DEAR TIM: I need to replace the outside doors of my home because they are in poor condition. I am very confused as to the type of wood I should use. I love the insulating qualities of solid wood. Different contractors have suggested oak, mahogany, teak and walnut. What type of door would you install if you were bidding the job? Why would you make that particular recommendation? Mary M., Knoxville, TN
DEAR MARY: This is an interesting proposition. Would you consider my proposal if I sold you a door that was a better insulator than solid wood? Would you consider my offer if I could give you exterior doors that would not rot, warp, crack, split or twist as a solid wood door might over time? Would you be interested if these particular doors looked more like wood than wood itself, ones that have realistic grain that matches real wood? Would you be interested if I told you that there was an infinite amount of stain colors and a virtually unlimited amount of door styles and stained and beveled glass options? I thought so.
Before you make up your mind to use solid wood, you should give a serious look at the highest-quality fiberglass exterior doors. These products, in my opinion, are in the top 25 best all-time home building products. They deserve an honored place in the Hall of Fame of truly innovative and superb home building products.
I do not offer this praise lightly. Many products strive to constantly imitate wood. I have seen cheap interior doors that have a bogus wood-grained pattern stamped into them. Who hasn't seen metal doors that have had wood grain embossed in them? Vinyl, aluminum and other sidings for years have had fake wood grain patterns to try to fool consumers. The latest are composite decking materials that are trying their best to imitate real wood. But all have fallen woefully short in my opinion. They are wood impostors.
But the highest quality fiberglass doors successfully imitate real wood. I recently saw an new exterior fiberglass door that was so realistic, it even copied the ultra-fine mitered joint line where two pieces of wood trim cut at 45 degree angles met to make a 90 degree angle. You could actually feel the micro cuts of the wood grain in the fiberglass. It reminded me of some of the new movies where computer simulated scenes are almost impossible to tell apart from a real one.
Add to this the deep, rich custom-formulated stains and clear coat finishing kits and you have a recipe for some of the most beautiful exterior doors I have ever seen. My biggest regret is that these doors were not available when I was building. My customers would have killed to have doors such as these.
The good news is you and they can. Fiberglass exterior doors are not only perfect for new homes, but they are excellent choices for remodeling jobs such as yours. A contractor can easily find a high-quality fiberglass door that will enhance the look of your home much more than you could ever imagine.
These doors are available in a multitude of styles to match any architectural style. I don't care if you have a Queen Anne Victorian home like mine or a southwest adobe mission style home. There is a perfect fiberglass door with or without gorgeous stained or beveled glass.
I can assure you that the next home I build will have fiberglass doors. I love the look and I love the fact they are so low maintenance. If you come to visit me in the future you will undoubtedly touch the door's surface and wonder: Is it real or fiberglass?
Beware, not all fiberglass doors are the same! Only the high-quality fiberglass doors get my praise. There are some low-quality fiberglass doors that just do not offer all of the things I like about the better ones.
Wood doors are superb and all of my current exterior doors are wood. But I have had problems with my wood doors developing cracks and bowing. And this happened even though I followed all of the steps to seal the tops and bottoms of the doors when they were installed. The door leading out of our kitchen must be securely dead bolted in the winter to stop drafts because it is badly bowed and does not meet up against the weatherstripping.
Fiberglass doors are stable. They will not warp, bow or twist. They are foam filled and are excellent insulators. You can apply fancy hardware to them just as you would a wood door. Fiberglass doors can be painted if you so choose. I prefer the rich custom formulated strains myself. I urge you to go look at some high-quality fiberglass doors now. But be careful, they can be intoxicating.