Exterior Door Choices - Things to consider?

I've been reading up on steel vs. fiberglass entry doors. There's seems to be a lot to consider.
One article I read said steel doors seal better because of the magnetic weather stripping. Any truth to this?
I've read I need to be concerned about the gauge of the steel as it relates to denting. What's the thinnest I should consider for normal household use - kids (mid-teens and up), dogs, etc. If the door gets dented, I'll notice it everyday and be pissed. Should I avoid steel if for no other reason than this?
As far as looks, it seems that wood-grain fiberglass would be better since I can stain it. I think that would look better than a painted steel door. What I gain in looks, I lose in efficiency - yes or no?
What about windows? See through windows are a must, and I assume I should go with a minimum of double-pane. Does it matter as far as steel or fiberglass when it comes to windows? I assume the same options exist for both.
What else should I consider when I stop reading and actually start looking at doors?
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Is there some reason why you would not want real wood? It can be stained and has real grain to it.
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Wood doors have the lowest R value of the 3 choices. Yes, I will also have a storm door, but I'd rather improve upon an R 6-8 than an R 2-4.
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.
How can steel doors insulate better than wood. I have a steel door and its cold inside as the cold conducts to the inside. I can understand the foam cores High R value. Windows as a whole are tested by U value, have you seen door U value tests. A U value test would be the proper test of the door system as a whole. Wood is about R 3.5", the foam they use maybe R 5" now the steel ruins the equation. Fiberglass- foam core sounds good and durable.
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On Tue, 2 Dec 2008 14:10:23 -0800 (PST), ransley

My front door is painted metal. It has a full southern exposure and can get hot to the touch July-August. A wooden door might warp. Metal door weather stripping works just fine. An overhang helps a lot. I didn't think fiberglass doors were practical for an exterior door, they are just too light. R-values are not nearly as critical as properly installed weatherstripping.
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On Tue, 2 Dec 2008 10:26:37 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

You got kids? You do NOT want a steel door - PERIOD. Steed doors dent. It's a fact of life. They need to be painted a light colour as well - and a good paint job needs to be done with some real care..
I like PAINTED fiberglass - the stain never really stands up in real life - or go with a solid wood door.
The requirement for a window again takes steel out of the running in my experience, as the door expands and shrinks with temp more than fiberglass or wood. and with a higher difference to the trim surrounding the window. You need to paint the door and the door trim separately before installing the trim - and then prevent the trim from sticking to the paint on the foor so the paint is not damaged or "torn" when the trim moves against the door.
I worked for 2 door/window companies and the horror stories I saw are one reason I have not replaced the solid wood front door on my house.
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On Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:50:17 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Thanks for this post, reinforcing our decision to keep our 40" wide extra-thick solid wood front door, circa 1930. Plus it really looks great.
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good local craftsmen = particularly if you live in southwestern Ontario, Pensylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and many other parts of North America. Of any wood your heart desires.
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I had a pair of steel French doors that I just replaced due to rust with fiberglass.
The steel doors didn't have magnet seals and they sealed just fine, as do my fiberglass doors. That is a bunch of bunk.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Other considerations: 1. You can stain steel doors - Not exactly a stain, more of a thick paint that exactly mimics wood. 2. I would think steel doors are more resistant to being kicked down than fiberglass. 3. Fiberglass will never rust. 4. Some door windows introduce a vulnerability to entry. If you have windows on a door, make sure the deadbolt requires a key on both sides. Alternatively, the addition of a burglar-bar door may be suitable. 5. There are (at least) two thicknesses of steel doors; one normal and the other fire. The fire doors are impregnable.
The prisoners in my state make things (for sale only to other branches of government), but you might look here for additional ideas:
Here's a standard door: http://www.tci.tdcj.state.tx.us/products/metal/security/DOORS/CO051149.aspx
Maximum security door: http://www.tci.tdcj.state.tx.us/products/metal/security/DOORS/maximumsecurity.aspx
Main directory of stuff: http://www.tci.tdcj.state.tx.us /
Aside: The prisons also grow virtually all their own food (except pepper, coffee, tea, and and a few other imports) including veggies, pork, chicken, beef, rice, wheat, milk, and so on. They also grow a lot of cotton which is woven into cloth. The women's unit makes mattresses, uniforms, bedding, etc.
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On Tue, 2 Dec 2008 10:26:37 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

Climate! In the desert at triple temps, 90 days a year beading on the west facing door it get's hot. I've seen instances of fiberglass drying out, cracks, warps, etc.
Wood will dry out - touch up painting, if painted.
Metal gets dented, and best fixed at an auto body shop and painted with professional care. It looks better when dents are fixed correctly.
Pick your poison....
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We just installed a ThermaTru fiberglass door. Nice product, tight seal, limited heat transfer compared to nearby steel door. It was much heavier than I expected, and the prehung framing was very robust. Haven't painted it yet, but even in the light colored primer it looks good. We have a family member who does astonishingly realistic faux wood finishes and I must figure some way to bribe her to make the TheraTru look like real light oak.
Joe
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ThermaTru was one of our considerations. A catalog - sans prices - was given to us by the contractor supply house where I bought my Simonton windows.
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