How are front doors made?

types of exterior doors

The front door is not just an entryway, but the focal point that sets the initial tone for the entire house. It serves multiple purposes—ensuring security, providing protection from the elements, and inviting visitors. With the main entrance being a crucial aspect of home design, understanding how front doors are made becomes essential. There are various components that make up an exterior door, such as the door slab, frame. There are also weatherproofing elements like weatherstrips and sweeps, (which are integral in guarding against air and moisture infiltration).

Exploring the process behind the making of doors reveals a complex blend of materials and technologies. Wood, fiberglass, and steel stand out as the primary materials for door slabs, each selected for its unique advantages in terms of durability, maintenance, and aesthetic versatility. Additionally, the incorporation of glass in front doors, whether through insert or flush-glazed methods, not only enhances their beauty but also introduces natural light into the home. This article delves into the process of exterior door construction, ensuring readers are well-informed on their journey to replacing their home’s front door.

Types of Exterior Doors

Exterior doors are not only pivotal for security and insulation but also serve as a significant element in the aesthetic appeal of a home. They come in various materials and styles, each offering unique benefits and challenges. Here is an overview of the primary types of exterior doors available:

Materials and Construction

  1. Wood Doors: Known for their natural beauty and traditional appeal, wood doors are typically crafted using frame and panel construction, which can be prone to warping and require regular maintenance.
  2. Fiberglass Doors: These doors offer durability and energy efficiency, with a wood grain texture that can mimic real wood. They are resistant to dents, scratches, and weather elements, making them a versatile choice for many homes.
  3. Steel Doors: As the most budget-friendly option, steel doors provide excellent security and insulation, thanks to their energy-efficient foam core. They often feature a coating that mimics wood grain, offering aesthetic flexibility.
  4. Aluminum and Composite Doors: These materials are valued for their durability and minimal maintenance requirements, often used in storm and patio doors for their resistance to corrosion and weathering.

Types and Features

  1. Entry Doors: Available in materials like wood, fiberglass, and steel, these doors are the main access points to a house and can be customized with various glass inserts, colors, and hardware options.
  2. Patio Doors: Including sliding and French doors, these provide access to outdoor spaces like decks and patios, with options for clear or decorative glass to enhance natural light and views.
  3. Storm Doors: These additional doors offer an extra layer of protection and insulation, available in materials such as steel, aluminum, or vinyl, and can include features like retractable screens and energy-efficient glass.
  4. Specialty Doors: This category includes bifold, sliding, and revolving doors, each designed for specific functional and spatial considerations in a building’s design.

Choosing the Right Door

When selecting an exterior door, it’s crucial to consider the door’s material, style, and the specific needs of the home. These can include; energy efficiency, security, and aesthetic preference. Measurements and handedness (the direction the door opens) are also important to ensure a proper fit and functionality.

The Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing of exterior doors is a meticulous process that involves various steps, each tailored to ensure durability, aesthetics, and functionality. Here’s a detailed look into how different types of doors are constructed:

Material Selection and Preparation

  1. Custom Hollow Metal Doors: The process begins with selecting high-quality galvanized or stainless steel. The metal sheets are then precisely sheared to meet specific job requirements and tolerances.
  2. Wooden Doors: Selection of hardwood is crucial, followed by milling to ensure the wood is flat and straight. This step is essential for the structural integrity of the door.
  3. Plywood Facing Doors: Starts with steaming and debarking logs, then rotary cutting to create veneer sheets that are later glued together to form a sturdy facing.

Forming and Assembly

  1. Metal Doors: Post shearing, a CNC punch press equipped with numerous tools creates precise door preps. A press break then forms the door edges, and components are welded and reinforced.
  2. Wooden and Plywood Doors: For wooden doors, the core material is glued between two skins and clamped. Plywood doors involve framing strips of wood with white pine and pressing until set.
  3. Finishing Touches: Doors undergo a visual inspection, are primed for paint, and in some cases, like plywood doors, additional sanding, staining, and varnishing are performed to enhance durability and aesthetics.

Specialized Techniques and Quality Control

  1. Robotic and Artisanal Methods: High-tech solutions like robotic painting ensure precision and speed, while artisanal craftsmanship in companies emphasizes custom, quality work.
  2. Inspection and Testing: Each door is rigorously inspected to meet internal quality standards, ensuring that every product adheres to the company’s reputation for durability and design excellence.

