Exterior doors play a vital role in the comfort, security, and appearance of your home. They are the focal point of curb appeal, the first impression for visitors, and help keep out the elements and unwanted visitors. That is why deciding on the door material and type for your renovation project can feel overwhelming— but it doesn’t have to be.

Each door material has unique advantages and drawbacks. Understanding your overall needs, such as a door that needs to stand up to intense humidity or one that can provide optimal insulation in cold climates, for example, will help you in selecting the perfect door.

We can help you compare and contrast the most common door materials on the market.

Table of Contents

The Most Common Door Materials

Steel

If you are looking for a door that will provide your home with maximum security from the outside elements or intruders, consider a steel entry door.

Steel doors are:

  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Stronger than most other materials.
  • Energy-efficient thanks to core insulation.
  • Weather-resistant, which protects your home from the elements and also decreases the likelihood of the door warping over time.
  • Require little maintenance.

While steel doors require little maintenance compared to their counterparts, they can be susceptible to dents or scratches that can eventually expose them to harsh weather.

Fiberglass 

Fiberglass doors are becoming a more popular option for homeowners thanks to their durability and aversion to weather damage. They also offer long warranties, ensuring your door will be protected for years to come.

Fiberglass doors are:

  • Easy to install.
  • One of the most durable door materials available.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Energy-efficient.
  • Weather-resistant.
  • Available in different wood grain textures to mimic the look of a real wood door.
  • High-quality composite construction makes fiberglass an ideal choice for extreme climates and high-traffic entrances.

Wood 

Wood doors are the standard choice for many homeowners and are often viewed as the most desirable of door materials thanks to their beauty and aesthetics.

Wood doors are:

  • Heavy and sturdy, that offer homeowners a traditional, elegant look.
  • Secure and dent-resistant.
  • Available with or without glass features.
  • Highly customizable.
  • A wide range of woods to fit any budget — from less expensive composite woods or pine to the more luxurious mahogany or maple.

Despite their prestige, wood doors — especially those lacking a sufficient overhang — can be impacted over time by the elements. This means that a wood door will require regular maintenance in order to keep it looking as nice as the day you buy it. In order to protect it from warping, rotting or expanding, a wood door will require occasional repainting and staining every couple of years.

Less Common Door Materials

Aluminum 

Aluminum doors are most commonly used for storm or patio doors (more on those below), but they are sometimes used as a standard entry door. If used as a front door, they need to be custom-built for your home which can greatly increase their price.

Aluminum doors are:

  • Resilient. They do not rust and don’t require repainting.
  • Offer long warranties, sometimes up to 20 years.
  • Low maintenance.

Vinyl 

Vinyl is often used as an option for patio doors, but their use as a front entry door material has been increasing. 

Vinyl doors are:

  • The lowest-priced door material option.
  • Energy-efficient.
  • Extremely weather-proof.
  • Require little maintenance.

Other Exterior Door Types 

When planning your exterior door home improvement project, the front door will likely get all the attention, but it’s not the only door that might be in need of replacement. New patio doors can offer a refreshed access to your backyard, deck or patio, and come with great views from your home’s interior.

Additionally, you might consider adding storm doors to your home for added protection from extreme weather conditions.

French Patio Doors

French patio doors offer your home a touch of elegance with highly-customizable glass insert options, as well as the ability to make them swing inside or outside, feature left- or right-handed hardware, or opt to have only one of the doors open. 

These doors are typically made from aluminum, vinyl or wood, and feature the same benefits as their respective front door materials. French doors also provide more security and privacy than their sliding patio door counterparts.

Sliding Glass Patio Doors

Sliding doors are the most common style of patio door due to their lower cost and function — operating much like a large window that invites ample sunlight and fresh air into your home. These doors operate on a set of tracks and are often made from aluminum, wood or vinyl.

One important consideration when selecting sliding glass doors is ensuring they include maximum security features such as security bars or reinforced glass.

Storm Doors

A storm door might seem clunky or obnoxious to some, but they serve very important purposes that can help better protect your home and offer an additional layer of energy efficiency. These doors can are often steel, composite or aluminum, and come in a variety of styles including glass and screen options.

  • Steel 
    • Extremely durable and resistant to cracking and warping.
    • Most expensive and heaviest option.
  • Composite
    • The best option for energy efficiency.
    • Great protection from storm conditions (rain, wind, etc.), but not as suitable for extreme heat or cold.
  • Aluminum
    • Durability is comparable to that of steel storm doors.
    • Excel at protecting homes from extreme heat and cold.

Hire a Quality Door Contractor

There are many options when it comes to selecting the materials and types for your external door project. This list can serve as a starting point to help you understand the benefits of each door material, but working with a trusted contractor, such as those available through Modernize, will help you narrow down what door is the best fit for your home and budget.