Steel vs. Wood vs. Fiberglas Exterior Doors


Subject says it all. Missus says we need to replace the front exterior door to our house with a pre-hung new one. Not sure which to get for replacement.
Security, insulation value, service life are main considerations.
Suggestions?
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Steel dents and in winter the door is cold, even my foam filled steel door, I cant see it insulating as well as wood or fiberglass since steel transfers cold. Wood insulates but must be maintained, I am considering fiberglass. As far as security that is first locks, and if you have big concerns get a lock that cannot be "bumped"
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This might help..
http://www.house-energy.com/Doors/Exterior-Doors.htm
Wood can be more expensive and less energy efficient than steel or fiberglass, but more elegant.
Wood can also be cheaper than steel or fiberglass if you go basic.
Steel will dent/scratch if you (or the kids) are rough on doors.
Fiberglass can be smooth or wood grained, stained or painted.
Jambs can be wood or composite, pre-wrapped or wrapped on site.
The amount and type of glass also impacts the efficiency and rating.
See here for examples of ThermaTru doors that do (and don't) qualify for the tax credit:
http://www.thermatru.com/pdfs/TaxCreditChart.pdf
Doing it yourself or having it installed? Just curious...
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wrote:

This might help..
http://www.house-energy.com/Doors/Exterior-Doors.htm
Wood can be more expensive and less energy efficient than steel or fiberglass, but more elegant.
Wood can also be cheaper than steel or fiberglass if you go basic.
Steel will dent/scratch if you (or the kids) are rough on doors.
Fiberglass can be smooth or wood grained, stained or painted.
Jambs can be wood or composite, pre-wrapped or wrapped on site.
The amount and type of glass also impacts the efficiency and rating.
See here for examples of ThermaTru doors that do (and don't) qualify for the tax credit:
http://www.thermatru.com/pdfs/TaxCreditChart.pdf
Doing it yourself or having it installed? Just curious...
Part of an exterior remodeling project-- carpenter/contractor will do it...
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On Thu, 19 Nov 2009 14:25:06 -0800, ransley wrote:

Yep, ours is wood but I don't mind the mantenance angle - there's so much on the house that needs similar maintenance that it's not really any extra effort, and doing it regularly maybe means it'll last better than something that's zero maintenance (where minor problems might turn into big ones because there's no incentive to ever check for the small ones in the first place)
re. security, I'm not sure it's worth worrying about. Idiots are just as likely to break a window, or even just cut a hole in the wall if it's a timber-framed house... casual theives might wiggle a door handle, more serious ones will do their homework and come prepared.
cheers
Jules
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I put in a steel door about 10+ years ago. It was free (someone bought the wrong door and could not return it) and it does a pretty good job. If I was buying a door, it would not be my first choice though. Real wood is the best for appearance, but I'd give a good look at fiberglass.
If you are using a storm door with a steel door, do not paint the door a dark color if it gets hot. It can get hot enough to burn you from the solar heat.
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I am not fond of steel for residential applications. Fiberglass might be OK but my best recommendation is a quality wood door.
If you look at some hundred year old houses with the original doors you will get an idea of what the term quality is all about. If however you go the BORG and buy a thin skinned particle board filled "solid core" door, good luck.
Look in your phone book for a mill work shop in your area and talk to them. They can set you up with a well built door and frame and good hardware. I mentioned hardware because if you do decide on getting a good door, it is going to be heavier than a cheap one so you might opt for a nice set of ball bearing hinges.
If you have some concern that some nare-do-well will decide to kick your door, the mill can set you up with a 1/4 steel back up plate that can go between the stud and the jam. This will, in my estimation, increase the force required to kick open the door by 4 or 5 times.
You might also think about the kind of weather stripping you want. I kind of like the solid bronze strips, if and only if, you get a door thick enough to not interfere with the latch plate.
Also do not forget to paint or seal the top and bottom of the door. This is where the moisture that swells doors enters the wood and if you seal the pores of the end grain your door will stay stable with the changes in humidity.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Roger Shoaf wrote:

