What to Consider When Choosing an Exterior Door

What to Consider When Choosing an Exterior Door

May 24, 2021
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
masonite exterior double door

Unlike other elements that are part of the facade of your home, the front door has the power to attract immediate attention. Whether you are choosing a different type of door, building a new home, or thinking of replacing an old door, there are many choices, and you need to keep many factors in mind to make the best possible decision.

These factors range from the material of the door, where the door will be placed, the size and shape of your building, and even the type of the door itself.

Door Location

The front and back doors differ from the interior doors and can have two completely different requirements. Exterior doors should always be made of sturdy material with high-security features. The interior door, on the other hand, should be more on aesthetics and be large enough to be easily used by family members. The size, shape, and purpose of the door are  important factors to consider when choosing the door for your home.

The strength of the door is the most important factor to consider when looking for a front door. Metal, hardwood, or PVC (vinyl) doors are the best choice for front doors because they provide strong and durable protection. With interior doors, you have the option of choosing one that may not be as strong as a front door but more stylish and easier to maintain.

You also need to determine the best location to install glass doors and sliding glass doors. Glass doors may have to be placed in areas that do not face East or West. These areas receive the most amount of light during different times of the day. So, if glare is an issue, it is best to situate doors elsewhere or choose a different type of door. 


Another important factor to consider when choosing a door is cost, and depending on the type of aesthetic design desired, the choice may be limited. Of course, the most economical option is often the most practical.

This could include the cost of purchase, installation, repair, and maintenance. On the other hand, PVC or vinyl doors are inexpensive compared to hardwood doors. They require less maintenance and may miss some of the aesthetic design features that hardwood doors have to offer. Stronger hardwood doors are expensive but can save you money in the long run due to their lower maintenance costs.

The Overall Appearance of the Home

Another important decision is to choose the most suitable material for the front door. The style of the house should be taken into account, and the door should be constructed with modern materials, such as vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass.

patio door double door

Wood Doors

If you choose a wooden entrance door, we recommend adding an additional canopy to ensure that the door retains its natural appearance and original wooden character. Of course, wood requires care and maintenance, but your efforts will be rewarded with its incomparable structure that only natural wood can have.

Aluminum Doors

Aluminum doors can also be traditionally designed and, although they may appear extremely elegant and modern at first glance, choosing the right design and finish can make aluminum look more traditional - making it a suitable choice for traditional homes. Aluminum can be combined with wood and glass, so there are practically no limits to the possibilities for customization.

The fundamental advantage of aluminum is its static stability, which guarantees perfect functionality even with large-format doors. Compared to wood, aluminum is virtually maintenance-free - it only needs to be wiped or cleaned occasionally for upkeep. Aluminum doors, with their low maintenance and long service lives, are becoming increasingly popular for modern homes as they retain their original appearance for years or even decades.

Fiberglass Doors

Durable and virtually maintenance-free, these doors mimic the look and feel of a solid wood door. These doors contain polyurethane foam insulation to fill the voids in insulation capabilities of most steel doors.

Fiberglass composite doors are high-quality doors that can have vinyl coatings for improved weather resistance and wood veneers that can absorb stains. The surface is a polyester finish that is baked and needs to be periodically sealed but is durable.

Steel Doors

front door steeldoor

Steel doors are vulnerable to heat and cold, both of which can be carried by thermal breaks built into the door construction. It is important to pick a type of exterior door that matches the overall aesthetic of a home.

For instance, for houses that have a Gothic design, french doors or speakeasy doors may be better than glass doors or fiberglass doors. It is important that the door design adapts to the general style of the building - the rest of your design requirements is up to your imagination. There are a number of details that make a door look traditional or modern, such as the shape and size of the door frame, as well as its height and width.

New technologies and surface finishes on doors can help achieve a modern look. Regardless of the material chosen, the most popular choice for a traditional home is still the wooden front door as it conveys warmth and comfort, and signals a love for nature. Compared to aluminum, however, it is not as weather resistant. Wood is less resistant to wind and rain than other material types such as fiberglass.

Priorities (Aesthetics, Security, Lighting, Etc.)

Granted, you can get a balance of all with nearly any door, but different types of doors have their own strengths. 

For security: steel or speakeasy are good options. 

When it comes to aesthetics: wood, steel, and vinyl on glass sliding doors and french doors take the lead. 

For lighting: glass doors, fiberglass doors, and doors with sidelights are options you should consider for your home.

Below we discuss more priorities to take into consideration.


If you want your door to be aesthetically pleasing and striking, then you should consider design and quality when choosing the door. The positioning of your door can also have a direct impact on your home’s aesthetics and can fully transform the look and feel of any space. 

exterior double door with design on glass

It’s important to remember that door placement involves not only where the door is positioned but also its handling and swing direction, as both affect how much space can be used in the room while the door is open.


A security feature in which modern entrance doors are made relatively evenly in most door types are its locks. Look for reinforced metal panels for front doors to ensure a reliable locking mechanism. New doors are usually available with a variety of locks, making them practically impenetrable.


Depending on the layout of your house, you will also need to consider how well your front door is lit. In this case, a door with good lighting that is visible from your street or a neighbor’s yard may deter thieves because it gives the impression of a house that is monitored and well looked after. Your door’s visibility and glow can directly influence your home’s overall look. So consider options such as doors with sidelights or door types that allow maximum daylight and expansive views.  You can light up the door handle or door knocker, light up your entrance with LED lights, or light up a window sill to illuminate your entranceway.


Another important factor to consider is the ventilation in the house, which directs doors and windows into rooms and corridors. It can create a wind tunnel effect when the door is open. This is very useful for effective wind ventilation but can also be annoying and uncomfortable when it is too windy. A slight gradation of the doors can interrupt the tunnel flow and reduce airflow. This means that the air cannot pass directly through the rooms of the house, but instead, it circulates air better. A door that opens outwards should only be opened when facing the side of the house sheltered from the wind. External doors that open in a strong storm can place heavy pressure on the hinges and even unhook the door from the frame.


entry door on contemporary house

Another important thing to think about when selecting a door is how much maintenance it would take over time. Maintenance entails not only effort and time but also additional repair and replacement costs.

Some doors are harder to maintain than others. Wood may not warp in San Diego’s heat, but it may need to be repainted every now and then. Glass doors need constant polishing to maintain lighting and visibility.  Steel doors need to be checked for dents and rust.

While some hardwood doors can rot or become infested with termites, they allow users to easily make minor repairs. An aluminum, PVC, or vinyl door will not rust and will remain durable. However,  if there is a problem, it will need to be replaced entirely because there may be no repair options for these material types. As a result, these factors must be considered when making a decision.

The Right One Depends On Your Circumstances And Tastes!

Now you are ready to select the design, which includes the color scheme of the door but preference and taste vary from person to person. Smoother operation, less maintenance, and increased energy savings are all advantages of choosing the right front door. You’ll also have an elegant entrance that will make a lasting first impression. When you are ready to take the next steps after choosing an exterior door or if you need further advice, seek the experts at US window & door, and we can help you out. We provide outstanding support for your home improvement plans and can provide you a free quote*. Contact us today and pick the right door for your home.