Doors: How to choose the right front door?

Your front door is the first thing that most people notice about your home, so choosing the right one is as big a decision when creating your dream home as the colour of your walls or the style of your kitchen.

The options for doors are now so vast it can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we have created this list of five key points to help you pick the right door for your property.

It is worth bearing in mind when you start looking at the doors (and windows) for your property that if it is in an already populated area, there may be planning restrictions on what styles, materials and colours can be used to make your home fit in with surrounding ones.

1. Materials and glazing

There are three main material options most commonly used for modern external doors with each having their own traits when it comes to their energy efficiency and security.

UPVC

  • UPVC is the one of the most common materials used for modern external doors due to the cost effective nature of the material. Often referred to as ‘plastic’ doors, they are lightweight, secure, and relatively well insulated. They can be made to look like wood and other finishes in some respects also. UPVC doors are also designed for double glazing and multipoint locks meaning they are secure too. However, they have their disadvantages too, particularly in that they tend to be narrow due to the thicker frame required and changing the size of the door further down the line would likely be a costly and time consuming process. It should also be noted that plastic contributes hugely to climate change and the less dependant on plastics we become, the better.

Composite

  • Composite doors tend to be the most expensive option (with the exception of artisanally crafted timber doors) but the reality is that you get what you pay for. Composite doors are considerably stronger than wood or UPVC and the most secure option too. The door is made of a solid wood core and finished externally usually with an aluminium panelling, meaning they are low maintenance and high in thermal efficiency. They also have the benefit of not requiring a wide frame like UPVC meaning the doors themselves don’t need to be as narrow. However, one complaint often levelled against composite doors is that they tend to creak as they heat up and cool down throughout the day – for most homeowners this is nothing more than a pet peeve, but it is something worth considering.

Wood

  • Traditional timber doors tend to only be used on rare occasions where there is a planning requirement or where their aesthetic is particularly desired. They are strong and durable – evidenced by the fact that they have been used for centuries and they are easy to maintain yourself with basic tools and materials. However, they will need to have paint or varnish reapplied regularly and tend to weather easier than other materials. Glazing is also available for solid timber doors. Also if you are considering glazing in your door then double glazed panels can be used increasing their efficiency. 

It is worth asking the manufacturer directly if you are interested in a custom colour as many will be happy to provide you with a one-off door in a surprisingly short timeframe.

Likewise, glass in doors will likely be energy efficient double glazing and is also available in a vast range of shapes, sizes and finishes to strike a balance between privacy and security and allowing light to fill your entranceway.

As mentioned above, there may be planning requirements, particularly for renovations, which mean you are limited to a particular colour of door or in some extreme cases, to using traditional wooden doors.

Related Content: What restrictions do I need to consider when choosing my windows for a listed property?

2. Hardware and security

Each door material has security considerations to keep in mind. Simply put, though, modern materials allow for modern security, so most types of doors are designed for multipoint locking systems which secure the door at various points along its edge. In fact this can form part of building warrant requirements in terms of securing your property.

A spy hole is also a worthwhile addition along with a security chain, however if you really want to boost your security, you could consider swapping the traditional doorbell for a video system such as those offered by Ring or Google Nest which let you monitor who is at your door using cameras and motion detectors.

3. Energy efficiency

Your doors contribute to around 3% of the heat lost from your home, with windows responsible for an additional 10%, so choosing the wrong door can cost you money in more ways than one, particularly if your heating thermostat or programmer is located in the hallway and susceptible to draughts.

As part of the UK government’s commitment to improving energy efficiency all doors are required to meet performance standards and are awarded a specific ‘U’ value and rated from ‘E’ to ‘A++’ based on the materials chosen for the frame and the glazing.

Thermal efficiency is not just about keeping your house warm in winter – your home will be cooler in summer with a well-insulated modern front door, saving you energy bills all year round. You may also find that a new door can reduce noise which may be particularly useful if you are near road traffic.

Remember that thermally efficient doors make your home more comfortable at a lower environmental and economic cost. 

Related Content: Which windows are most energy efficient? A simple guide to making the right choice.

4. Tying it all together

If you are choosing your door as part of a package alongside window frames, then it is important to remember that customisation available from one manufacturer, might not be from another. So if you are choosing a custom door colour and want your windows to match, you might find it difficult if the company manufacturing it doesn’t make windows too. Its sensible to use the ‘RAL’ colour charts when selecting colours for windows and doors as these will, on the most part be industry standard.

That being said, a statement front door is on-trend, and even cookie cutter new build estates are being designed with vibrant colours for the doors while the window frames are a more restrained hue – so there is space to be bold when planning your work.

Related Content: Window Styles; a guide to the most popular

5. Cost and guarantee

The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is just as apt for doors as any other item in your home. Materials, custom colours, upgraded security, reinforced frames, or other extras will all increase the value of your purchase as well as the cost.

Over the many years of your ownership there will be a significant return on the initial cost. A front door which is initially cheap will need to make savings using lower quality materials, manufacture or installation which may affect structure, insulation and security and will likely need to be replaced a lot sooner than one which is initially expensive, but which is built better with quality materials.

A well-designed front door installation will provide an effective barrier to the extremes of cold and heat, draughts and leaks, and will reduce your power bills. There may also be modest savings in terms of the need for less artificial lighting, better cooling and maintenance.

The better the door the better the warranty too, so look out for products with a 10-year guarantee that covers a range of potential issues you might encounter over the next decade. It is also worthwhile checking if the warranty is transferable with the house should you sell during the warranty period.

However, your budget will dictate what door you can afford without compromising on other areas of the project, so the best advice would be to go for the best quality door you can afford.

Next steps

Now we have set out the five main points to consider when shopping for your new front door, you should take time to weigh up the pros and cons of each and note down a shopping list of ‘must haves’ for your project – we’d be happy to help with this. For more information or to discuss your project get in touch with us by calling 01674 672064 or email info@crawfordarchitecture.co.uk.