This comprehensive approach to door manufacturing not only ensures a product capable of standing the test of time but also meets the specific aesthetic and functional requirements of modern homes.

Advantages of Different Materials

Durability and Maintenance

  1. Wood Doors: Wood doors boast a natural beauty and can last over 30 years with proper maintenance. They are highly customizable and are available in endless color options. They can also be easily sanded and re-stained (or painted) to maintain appearance.
  2. Fiberglass Doors: Known for their resistance to dents, scratches, and harsh weather, fiberglass doors require minimal maintenance. They can mimic the appearance of wood doors without the maintenance hassles. They are exceptionally durable in comparison, not being prone to chipping or denting.
  3. Steel Doors: Steel doors offer a strong barrier against intruders and are highly durable and resistant to damage. They are low maintenance and provide excellent insulation, with a high insulating value up to five times greater than wood doors.

Energy Efficiency

  1. Wood Doors: Solid wood front doors have a naturally high R-value, contributing significantly to energy efficiency in homes.
  2. Fiberglass and Steel Doors: Both materials are excellent for energy efficiency. Fiberglass doors are manufactured with a thick layer of insulating foam at the center. Steel doors also include foam insulation. These materials help in reducing energy expenditure by up to 40%.

Aesthetic and Customization Options

  1. Wide Range of Styles: Customers can choose from a vast range of shapes, finishes, and designs. Fiberglass and steel doors are available in styles that mimic the look of wood, allowing for aesthetic flexibility.
  2. Customization: All door materials offer extensive customization options, from glass inserts to artistic designs, ensuring that every homeowner can find a door that perfectly matches their home’s architectural style and personal taste.

Design and Style Considerations

When selecting a front door, the design and style are paramount as they directly influence the home’s curb appeal and, by extension, its market value. Doors are not just functional components; they are also significant aesthetic elements that reflect the homeowner’s style and the architectural integrity of the building.

fiberglass front entry door security

Visual and Aesthetic Impact

  1. Glazing and Frame Options: The choice between framed and frameless designs can dramatically affect the appearance of a door. Frameless doors, often all-glass, offer a modern, sleek look that maximizes natural light and visibility.
  2. Customization and Personalization: High-quality materials and custom design options allow for doors that not only fit the exact dimensions and style of the home, but also enhance its character. Renowned manufacturers provide options for intricate designs, superior materials, and professional installation.
  3. Coordinating Design Elements: The integration of design elements (such as matching decorative hardware on the front and garage doors, or complementary window styles), ensures a cohesive look. This attention to detail can significantly boost a property’s visual appeal and its potential resale value.

Material and Style Selection

  • Material Choices: The door’s material should harmonize with the home’s overall style. Materials like fiberglass and aluminum offer flexibility in design while providing durability and low maintenance.
  • Style Consistency: The door style should complement the architectural style of the home. For instance, a wrought iron door might be perfect for a Tuscan-style home. Conversely, a sleek glass panel door could enhance a modern minimalist design.

Practical Considerations

  • Security and Privacy: Features like the type of glass used, whether fully or partially glazed, impact both the security and privacy of the home.
  • Lighting and Ventilation: Doors with sidelights or appropriate glazing can enhance natural lighting, making entryways appear more welcoming. Proper door design can also aid in ventilation, enhancing air flow and reducing energy costs.

These considerations ensure that the front door is not only functionally secure, but also significantly contributes to the home’s aesthetic and market value.

Maintenance and Durability

Maintaining the longevity and aesthetic appeal of exterior doors is crucial for homeowners, especially considering the varied materials and styles available. Each type of door material requires specific maintenance practices to ensure durability and functionality. Here is a detailed guide on maintaining different types of exterior doors:

Regular Maintenance Practices

  1. Cleaning: Exterior doors should be cleaned bi-annually with mild detergent and warm water to remove accumulated dirt and grime.
  2. Lubrication: Hinges and locks should be lubricated regularly using a silicone-based lubricant to ensure smooth operation and prevent rust.
  3. Weatherstripping: Inspect and replace weatherstripping around the door to avoid air and water leaks.
  4. Painting/Staining: Wooden doors require repainting or restaining every few years to protect them from the elements and maintain their aesthetic value.

