Exterior doors. Steel of Fiberglass?

Not exactly a woodworking question, but who better to ask.
I'm in the market for 5 new entry doors for my house. Choises are steel, smooth fiberglass and wood grained fiberglass. (I guess wood is an option, but I didn't price any of those.)
Price roughly doubles as you move from steel to smooth fiberglass, and doubles again when you move to wood grained fiberglass.
So who's got an opinion about the material and if its worth the price jump. Who makes a good door? a bad door?
thanks
p.s. If you want to write up a quote, I need one 3-0(36"), three 2-8(32"), and one 2-6(30") fire door, all with 5 1/4" jams, no brick mold.
p.p.s. Any leads on a replacement for the 6-8 double door for the back of my garage.
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Without question, fiberglass is superior to steel, but I'm biased.
I built a fiberglass, not a steel boat.
Is it worth a 2:1 cost difference?
If you plan on staying in the house, yes.
Wood grained fiberglass requires a more complex mold, thus higher cost.
Ask yourself a question:
If you chose steel, wouldn't it be smooth?
If so, why not smooth fiberglass?
Lew
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All these wood-grained accouterments make me scratch my head. When you side a house with clapboard, the clapboard, if wood, is smooth. If vinyl, it's grained. Of course, that may have something to do with how cheesy vinyl looks when smooth.
My fiberglass front door is grained, and "oak" colored. I'll paint it someday soon, I guess, but with the oval glass, that's going to be a PITA. I can pop the hardware before painting, but I'll be triple dipped if I want to remove the glass.
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Unless you are going to do this yourself, I would just go to a local contractor and start there with him.
All steel doors are not the same, nor are their cores. The same with fiberglass. The skins on both steel and fiberglass vary quite a bit in thickness as do the composition of their cores and their respective "R" ratings.
Ditto if you get prehung. With the actual product varying all across the map, so do the prices. And since you will be relying on pricing in your area as well as the exact manufacturer of the units sold locally, it would be a bit of a stretch to make a qualified remark.
You should also consider your finishing skills. When I do a steel entryway door, I use commercial alkyd paints mixed with different thinners and a metallic hardener and sprayed in multiple coats. I found no one wants to see brush strokes from using a can of Rustoleum on a brand new door.
Fiberglass can present its own problems with adhesion, and with latex finishes, no matter what the manufacturers say, I have always had problems with adhesion in high traffic areas.
Staining fiberglass to look like wood.... take a class if they offer it. Getting the color on isn't difficult, but getting it on evenly on a semi slick surface is a trick. Then of course, you have to seal it.
Good luck.
Robert
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I put in a Pella wood grained fiberglass door a couple of years ago (new construction). We painted it and it looks great.
Len ---------------------
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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Gullible me.
Here I thought they would all use a standard urethane core.

Time for the marine finishes.
High build epoxy primer followed by some good L/P which can be applied with a mohair roller and tipped with a good brush.
Lew
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You and me both. But after doing a lot of emergency repairs (kick- ins) and replacements, I found that the insides range anywhere from loose laid panels of styrofoam (sometimes glued to one side), random squirts of urethane on the perimeter, all the way to solid urethane cores.
I have even seen them where there is nothing in them except materials glued in place to stiffen them up in the center and at the door lock hole. (Hint: When you see an $89 metal entry door, think of this..)

The material I am using is rated for marine use. It is a modified urethane product, and you are right. It is perfect. It dries hard, hard, hard. It is extremely abrasion resistant, and it looks like it was baked on in a factory.

OK... now you overshot me. I don't know how to apply that stuff, and I don't know anyone that would pay for it! My favorite is about $55 a gallon (Coronado "Corotile" from their industrial line) and is rated for "medium" industrial use for manufacturing and processing plant application.
I can't imagine what your stuff would cost or how much it would cost to apply it.
Just trying to make a living here, Lew.
;^)
Robert
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IMHO, a solid urethane core should be the minimum specfication.
After that, look at the skins.

