Get a handle on buying right door
By wire services
Published June 5, 2005
A front door is one of those purchases that can be far more complicated than you ever imagined. If you're trying to upgrade your home's look with a new front door - or with back or side doors, for that matter - should you opt for steel, fiberglass or wood? What about glass inserts? And when does it make sense to spend extra?
1. SPEND LESS ON DOORS OF STEEL. Steel doors are your least expensive option; they can cost about $135, while their fiberglass and wood counterparts can cost as much as five times that. Steel doors generally provide the same level of security and weather-resistance as fiberglass or wood, but they show more wear and tear.
2. FIBERGLASS CAN BE A GOOD BET. Wood doors are beautiful and even more resistant to wear and tear, but they typically don't do as good a job of resisting bad weather as fiberglass doors do. 3. IS GLASS RIGHT FOR YOU? You can spruce up your home's curb appeal by choosing a front door with attractive glass inserts. That said, fancy glass inserts can increase the door's price dramatically, and glass near the door's knobs or lock can jeopardize security.
4. OPT FOR AN ADJUSTABLE THRESHOLD. No matter what kind of door you buy, get an adjustable threshold to go with it. This is a tube that runs along the threshold where the door stops. Because it can be adjusted to fit the bottom of the door precisely, it does a good job of keeping the area weather-tight over time.
5. DO SOME DUE DILIGENCE ON THE INTERNET. Before you visit a retailer in person, check manufacturers' Web sites to learn about available materials and pricing. You also can order catalogs online and even watch how-to installation videos.
6. MEASURE YOUR DOOR CAREFULLY. Unless you want to tear apart your entire front entryway and redo the door's framing from scratch, be sure to choose a new door that is the exact size of your old one. Also, hanging a door correctly is a highly challenging project, so you might want to hire a professional to install it.
7. YOUR LOCK REALLY MATTERS. You usually have to buy knobs and a lock separately when you invest in a new entry door. Choose a dead-bolt lock with a horizontal bolt that's at least 1 inch long, and buy a reinforced strike plate that's at least one-eighth-inch thick.
8. DON'T WORRY ABOUT ENERGY EFFICIENCY. Differences in doors' insulating values aren't too significant - a detail to keep in mind as you're shopping around.
9. KNOW HOW TO SPOT AIR LEAKS. Move a lighted candle around your door and watch for the flame to flicker. If it does, you've got a leak. You can fix leaks for very little money by either recaulking around the outside of the door or by adding a door sweep and weather stripping.
10. CONSIDER A REPAIR INSTEAD OF A REPLACEMENT. Is your door in such bad shape that it must be replaced? If not, you could save big bucks by upgrading the knobs and lock, installing a kick plate, fixing squeaky hinges with a little bit of oil, or carefully planing or sanding a wood door so it stops sticking in the jamb. Fresh paint or a new coat of polyurethane will finish the job.
- Sources: Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) U.S. Department of Energy (www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo)
[Last modified June 4, 2005, 09:19:03]
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