If you’re remodeling a home or building a new home, front door selection will be an important step in this process. When you’re making this selection, however, it’s important to realize that just selecting the door slab itself is only one part of this process — there are actually several important components that make up a front door, and you may have options in each of these areas depending on your needs.
At Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors, we’re proud to offer a huge range of exterior doors to clients throughout Utah, including a variety of front door options to meet all your practical and aesthetic needs alike. What are the important components of a front door to be aware of, both in general and for your purchasing needs? Here’s a primer.
While the door slab itself isn’t the only choice you’ll be making here, it’s likely the most important. Generally speaking, today’s clients choose from one of three materials for their front doors:
- Wood: Wood is a traditional material, bringing with it the classic aesthetic of home elegance. As long as you take care of the wood properly, it will look great for years to come. It’s strong and durable, and it’s easy to customize with paint or varnish. For example, you can stain it for a very on-trend ebony look, or simply paint it an uplifting color to help your home cheer up even on dreary winter days.
- Metal: Generally in the form of aluminum or steel, metal front doors are strong and durable, much like wood. These are also easy to paint or varnish when you want a different look, although you may need to take special precautions to protect the metal surface against rust or oxidation if you do this.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a newer material that is growing in popularity. It’s even more durable than metal and it doesn’t corrode, which makes it an ideal choice for exterior doors exposed to the elements.
Stiles and Rails
When talking about doors, stiles refer to vertical components and rails refer to horizontal components. Stiles and rails are usually made of the same material as your door slab — for example, if you’ve chosen wood, there might be decorative wooden stiles on either side.
Some materials may have different options for stiles and rails, however. For instance, metal doors may have steel or aluminum stiles with galvanized surfaces to resist corrosion. Fiberglass doors may have fiberglass or aluminum stiles.
Many modern front doors also contain glass of some sort, allowing in light and warmth. The most common glass inserts are often made of tempered glass, which is extremely resistant to shattering even if it’s broken. However, more traditional styles may have leaded or stained glass inserts instead.
The main consideration here is that the design of your front door matches up with the style you want for your home as a whole. For example, if you’ve already chosen a Victorian style for your home, choosing an elaborate stained glass insert will make your front door fit this design beautifully.
From a practical standpoint, few components of the front door are more important than the locks. Generally speaking, there are three locking mechanisms used for doors today:
- Cylindrical lock: The traditional locking mechanism, applied through a hole in the stile of the door, the cylindrical lock provides a simple but effective way to lock the door.
- Mortise lock: A lock that’s housed in a recess within the door, and this type adds some security to the traditional look.
- Multi-point lock: A three-point locking mechanism that’s attached to the door’s edge, and is the best option for both security and for keeping a tight door seal against weatherstripping.
In addition, you’ll have a huge range of lock styles to consider. Knobs, thumb latches, handle latches and even electronic keypads are all possibilities you might want to consider — your personal preference will typically be the largest factor here, though certain practical elements may come into play as well.
Also important for the door’s basic operations are its hinges, which attach the door to its frame and allow it to swing freely. As a general rule, most exterior doors will have two hinges on either side of the door — one for each stile, and this provides the best balance of stability and ease of movement.
In addition to standard hinges, you may want to consider “stay-put” designs for your front door. These function very similarly to standard hinges, but they won’t allow your door to open all the way — instead, the door will stop at a certain point where you can easily reach through and unlock it.
The number of hinges may also affect what lock(s) you choose for your front door. For instance, if you want a multi-point locking mechanism, you should try to match this with a multi-point hinge design as well. In particular, look for locks and hinges that are designed to work together — poorly matched options might not function properly after you install them.
There are also a couple weather proofing components that may be present on a front door, including:
- Weatherstripping: The main component used to create a seal against the weather, there are two main types of weatherstripping: foam and rubber. Foam is more durable but is somewhat less effective for long term use, while rubber is best for keeping out drafts in colder climates.
- Door sweep: This item connects to the underside of your door, and it acts as a secondary barrier against drafts. In fact, if you’re looking for the best weatherproofing option, this item is probably the best choice.
Door Sill and Frame
Finally, sitting underneath the door itself is the sill, which protects your home from water or other dampness by providing an elevated barrier in front of the bottom. The most common material for this is aluminum, though you may also find fiberglass doors that have a sill made of the same material.
And of course, no door is complete without a frame, or jamb, to attach it to. Most exterior doors are framed with wood, though vinyl jamb materials are becoming increasingly common.
For more on the important components that make up a front door, or to learn about any of our exterior door materials or accessories, speak to the team at Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors today.