About the only thing more expensive than marine L/P are aviation coatings.
Before crude oil prices went bonko, good marine L/P was about $200/gal.
You can apply it with a mohair roller (1/4" nap) on a phenolic core.
Based on your description, stick with what you are using<G>
Lew
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*cough* *choke* *gasp*
Crap! I don't know a homeowner that would let me build in that kind of finishing price. Couple with he fact that it probably has to be colored at the plant and shipped, that would be an exciting day to get the invoice on that stuff!!

Wow... no kidding. Like I said, just trying to make a living over here...
Robert
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Gives a whole meaning to that Texas phrase, "High Cotton"<G>.

Only if the H/O wanted the front door to color match their boat<G>.

Just curious, how does the door manufacturer finish a F/G door?
Gel coat, raw glass, paint primed, paint primed and finished?
Lew
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Depends on the door. Given the color and the way mine is flecking, I'd say chocolate chips thinned with horse piss.
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There are a few that sell them finished, but less and less. The prefinished doors are too easy to damage in transit, and by the folks that sell them.
So (like Thermatru, Jeld Wen which are a couple sold around here) they sell finishing kits. The kits have a tiny (but good quality) can of stain, and a water based poly with their respective names on it. The stain is great, but the top coat isn't.
Currently, no one in town sells prefinished doors unless they are solid colored. In that case, one of the doors I saw a few months ago had a dark brown gel coat and from looking at the edges it was probably a colored resin as well. The homeowner told me it came in a bark brown, hunter green, and merlot.
The fiberglass doors I have finished have some kind of strange "paint grip" type of finish on them. It isn't a good marine grade gel coat, and it isn't UV resistant. It isn't smooth, but it isn't rough, either. When it isn't finished, it will hold up for a year or so, then the finished powders, and you are screwed. Whatever that stuff is (mold release?) it isn't made to be left in the raw.
But if you clean it and finish it right away, it seems to do well, but only with solvent based finishes. No matter what they do to the surface, waterborne just doesn't stick as well. The stuff they send with the door kit I usually toss. I don't know whose product it is, so I won't use it.
As a sidebar, I have gone to many client's houses that have steel doors installed, and they thought the priming was the protective finish! Surprisingly, it does quite well, and a good cleaning and you can start finishing if there is no rust. I have finished doors that have probably been installed for 2 - 3 years with no adverse effects to the top coat of paint.
Robert
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One possible explanation for that is a universal lack of color sensibility.
In my house the missus is the color expert. I am the color idiot/savage, according to the resident color expert.
Soooo......, to a lot of folks, a primer coast may look like a finish color/coat. But even I think I can tell a primer coat from a finish one.
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I recently installed a new front metal-clad door for a client. The warranty was void if it wasn't painted within (I seem to recall) three months.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
  Click to see the full signature.
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That would make a lot of good sense. From what I understand, that primer is some kind of specially formulated super fast dry stuff, with little or no resins in it for any kind durability.
Since you are "up the road" from me in San Antonio, do you mind me asking what you use for finish on your metal doors?
I would love to hear what you are charging these days for a standard entry installation with new trims, with the door and trims painted, if you don't mind. I'll swap pricing with you if you want.
If you don't want others to see, I can be reached at snipped-for-privacy@cansbcglobal.net
just take out "the trash" and the "can" at the end if you are interested.
Thanks -
Robert
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I worked for 2 different window and door companies a few years back, and if the doors were painted any dark colour the warranty was also void - as was it if a "storm door" was installed (heat build-up issues)
The best finish was a sprayed catalyzed automotive enamel - and we had a LOT of them done by a couple of automotive paint shops.
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I'll bet you can!
I got a chuckle out of that one. Most of the folks I run into that don't paint are just HOPING that the flat finish on the door is actually some kind of protective finish.
I think they all know better.
Robert
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On Thu, 19 Jun 2008 17:11:01 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@detroit.usa.com"

We have already replaced one steel door on the north side of the house (water heater) with another steel door. On the south side of the house, we replaced the steel entry door with a fiberglass door. Beinf world-class procrastinators, we haven't yet applied any finish to the fiberglass door. So far, it looks fine.
Ed
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