1. A steel door: strength above all
In many ways, steel offers the best value for money—but beware, it’s easily damaged!
- Pros - Stability, insulation, airtightness, durability, variety of styles—this type of door offers no shortage of qualities. Made of two steel skins assembled over a wood inner frame with the cavities filled with insulating polyurethane foam, a steel door makes for compact, complete panel that resists deformation. Another much-appreciated feature: flexible, magnetic-seal weatherstrip on the lock side and along the top.
- Cons - A steel door is vulnerable to holes and dents, which are difficult to fix. And be sure to repair any scratches as soon as possible, to prevent rust.
Good to know
Insulation - If the door has recessed panels, its insulating value will be reduced. Look for a door with Energy Star certification (see inset), which measures the overall energy efficiency of the door and frame.
Steel - Hot-dipped galvanized steel is a great option, as it prevents corrosion. Choose a 24-gauge steel door with a white-primed surface, ideally covered with two coats of finish paint.
Frame - Steel doors are factory-assembled with a wood frame coated in aluminum on the outside and vinyl on the inside (or aluminum on both sides, a more expensive option). The aluminum, available in several colours, makes it more difficult for thieves attempting to break in.
- Door frames are 1¼, 1½ or 15/8 in. thick, typically with a 7¼ in. or 9¼ in. jamb depth. If your entrance requires a deeper jamb, the installer will make up for the gap using an extension moulding.
- Double or triple door, or with sidelights: demand structural (one-piece) assembly rather than modular, for greater stability.
Sill - The sill must be properly sealed underneath and at the edges, have a slope, and include drainage holes to remove water. Sills are most often made of wood clad in anodized aluminum (to guard against corrosion), with a thermal barrier in PVC.
Glass - Glass will reduce the insulating value of the door, but contributes to solar gains during the day. If the glass is low-emissivity (low-E), the door’s overall heat efficiency will still be good. Door glass has different levels of opacity (privacy), so in the showroom, take the time to assess how much transparency you want, to avoid disappointment. Sealed units with stained glass use triple glass.
Regardless of the type of door…
• Hinges - Choose ball-bearing hinges for longer operational life.
• Need a permit? - Before selecting a door model, check whether your municipality requires an installation permit, and whether there are restrictions on the type of door you can install. Note that the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC 2010) in force in Quebec requires that door installation be compliant with the CSA‐A440‐4/07 standard as well as the manufacturer’s specifications.
• Energy Star - For maximum energy efficiency, make sure to choose an Energy Star–certified door. To find out which standard applies in your region, click here.
2. Wood: more traditional, but…
Traditional, yes, but easier to repair.
- Pros - Wood lends timeless cachet to many prestige buildings and homes. A wooden door is easier to repair and, unlike a steel model, allows for installation of a screen door.
- Cons - A wooden door is expensive, requires periodic maintenance, has poorer insulating quality, and is vulnerable to inclement weather. If insufficiently protected, it can warp or rot.
Good to know
To ensure solidity - Choose quality: thick stiles, rails and mullions, robust assembly (e.g., mortise and tenon), laminated wood panels, etc. An efficient weatherstrip and a multipoint lock (e.g., with three bolts) will help ensure the door stays straight. Paint or stain the door regularly. If there is a wide roof overhang or porch roof, the door will be better protected.
Sun and water concerns - The sill, especially if it is wood, must be elevated to prevent prolonged exposure to water. A granite or aluminum-covered sill is a durable option.
Wood-steel hybrid - If you only need a wood surface on the inside, a wooden door with an extruded aluminum outer skin is an interesting choice.
3. Fibreglass: a good solution
The warmth of wood without the maintenance worries.
- Pros - Available in smooth or simulated woodgrain finishes, fibreglass doors are a good alternative to wood if you are looking for the same warm appearance but without the maintenance hassles. A fibreglass door’s qualities approach those of a steel door, while the foam-insulated interior provides an advantage over wood; fibreglass also resists temperature variations better than wood.
- Cons - Costs more than steel. Can crack under severe impact.