For most people, exterior doors provide three things: security, weather protection, and style. There are many different styles to choose from that will allow all three things. You can get paneled, flush, or glass in front entry doors, back doors, French doors, sliding doors, and patio doors.
Types of Doors
Paneled doors are designed to exhibit style while still giving the doors quality. They have raised inserts framed and fitted to allow the wood to expand and contract with the changes in weather so they will not damage over time.
Flush doors are covered with veneer that can range from inexpensive pine to costly exotic wood. The veneer provides smooth unbroken exterior covering on the door.
Glass insert doors can range from small windowpanes in entry doors to full door-size panes in patio doors. When multi-panes of glass are inserted into a door, they are referred to as lights. The doors are then identified by how many "lights" it has. Lights are most commonly found in French doors. Full single panes of glass are considered as atrium or patio doors.
Exterior Door Materials
Exterior doors are constructed from wood, steel, fiberglass, aluminum or a combination of these materials. The standard exterior entry door is three feet wide and six feet, eight inches tall.
Wood is still considered the most popular material used in exterior doors. The types of wood used often include oak, fir, and pine. Vertical rails made from separate pieces of wood and laminated together lengthwise are used to construct the doors to prevent warping in dampness. This process causes warping in opposite directions to avoid bowing of the door.
Steel doors have become very popular due to the security that they provide. Most commonly, they are sheathed with 24-gauge steel. This can be chosen in paneled or flushed styles in a variety of colors. If you have fluctuating weather, you should purchase a weather-resistant steel door with vinyl coating. Steel creates great security, but can be easily dented and will bow and chip easily if exposed to continuous sunlight.
Fiberglass doors are ideal for humid areas. They are resistant to warping and bowing. They require the least maintenance of the door materials available. These doors can be purchased in flush or paneled. There are a variety of colors available to give the doors a natural wood look with faux wood stains and finishes.
Aluminum doors are usually custom made to fit the opening you have. It is a good choice for unique shapes of openings. You can get aluminum in finishes like the fiberglass doors that have a natural wood appearance. Aluminum doors will not rust and usually have a longer warranty, but are lightweight and will dent easily.