What to consider when choosing a front door

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​What to consider when choosing a front door

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Front Door:  Front doors by Roundhouse Architecture Ltd
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More than any other element that forms part of your house’s façade, the front door has the power to immediately attract attention. For both guests and passersby, the look of that front entry can do a lot to add to (or detract from) your home’s overall impression. 

But even though there are many factors to consider when buying a front door, rules and regulations must also be remembered. Living in a listed building, for example, will present restrictions in terms of your door’s size, style and material. The same goes for period properties, especially if you live in a street lined with similar houses – the last sin you want to commit is add a super contemporary door to a vintage, traditional-style building, right? 

Certain questions need to be asked, such as “what colour(s) should my front door be?”; “does it need to be painted?”; ’do I want to add a front door canopy for extra shade?”. The list goes on! 

And even if you live in a rural setting and have more control over your door’s style, a bit of research is still advisable to get the right specs and style. 

Fortunately, we’ve kick-started the research part already…

1. The material of your front door: Wood

Malton Diamond Double Side Panel Door Set:  Windows & doors  by Modern Doors Ltd
Modern Doors Ltd

Malton Diamond Double Side Panel Door Set

Modern Doors Ltd

The most popular choice for aesthetic reasons. They are available in numerous looks thanks to a wide variety of woods, and can take just about any stain or paint colour. 

Clever thinking has led to some stock wood doors actually being veneer skins over an engineered wood core, which helps fight shrinking, swelling and warping – the main issues that are usually synonymous with wood doors. 

Keep in mind that, to keep a wood door looking its best for longer, added protection, like a canopy or overhang, is recommended. Otherwise, a lot of maintenance (and possible warping) is in store for you, the homeowner.

2. The material of your front door: Aluminium

A relative newcomer to the world of doors, aluminium doors share many of aluminium siding’s advantages, like a baked-on enamel finish that doesn’t require repainting and won’t rust.

Many colours, styles and designs can be chosen, including wood finishes. And unlike a steel door, an aluminium one can be combined with a storm door without the risk of heat build-up. 

The main drawback is that aluminium doors can dent. And since they are usually built to order, they are more costly than steel.

3. The material of your front door: Fibreglass and composite

General Images:  Front doors by RK Door Systems
RK Door Systems

General Images

RK Door Systems

These doors can expertly mimic the look and feel of a solid wood door for a significant cut in price. They are tough and virtually maintenance- free, except when placed directly in harsh weather. Thus, we recommend periodic resealing to keep it looking good and in proper working order. 

As they are usually made of moulded skins of fibreglass on a framework of wooden stiles and rails, these doors contain polyurethane-foam insulation.

Another great advantage is that these doors usually carry the longest warranties of any other material.

​4. The material of your front door: Steel

General Images:  Front doors by RK Door Systems
RK Door Systems

General Images

RK Door Systems

There are several reasons why steel doors are the most popular replacements for front doors, like: 

• they are the least expensive option (even though premium models’ prices can be quite high); 

• they are very durable (much more secure than wood), and will never warp, twist or crack; 

• due to their interiors featuring a steel or wooden inner frame filled with insulating foam, they have five times the R-value of an ordinary wooden door.

However, keep in mind that steel doors are vulnerable to dents, and that a scratch or severe dent breaching the painted skin can lead to rust.

5. The design of your front door

Reinstalling Character and Charm:  Windows  by ROCOCO
ROCOCO

Reinstalling Character and Charm

ROCOCO

Even if you live in a listed building or conservation area and your choices of front doors are limited, the majority of quality door specialists will still be able to help you out. 

When considering all the different designs, keep in mind not only the look of your house’s façade, but also the age of the property. Try and stick with something that will complement the particular period. 

One of the most popular front door designs in the UK is the classic Victorian-style, four-panel door – two glass panels at the top and two at the bottom. But even if this doesn’t turn out to be the best idea for your front entrance, have fun considering all the various options.

6. Price or quality?

Although it’s wise to always have a budget, focussing your efforts based only on the costs is never the place to start. 

Quality needs to come first. A cheap front door might save you some costs, yet it’ll come back to bite you in the end. Low-quality materials, poor insulation, and a weak structure are not factors you want to associate with your home’s front door, so choose wisely.

7. How secure is your front door?

Large Decorative Front  Door:  Houses by Arttus
Arttus

Large Decorative Front Door

Arttus

The most secure doors feature a solid core, making them more difficult to kick or break down. Knocking on the door will tell you which is which: solid doors sound “dead”, while hollow doors echo. To improve your door security, replace any hollow door (especially front ones) with one that has a solid core. 

And don’t overlook your locks! When choosing or replacing a lock, choose one that’s anti-pick, anti-snap, anti-drill and anti-bump.

homify hint: Safety first. Reinforce any existing locks on all your doors. And we definitely recommend installing wide-angle peepholes, allowing you to see if the person knocking is alone or carrying any tools. And don’t forget the back door!

8. The door’s size

Miner's Cottage II: Front Entrance:  Houses by design storey
design storey

Miner's Cottage II: Front Entrance

design storey

One of the most popular mistakes made when choosing a front door is thinking that they’re all the same size. They are not! In addition to measuring your entryway and door gap before looking at doors, be sure to communicate these to the door specialist so they can aid you on your quest for the perfect door. 

And remember it’s not only about the physical door – the internal floor height and door width should also be focused on. You don’t want to find that you can’t manoeuvre around the door after it’s been fitted, do you?

9. Your front door colour

Old School House, Glen Dye, Banchory, Aberdeenshire:  Windows  by Roundhouse Architecture Ltd
Roundhouse Architecture Ltd

Old School House, Glen Dye, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Roundhouse Architecture Ltd

The fun part! Once you’ve decided on the right material, size and style, you may want to think about changing its appearance. After all, your front door will be one of the first things your guests will see, so how about making it a lasting impression? 

Just a few pointers, though:  

• Choose a tone that complements your house. Even if strawberry red is your favourite colour, think about how it will fit with the wood/brick/whatever material of your façade.  

• Take your house’s style into consideration – pastel green, for example, will look bizarre in a traditional English Tudor-style house, while a Mediterranean-type home can look quite striking with a bright turquoise-painted door. Take into account the materials, colours and style of your existing façade, as well as the surrounding landscape.

10. Painting your front door

Upper Park, Loughton:  Windows & doors  by Boscolo
Boscolo

Upper Park, Loughton

Boscolo

Matte, gloss and semi-gloss are the most popular paint finishes for exterior doors. Paints intended for outdoors are usually either oil-based or latex-based.

In terms of finishes, it really comes down to personal preference. Matte paints are excellent for a rustic, weathered look. Gloss and semi-gloss are easier to clean and will flaunt that “freshly painted” look for longer. Their downside is that their bright sheen makes every imperfection in the wood stand out.

In choosing between oil- and latex paints, first consider the type of paint already on the door. Should you plan on painting directly over the door’s existing paint, use the same kind (oil and latex don’t mix well). You will need to completely strip the door before painting a different type of paint. 

While oil-based paints take longer to dry, they have a much smoother finish than latex-based paints. The coat also forms a hard enamel which resists scuffs and scratches, perfect for day-to-day exposure to the elements. 

And never use a water-based paint on an exterior door, as the coat will not hold.

Ever considered leaving that bucket of paint up to the stars? Then ask yourself: Which paint colour is perfect for your Zodiac sign?

Planning on installing a new front door for your home? Tell us all about its style, colours, materials, etc.
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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