I agree that solid wood is the prettiest, and a fine wood front door can be a work of art. And if I had a mansion, or even a small house built to mansion standards (like the houses doctors and lawyers and other professionals commonly had in many small towns 50-75 years ago), I would go that route, because nothing else would look right.
But having said all that- for those of us that live in more-modern cookie cutters, with no covered front porches or mature trees to provide weather shielding, wood doors are a non-starter. With or without a storm door in front of them, they are a maintenance PITA. I'd go with a high-quality steel door with a good finish, properly installed, every time. If I was rich enough, I'd take the brand-new door slab to an auto body shop and have a baked-on finish applied, then install it. The reason many people have trouble with the finish on steel doors, IMHO, is that the thing usually gets painted last in the construction process, after the factory primer has had a chance to weather and get dirty. That is why on high-end custom houses, they use temporary doors until the punch list phase.
Never dealt with fiberglass doors, so can't express an opinion on them, other to say that I hope they hold up better than old boats and RVs, which usually look pretty sad after 10 years or so.
-- aem sends...
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Patrick Cleburne wrote:

If you can afford, quality wood door is the best. It'll outlast you.
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Where do you live. I have had wood doors in the north, where temperatures change dramatically - where they would no longer shut or lock because of swelling. It still happens some with the frames of fiberglass, but wood door - not up here.
--
Dymphna
Message origin: www.TRAVEL.com
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We should have used wood or fiberglass. I wouldn't recommend steel to anyone.
We built a new house with 13 exterior doors. We used what we thought were high quality steel doors - cost was not cheap. They do provide good insulation but we are having an on-going problem with 3 of the doors warping. Latches and deadbolts are constantly sticking from going out of alignment.
Partly, we got ripped off by manufacturer using cheap hinges but part of it is the doors warping slightly with temperature changes. When it gets real cold the latches won't line up well enough and when it warms up again they line up better.
Manufacturer's rep said all steel doors warp when there is a large temp difference from inside to outside. I asked him why they sold such doors in our climate. Didn't they think it would get cold outside? How come 10 dors work fine and 3 don't? So far, they don't want to replace the 3 doors but they have been coming back and re-aligning them frequently. Problem seems to be stabilizing after 3 winters and re-alignments are getting farther apart.
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.net:

re: "Problem seems to be stabilizing after 3 winters and re-alignments are getting farther apart"
Do you think the doors are stabilizing and not warping as much or it is possible that the alignments have always been the problem and they're finally sneaking up on the proper set-up?
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re: "Problem seems to be stabilizing after 3 winters and re-alignments are getting farther apart"
Do you think the doors are stabilizing and not warping as much or it is possible that the alignments have always been the problem and they're finally sneaking up on the proper set-up?
Sounds like bunk to me. Steel will expand 0.00000645 inches for every degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, so if the outside of a 7 foot door was -25F and it was 75F inside, the door would have the outside 0.004515" shorter than the inside.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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That's kind of where I was heading. With only a subset of the OP's doors exhibiting the problem, and the problem slowing going away the more they adjust the doors (just what are they adjusting, anyway?) it sounds like some bad installs, not bad doors.
I've got one steel door into my basement shop and I've never had a problem with "warping". It gets zero-ish where I live, shop is in the high 60's and the door always works fine.
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It is more likely that the door frames are warping and not the doors. The first winter that I had steel doors the locks became a little stiff at about -30 Deg C. I checked the door with a good 6 foot straight edge and the door was straight. The frame however had slightly twisted and that was enough to make the lock "sticky".
Even with the slight twist of the door frame, the magnetic weather stripping maintained a perfect seal.
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I can imagine four doors easily, six in a large house, but where do you have 13 doors? Do you live in a 12 unit motel?
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Get a Thermatrue fiberglass. Many options, sturdy frame and threshold, first class hardware. In one installation, we had to use an outward opening door and that precluded a storm door to help it in a north facing exposure. It has not seemed cold to touch over winter, so the insulation value is likely quite good. A plain paint finish was used, so far no other maintenance. Likely the other major manufacturer's offerings are equivalent.
Joe
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wrote:

A steel door without any lights is probably best. Wood is a better insulator but the maintenance is quite high.
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Thanks for all the suggestions, I think I'll probably go with the Fiberglas...
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