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Choosing the Right Doors for Your Home

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By Gates Dearen

When it comes time to replace the doors on your home, which is more important, form or function?  Don’t answer that question yet, because I have a few things I’d like to tell you about exterior doors.  While all homes have at least two doors, the differences between them can be as stark as night and day. 

Does your front door say welcome home, or keep out?

Take the typical front door, for instance.  While its job is to admit family and friends while repelling burglars, there is so much more to your front door than merely securing your home.  Unless you live in a bunker, your front door can also make a statement about the personality of its owners.  This can be expressed both in the color of the door, as well as by adding decorative touches, such as frosted or etched glass inset in either a square, oval or rectangular configuration.  If you want to elicit a Mediterranean look, consider a glass inset clad in decorative wrought iron.  

Even the door trim and hardware such as handles and doorknobs, come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and material to conform to your home’s architecture.  Whether you’re looking to add ultra-modern brushed stainless steel or retro bronze knobs and number plate, the hardware attached to your front door can do much more than keep intruders at bay.

Does material matter when choosing a front door?

It does if you’re concerned with durability, security, maintenance, energy efficiency, and appearance.  Modern doors are made of either wood, metal or fiberglass.  While most people automatically think of wood when it comes to doors, wood isn’t always the best choice since it’s the most expensive and least durable choice.  Wood doors also require more maintenance and painting, since they typically expand and contract with the seasons.  That being said, wood doors are more architecturally accurate if you’re looking to restore a historic home.

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If your home isn’t on the registry of historic places, a fiberglass door could offer as much eye appeal while all but eliminating such things as painting and maintenance.  Fiberglass doors are almost indistinguishable from their wooden counterparts since they sport simulated wood grain that comes in a myriad of colors.  Plus, you can add decorative glass and other decorative touches without breaking the bank. 

Steel doors are another popular choice. Not only do they look good, steel is ultra-durable.  It won’t warp or crack and is dent resistant.  Best of all, steel doors are not only super secure, they are also usually more affordable than wood or fiberglass doors.

Getting more than curb appeal for your money

While the look of a front door is important, so is security.  That’s another reason many people replace their front and back doors.  If your exterior doors still sport an interior chain latch, you are asking for trouble.  A pair of bolt cutters is all it takes to defeat one of these anachronisms.  Even worse, if a burglar gets to your security latch, your door locks haven’t done their job.  If you go through the trouble to replace your doors, go the extra yard to bolster your door’s security.

If you want your home to be secure, you need to make a burglar’s job tough.  This not only means installing a deadbolt, it means augmenting such things as deadbolt strike plates, as well as door latches and hinges with extra-long screws that won’t allow someone to force your door open with a kick and give no purchase for a crowbar.  If you opt for a metal door, make sure it comes equipped with a lock block that prevents the door being bent by a burglar employing a car jack.  Also, consider installing cylinder guards around the locks to prevent a burglar from hammering or wrenching them out.  Last but not least, replace that old door chain with a security door lock that can’t be cut with a bolt cutter and can withstand 800 lbs. of force.  An added benefit of this kind of burglar-resistant latch is that it also prevents young children from opening the door to wander outside.

Is your patio door putty in the hands of a burglar?

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If you have a patio, you probably have sliding glass doors.  If this is the case, let me point out one undeniable fact.  Spending a fortune securing your front and back doors will do nothing to deter a burglar who sees you have a sliding glass door.  A burglar will always choose the path of least resistance.  Sliding doors have three common weaknesses that can be exploited by thieves.

  1. Most of them have locks that are easy to defeat.
  2. You don’t need to unlock them to get in since it’s child’s play to lift the door off its track.
  3. They’re made of glass which can be shattered or cut.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is you can add aftermarket security elements to beef up the security of any sliding glass door.  Aside from a security bar that keeps the door from sliding open, you can add a loop lock that attaches to the top or bottom of the door to prevent a thief from popping the door off its track.  Last but not least, you can invest a few dollars in a wireless alarm that’s designed to trigger if someone breaks the glass.

If you’re ready to consider replacing your doors, contact us at HomeRite Windows and Doors by calling (904) 296-2515 or visit our showroom at 4801 Executive Park Court, Building 200, Suite 207, Jacksonville; FL 32216. 

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Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. He and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They strive to match homeowners with the right windows and doors for their homes and budgets. They make the home improvement process pleasant with first-rate, energy-efficient products, affordable pricing, and award-winning installers who employ the best practices and who always treat customers and their property with the utmost respect.