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  • Writer's pictureSara Johnson

What are the Best Exterior Doors?

A single front exterior door with for panels of glass and two sidelights stained in a dark brown color.
Exterior Wood Door with two sidelights

Long ago, there was only one type of door in existence — wood. Today there are thousands of different styles made up of a few different materials. Unlike doors of the past, today’s doors are designed to last. But depending on the style of home, location of the door, security needs, and budget, some doors may be better for your project.

In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of each door type.

Door Material Types

It’s important to discuss the materials doors are made of because it will directly impact the longevity of your door. Depending on your home décor style and location of the door, certain materials are better to use than others.

Doors comprise these five materials:

  • Steel or Iron Doors

  • Fiberglass Doors

  • Wood Doors also known as engineered wood doors

  • Aluminum

  • Vinyl doors

**We won’t discuss the pros and cons of each material in this article, but you can read a few of them here.

Is Fiberglass or Wood Better for Exterior Doors?

Both fiberglass and wood doors are great for exterior doors. However, one outperforms the other—fiberglass.

In terms of durability, fiberglass doors are the better pick. Why? There are strong and weather-resistant. As opposed to their wood cousins, they’ll stand up in high-traffic or areas of your home that receive moister from things like sprinklers.

Unfortunately, wood doors are do not handle moist or coastal climates well without constant maintenance. You may be surprised to learn that most companies will not give warranties on wood doors. Why? Wood doors will expand and contract with temperature variances. Therefore, fiberglass will win the durability challenge.

Maintenance is relatively easy for fiberglass doors. There are easy to clean and resistant to fading, rotting, and warping.

Wood doors require periodic refinishing or painting to maintain their look. As stated above, they are more prone to expansion issues. And you have to protect them from the elements to prevent things like rot.

As for the aesthetics, wood doors are hands down beautiful pieces of art. The wood grain will bring a natural element to any home. On the flip side, fiberglass doors can be made to look like wood. If you’re looking for low maintenance, you can have the best of both worlds.

As for cost, fiberglass doors are usually more expensive than wood doors. But the costs depend on the size, design, and features of the door.

Clearly, fiberglass is a better option, but what about metal doors?

Which is Better, Metal or Fiberglass for Exterior Doors?

Things get a little tricky when comparing metal doors to fiberglass doors because you have to consider the type of metal, steel or aluminum.

Steel doors are extremely durable and can withstand high-traffic, weather, and extreme climates. Aluminum doors are also durable, but may not be great for high-traffic areas of your home. Why? They are prone to dents. Fiberglass doors may not be as durable as steel, but they are more durable than their aluminum cousins.

In terms of maintenance, steel and aluminum doors require little maintenance. In most cases, they are resistant to weathering, rust, and corrosion. Fiberglass doors are also low-maintenance but may require cleaning occasionally to maintain their appearance.

Fiberglass can be made to look like wood, which makes them a popular choice. Plus, there is a style suited for every home. Iron doors are better suited for modern or industrial styled homes. Aluminum doors, while available in a wide variety of styles, are more limited than fiberglass doors.

Cost is always a contributing factor in door choices. Iron doors are the most expensive doors to purchase and install. Aluminum doors are usually the cheapest door to install. While fiberglass doors run somewhere in the middle. It all depends on your style choices and the size of your door.

What Type of Door Lasts the Longest?

Most exterior doors can last up to fifty years or more, but the lifespan of any door depends on many factors, including the direction the door faces. For example, if your home faces west, you will probably need maintenance more than a door facing north. This is because of being in direct sunlight, which can and will warp your doors. But overall fiberglass and steel doors are the best choices for their strength and durability.

What type of Exterior Door is the Most Energy Efficient?

R-value measures the door’s resistance to heat flow. Fiberglass are engineered to have high R-value. This makes fiberglass doors the best choice in climates where heat loss or gain is of concern. Steel doors also have a high R-value and are an excellent choice if energy efficiency is your primary concern. Wood doors can be made energy efficient if they are properly sealed and weather-stripped.

Keep in mind that the style of a door will also determine the level of energy efficiency. Dutch doors or doors with glass, for example, will generally have a lower R rating than a solid door.

What Doors are Hard to Break Into?

Steel and aluminum doors are by far the hardest doors to break into. As long as the frame is also metal, you’ll have the best security possible. Fiberglass are also strong, but with wood frames are not as secure as a steel or aluminum doors.

If security is important, you can always add a security screen or storm door to a fiberglass or wood door to increase their durability. It’s important to remember that no door is completely secure, so it may be best to add a home security system for peace of mind.

How Do You Choose an Exterior Door?

In order to choose a door, you need to determine your needs and your budget. Keep referring to this blog to help you with your decision.

When considering your doors needs evaluate how important the following is to you:

  • Style of your home

  • Security

  • Energy efficiency

  • Noise reduction

  • Location of the door

Once you’ve made this determination, decided how much you’re willing to spend. If you need help to decide on a budget or you need to know door cost, check out these blogs.

By following these steps, you can choose an exterior door that meets your needs, fits your budget, and enhances the look and feel of your home.

If you need expert help and are looking to install a new exterior door in the Orange County area, contact us to receive a free quote.


Sara Johnson is an author and content creator


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