Choosing an Exterior Door

A new front door can be a great investment in your home’s overall value. By installing the door yourself, you can also save on the initial cost. There are several types of doors to choose from, including steel, solid wood, fiberglass and MDF. Each material has advantages and disadvantages depending on your aesthetic and practical vision. Below is more information about the types of front doors on the market.


Steel doors offer excellent durability for a low price. Very simple steel doors are as cheap as $150 while higher-priced models go for up to $400 at major retailers. Steel is your best choice if you’re most concerned about security against intruders, but it’s not too much sturdier than wood or fiberglass in this regard.

When it comes to durability against weather and traffic, steel doors fare less well than wood or fiberglass. In a doorway exposed to heavy rain or salty air, a steel door’s lifespan may be no more than seven years, and dents on steel doors are easy to get and costly to repair. For these reasons, wood and fiberglass may be better choices in areas exposed to heavy traffic or severe weather.


Wood is sturdy as well as high-class, but its price reflects these advantages. Homeowners who want the handcrafted look of solid wood at their front entrance can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000. Wood requires more maintenance than other doors, although scratches are actually easier to repair on wood doors compared to dents affecting steel or fiberglass doors. Since many modern doors are made using stile and rail construction, they easily expand and contract with weather changes.

Homeowners concerned about the environmental impact of using wood can buy doors certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council as coming from sustainably grown and harvested wood. To verify the energy efficiency of a wood door, look for its Energy Star rating.


Fiberglass doors are durable and long-lasting, and the nature of fiberglass means that a huge range of textures can be produced, including ones that closely mimic wood. Unlike steel and wood, fiberglass rarely needs maintenance to keep it free of dents and scuffs. Unlike wood, fiberglass doesn’t expand or contract nearly as much in response to changes in humidity and temperature. As a result, a fiberglass door can last for decades on a porch that gives a normal amount of protection.

Fiberglass also gives a surprising amount of security. It may feel lightweight, but it has a sturdy coating and a foam core that gives a high level of density as well as insulation.

Medium Density Fiber

Medium density fiber, usually called MDF, is a type of wood product made from pressed wood fibers that are recycled, making it an environmentally friendly option. Compared to wood, MDF doors have a surface that is smoother, making it perfect for expressive painting techniques. Exterior doors are commonly made with water-resistant MDF that is resistant to warping thanks to a special locking system. As an ultra-versatile construction material, MDF makes a huge range of architectural designs possible.

In addition to the differences in durability and design, energy efficiency varies between doors of all types. However, it can be difficult to tell how energy efficient a door is based on its appearance. Instead, look for an Energy Star label and search for information on a door’s solar heat gain coefficient and U-factor value. By choosing an energy-efficient door and hanging it yourself, you can save lots of money on a project that can improve your home’s value in the long run.