Seasonal and Material-Specific Care

  • Wood Doors: Check for sticking or gaps caused by humidity changes; regular maintenance includes sanding, repainting, or staining as needed.
  • Fiberglass Doors: Although durable, they should be cleaned annually and checked for any sealant or paint deterioration, following manufacturer-specific guidelines.
  • Gliding Doors: Ensure the track is free from debris and apply dry lubricant to rollers or locking mechanisms as recommended.

Long-Term Considerations and Upgrades

  • Moisture Protection: Outswinging doors are preferred for better resistance to water and air penetration.
  • Annual Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection of all exterior doors to identify any signs of damage or weathering, such as loose hinges or cracked glass panes.
  • Replacement: Consider replacing doors that frequently require repairs or show signs of excessive wear, as new doors can enhance security, reduce maintenance costs, and increase property value.

Adhering to these maintenance practices not only extends the life of exterior doors, but also ensures they continue to perform their functional roles effectively.

Energy Efficiency and Insulation

Exterior doors play a crucial role in a home’s energy efficiency, often being a primary site for heat loss and air infiltration. The construction and installation of these doors can significantly influence heating and cooling costs, as well as overall home comfort. Here are key insights on enhancing energy efficiency through proper door selection and installation:

  1. Material and Construction Choices: The choice of materials and the construction quality of doors determine their insulation properties. Energy-efficient doors typically feature materials like fiberglass or steel with a core of insulating foam. These materials provide lower U-factors, indicating better insulation properties.
  2. Installation and Weatherproofing: Proper installation is critical to ensure that doors function as intended. Expanding foam caulking is used to seal the doorframe to the rough opening, preventing air leakage. Additionally, quality weatherstripping is essential to reduce energy losses, effectively sealing gaps where air might enter or escape.
  3. Technological Enhancements for Improved Insulation: Modern doors often incorporate technologies such as low-emissivity (low-e) glass in storm doors or multiple layers of glass with gases like argon between the panes in patio doors. These technologies minimize the amount of UV and infrared light that can pass through glass without compromising the amount of visible light transmitted.

By selecting doors with appropriate energy ratings and ensuring they are correctly installed and sealed, homeowners can significantly enhance the energy efficiency of their homes, leading to reduced energy costs and improved indoor comfort.

Cost Consideration and Long-Term Value

When considering the purchase and installation of exterior doors, homeowners face a range of costs dictated by many variables. Wood doors, while offering aesthetic appeal and customization options, rank as the most expensive, typically ranging from $400 to $1,800. In contrast, steel doors, known for their durability and security features, are generally more budget-friendly, with prices varying from $100 to $1,000. Fiberglass doors strike a middle ground in terms of cost, priced between $200 and $2,700, but may require specific installations that could add to the overall expense.

Understanding Installation and Long-term Costs

The installation costs for exterior doors can significantly affect the total investment, ranging from $150 to $800 per door. It’s also important to consider the long-term value doors add to a home. For instance, high-quality steel doors not only enhance home security, but also offer a return on investment (ROI) of about 68%, reflecting in increased property values. Similarly, fiberglass doors, while initially more costly, provide excellent energy efficiency.

Price Variation by Door Type and Features

The costs associated with different types of doors vary widely. For example, basic pre-hung doors may cost as little as $200, whereas high-end options like custom-sized fiberglass or intricately designed wood doors can escalate to $2,000 or more. Features such as double-glazing, security enhancements, and aesthetic customizations also play a crucial role in the final price. Understanding these cost different components is essential for homeowners to make informed decisions.


Throughout this exploration into the realm of exterior doors, we’ve gone over the aspects of their construction, and the significant role they play in a home. From the charm of wood doors, to the robust benefits of steel and fiberglass, an exterior door impacts different aspects of the home. The meticulous process of manufacturing underscores the importance of choosing the right door to meet both needs and style preferences.

When making an informed decision in selecting the right door, it’s clear that factors of cost, durability, and long-term value, are pivotal. Whether enhancing a home’s visual impact, or boosting its energy efficiency, the investment in a quality exterior door pays dividends. Get a free quote online to start the journey toward enhancing your home’s entrance.

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