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Choosing A Front Door For Beauty, Practicality

“A front door is a long-term investment, so it’s important that you choose a door that you really like,” says Stephen Huebner of North Jersey Door Center in Ramsey. “Before shopping for the door, take a photo of the front of your house so a professional can guide you as to the best style options, and also get some rough measurements so you can get an accurate estimate for the complete job.”

“Try to avoid companies that have high-pressure sales methods,” advises James Cangialosi of Taylor Door in Paterson. “Many large companies have sales teams who come to your home and use high-pressure methods to close the sale. They usually will start with a very inflated price and then offer you what seems to be a deep discount if you sign the papers right there and then.”


According to Huebner, currently two of the most popular exterior door styles sold in North Jersey are Craftsman and Modern.

“A Craftsman-style door has a square of glass on the top third with two vertical panels below,” explains Cangialosi. “Modern-style doors have very simple, clean lines with glass that obscures, such as decorative or frosted.”

While attractive, a door that has a lot of glass might be of concern to many people. Not to worry, says Cangialosi.

“All glass used in a door has to be tempered, which makes it more of a safety glass. Tempered glass is actually three layers of glass as well as metal caming — metal banding that joins panels of glass together. Someone breaking through that door would have to break three pieces of glass, which would be very, very noisy.”


“Steel, wood and fiberglass are the most common materials used in manufacturing doors,” says Huebner. “However, today customers mostly opt for either wood or fiberglass.”

According to Consumer Reports, each of these materials has pros and cons. While inexpensive, steel is strong and energy-efficient. On the flip side, steel is prone to show wear and tear such as scratches and denting, which are not easy to conceal.

“Steel doors were popular at one time, but I really don’t remember the last time I sold a homeowner a steel door,” says Huebner.

Fiberglass wears well and is cost-effective. It can be painted or stained, and it also comes in very realistic embossed wood-grain. One negative is that fiberglass, while dent-resistant, can crack under a severe impact.

“Because fiberglass can be manufactured to successfully imitate a variety of wood grains, fiberglass doors are a popular choice for those remodeling an older home,” notes Cangialosi.

Solid wood doors look posh and are easy to repair if they get scratched. Unfortunately, they are also expensive and require regular varnishing or painting to maintain them looking their best.


“Ninety-five percent of all problems occur during installation,” notes Huebner. “In most cases, it is best to get an experienced professional to hang your door.”

Huebner says that if a problem arises and you bought your door from a store that specializes in doors and installation, they will deal with the problem; if the door and installation were handled by a contractor, then that person may help you deal the issue. But if the door was bought from a big box store, chances are that fixing the problem will be more of a challenge.

Experienced DIY folks can successfully install an exterior door, but in that case Cangialosi suggests purchasing a pre-hung unit.

“With a pre-hung unit, the door, along with a new sill and weather-stripping, is already inside the frame,” he notes. “In a way, you are installing the frame of the door as well as the door, so you are ensured the best possible installation outcome.”

After installing the unit, Cangialosi suggests checking to see whether there are daylight leaks between the door and the frame. If you don’t see any daylight then you know that the weather stripping is making contact all around and is providing a good seal.


Brass hardware on doors was popular for decades, but today people often opt for oiled bronze or satin nickel. A third popular option is chrome.

In addition to material, there is also a wide choice of doorknob and lever shapes to choose from. Buyers are advised to take their time and shop around for a style they like but also meets their budget.

“Electronic hardware is the new wave; key pad entry, keyless deadbolt, and phone-activated hardware, for example,” says Huebner. “It has strong points, however, it can be expensive.”

“When selecting locks, it is wise to stick with the better-known nationwide brands,” suggests Cangialosi.


Most people assume that they need a storm door, but today, with energy-efficient front doors, one can often do without it.

“Storm doors are good if you want ventilation and daylight during the warmer months,” says Huebner. “Aside from that, you really don’t need it.”

However, if your exterior door is fully exposed to the elements, then a storm door would serve to protect it.

“If a storm door is a must-have, consider one with a full-glass panel that will allow the beauty of your front door to be seen,” says Cangialosi.

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