What Type Of Front Door Is Best For My Central Florida, Custom Home?
Selecting a front door for an upscale home sounds deceptively easy. It's a lot more complicated than it appears, on first pass. If you are going to try and save money on your home building budget the front entry is the last place to do it, as it sets the tone for the entire home.
I'll limit my discussion to the three most popular materials that are used for front doors in the Central Florida area. Wrought iron, wood and fiberglass.
Steel in another option but not usually suitable for an up market, Custom Home.
A list of the issues to consider:
1. Orientation to the sun.
2. Protection from the elements.
4. Type of threshold.
Orientation To The Sun:
Wood- if your home has an East, West orientation to the sun a wood door is out of the question, in my opinion. The sun and rain are two of the worst enemies of a wood door. I'll address rain below. Direct sunlight, heats the wood and causes warping. When a door warps, it no longer operates or seals properly. The result is severe energy loss.
Wrought iron- holds up well to any orientation of the sun.
Fiberglass- holds up to the sun but not as well as wrought iron.
Protection From The Elements:
Wood- unless your home has at least a 10' deep porch or overhang beyond your door and the entry ceiling is no more than 14’ high, wood is a poor option. When a wood door gets wet it swells and warps, probably in less than a year.
Wrought Iron- Holds up better to water but in the long run rusting and leaking will be an issue if not protected from the weather. With Orlando's sub tropical weather conditions, a door without a substantial overhang is just a bad design idea.
Fiberglass- Since fiberglass doors have an interior wood construction, exposure to water is an issue. Will hold up better than all wood construction but I would not recommend it without a large overhang.
Above is an example of front doors without adequate weather protection.
Wood- if you are determined to have a stained front door then solid wood is the way to go. A soft wood like pine should not be considered. Caution; the taller the door the more likely it is to warp. Nothing over an 8' height.
Wrought Iron- doors can be beautiful, especially with various types of glass inserts but they will never have the look of a wood stained door if that's your choice. They are heavy so using them requires a bit more muscle power.
Fiberglass- may perform slightly better than wood but it will never have the beauty of a wood door, I don't care what the salesman says.
Type Of Threshold:
There are basically 2 types of door thresholds, saddle and bumper. The only reasonable choice for an upscale custom home is a saddle threshold, due to looks and practicality for an in swing door. The drawback to the saddle type, they don't seal well and have to be adjusted periodically. I don't recommend a saddle type threshold on any door that does not have a 10' overhang to protect the door from the elements.
Wood- doors look great when they are new but they require continual maintenance, especially with and east, west orientation. With normal exposure a wood door will require a new clear coat of sealer at least every two years. Even more often with an east-west exposure or inadequate front porch depth.
Wrought iron- requires the least amount of maintenance.
Fiberglass- because the outer shell is fiberglass the door requires little maintenance especially if it''s painted.
Type of finish:
Wood- The obvious choices are stained or painted. Either is acceptable but a dark paint or stain with an east, west orientation is the kiss of death for the door. The darker colors absorb the heat from the sun and cause severe damage to the wood door. Dark colors are a poor choice.
Wrought iron- since you can't stain an iron door the only other choice is paint. It holds up well on an iron door. The little know reason, paint peels off a surface because water gets behind the material and pushes it off. Water can get behind wood but not iron.
Fiberglass- can be painted or stained but I think paint looks better on a fiberglass door. Stain on fiberglass look ok but never looks great and that's what you want at your front door.
Have an awesome day-