather conditions. They are less likely to warp, rot, or swell when exposed to moisture, extreme temperatures, or humidity.
  • Low Maintenance: Unlike wooden doors, fiberglass doors require minimal maintenance. They do not need regular painting, staining, or sealing, saving you time and effort.
  • Energy Efficiency: Fiberglass doors offer excellent insulation properties, helping to keep your home comfortable year-round. They minimize heat loss in the winter and prevent heat gain during the summer, reducing energy costs.

In terms of energy efficiency, fiberglass exterior doors are tough to beat. Most fiberglass doors feature polyurethane-insulated cores which offer exceptional protection against the elements and can dramatically reduce heat transfer so your home stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In fact, the average fiberglass exterior door offers five times the insulation value of a wooden door! A fiberglass door will likely cost a bit more than a steel door, but given its unmatched energy efficiency, it won’t be long before it pays for itself. And, the average fiberglass exterior door yields a return on investment of about 82%, making it a great choice.

Steel Exterior Doors

A brick home with a steel exterior door.In terms of popularity, steel door materials are right up there with fiberglass, largely thanks to their unbeatable strength and durability. After all, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about steel? Strength, right? Other metal doors, such as those made of aluminum, are prone to bending or kinking when enough pressure is applied, but steel doors consistently score at the very top of forced entry tests. It’s no wonder steel exterior doors are the preferred choice for government buildings, schools, businesses, and homeowners looking to safeguard their homes. Adding to their durability, steel doors are also the most fire retardant of any exterior door material.

Benefits of Steel Doors

  • Fire Resistance: Steel doors have fire-resistant properties, adding an extra layer of safety to your home. They can withstand high temperatures and help contain fires, providing valuable time for evacuation.
  • Design Versatility: Steel doors are available in various designs, styles, and finishes. They can be customized to complement your home’s aesthetics and can feature decorative glass inserts or panel designs.
  • Longevity: Steel doors have a long lifespan and are built to withstand years of use. They are less susceptible to wear and tear compared to other door materials, making them a durable and long-lasting choice.
  • Noise Reduction: Steel doors provide better noise insulation than some other materials. They can help reduce external noise, creating a quieter and more peaceful indoor environment.

For some, the words “steel door” might conjure up images of an unsightly, gray, institutional-style door with a small wired-glass window. But the truth is, most residential steel doors are virtually indistinguishable from wood or fiberglass doors. In fact, many steel exterior doors are available with woodgrain-style finishes (some even with grooves) and can be customized in a variety of colors to suit your home’s exterior. While steel exterior doors don’t offer quite as much energy efficiency as fiberglass doors, they’re more energy-efficient than wooden doors since they feature insulated cores. And, not only do steel doors typically cost less than both fiberglass and wooden doors but because of their durability and the home security they provide, they offer an impressive 91% return on investment, making them a great all-around home upgrade.

Wood Exterior Doors

A large wooden exterior door with sidelites.Wood has been a popular material for exterior doors for centuries, and there are a number of reasons why it remains in use, even though synthetic door materials like fiberglass and steel have come to dominate the market. For many homeowners, there is no substitute for the natural beauty that real wood provides. With numerous wood species to choose from, each offering a slightly different grain, texture, and color, wooden doors provide a grandiosity that neither fiberglass nor steel can match. What’s more, many homeowners like the heft that real wooden doors have. Others may be looking to upgrade their exterior doors while retaining the historical accuracy of their older homes. And then there are some who simply feel that natural materials are more luxurious than synthetic materials.

Pros and Cons of Wood Doors

  • Natural Beauty: Wood doors offer a timeless and elegant aesthetic appeal. The natural grain patterns and warm tones of wood can enhance the overall appearance of your home.
  • Customizability: Wood doors can be easily customized to fit your specific design preferences. They can be stained, painted, or varnished in various colors and finishes to match your interior or exterior décor.
  • Maintenance: Wood doors require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and protect them from the elements. They need to be periodically sealed, stained, or painted to prevent warping, cracking, or rotting.
  • Vulnerability to Weather: Wood doors are more susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions, including moisture, humidity, and fluctuating temperatures. Without proper protection, they can warp, swell, or deteriorate over time.

Wood exterior doors are typically more expensive than fiberglass and steel doors, and they usually require the most maintenance, which is probably why they’re the least popular of the three options. Sure, a wooden door may need to be repainted from time to time. But while one homeowner may view this as “tedious upkeep,” another might see it as an opportunity to change up the color of their front door and give their home’s exterior a makeover.

Contact West Shore Home to Learn More

Still not sure which kind of exterior door is right for your home? Contact the home improvement professionals at West Shore Home today to learn more about the features and benefits of front doors installation.