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  1. #1
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    May 2010
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    Default Advice on door shopping

    Hello you wonderful knowledgeable folks.

    I am looking at a new entry door. I am considering steel or fiberglass, like most people. I am leaning towards steel, since my entry door is all but completely protected from the elements, somewhat lessening the wear advantage of fiberglass over steel. Seems to make sense to go with the steel and get the added security. Make sense?

    Even with this said, I want to do my due diligence and look at fiberglass doors anyway. What I'm not sure about is if there are couple of simple parameters that can be used as a 'rule of thumb' to gauge the quality of the door.

    In comparison, steel is pretty simple - I've found that the gauge is a good initial indicator of the quality of door you are getting overall. In my head it goes something like 26 gauge = Yugo, 24 gauge = Chevy, 22 gauge = Cadillac, 20 gauge = Ferarri.

    Any advice?
    Last edited by DougLanglois; 05-15-2011 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Fixing grammar

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    I can tell you that there is no more security with a steel or fiberglass door than you'll get with wood. Steel doors use a wood perimeter frame with a foam core and thin metal sheets over both sides. The weak point is the wood frame, in particular the area around the handset and lock. Also, the jamb is a weak point, a it is the jamb that usually lets loose first when a door is kicked in.

    What I recommend is that you shop for the style of door and look you want over what material the door is made from. If you feel you need additional security, then look at security storm door or a security screen door.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    93

    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    How much do you want to spend?

    I've installed countless steel and fiberglass doors. The gauge of steel has absolutely nothing to do with the overall quality of the door.

    There's a lot more to doors than their skin.

    But if you're not looking to spend a lot, I'd go with a Therma-Tru Smooth Star. Nice door for the money and there a many options to choose from.

  4. #4
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    May 2010
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    65

    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by LIHR View Post
    How much do you want to spend?

    I've installed countless steel and fiberglass doors. The gauge of steel has absolutely nothing to do with the overall quality of the door.

    There's a lot more to doors than their skin.

    But if you're not looking to spend a lot, I'd go with a Therma-Tru Smooth Star. Nice door for the money and there a many options to choose from.
    Thanks for your comments. Understood that there is more to the door than the thickness of the steel. It just seems to be a rule of thumb that that the higher quality components typically come on the doors with the thicker steel skin. If the manufacturer is putting a 26 ga. steel skin, then they probably aren't using high quality thresholds, sweeps, hinges, etc... Likewise if they are spending on 20ga. steel, they are probably coupling it with higher quality components elsewhere. I'm sure there are exceptions to that rule, of course, and I'm not relying on it as the only measure of quality.

    What I'm wondering is if there is a similar rule of thumb for fiber glass doors. I don't really know anything about fiber glass, so I couldn't tell a good quality FG door from a poor one, if they kicked me in the shin and ran away laughing.

    Regarding the budget, it's flexible up to $6,000 (though I'd love to spend a lot less). I want a door + two sidelights which will last me a decade and still look great. I'll spend what I need to to get that, but I don't want to just automatically go for the most expensive option without understanding what I'm choosing.

    I'd love a nice 1/2 or 3/4 light on both door and sides, but if I have to trade off and get a no-glass 6 panel door with 1/2 side lights, then so be it. I'd rather my money went toward quality materials, durability and a reliable install than frufru fancy glass.
    Last edited by DougLanglois; 05-15-2011 at 01:54 PM. Reason: clarification

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    65

    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    I can tell you that there is no more security with a steel or fiberglass door than you'll get with wood. Steel doors use a wood perimeter frame with a foam core and thin metal sheets over both sides. The weak point is the wood frame, in particular the area around the handset and lock. Also, the jamb is a weak point, a it is the jamb that usually lets loose first when a door is kicked in.

    What I recommend is that you shop for the style of door and look you want over what material the door is made from. If you feel you need additional security, then look at security storm door or a security screen door.
    Thanks. Security in my neighborhood is not a big issue so it's not a critical driver to the purchase. My thinking was just that since the door is shielded from the elements I could probably get the same durability from steel as from FG, save myself some cash, and get the extra security as a bonus.

    What you say about the jamb and frame makes a lot of sense, and is one of the reasons I believe in higher quality installs, longer screws extending well into the framing around the jamb, strike plates with the reinforced mortice, etc...

    Security may not be the biggest driver, but it's always a dumb thing to ignore completely!

  6. #6
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by DougLanglois View Post
    Thanks. Security in my neighborhood is not a big issue so it's not a critical driver to the purchase. My thinking was just that since the door is shielded from the elements I could probably get the same durability from steel as from FG, save myself some cash, and get the extra security as a bonus.

    What you say about the jamb and frame makes a lot of sense, and is one of the reasons I believe in higher quality installs, longer screws extending well into the framing around the jamb, strike plates with the reinforced mortice, etc...

    Security may not be the biggest driver, but it's always a dumb thing to ignore completely!
    Definitely shop around, in my experience, steel and FG doors are every bit if not more expensive than wood, though I will admit it's been a while since I've had to buy a door.

    If you're concerned with door security, then you need to do two things, install a security strike, which is a big beefy hunk of metal that gets screwed through the jamb and into the framing, AND install a security door edge on the door itself. A door's weakest point is at the handset/lock, so a reinforcing plate here goes a long way towards preventing break-in. The door plate looks a lot like a taco, a U-shaped piece that slides over the edge of the door past the handset/lock.

    Since we're on the subject of door security, don't skimp on the handset/lock either. Quickset (and it's little sister Titan ), while cheap, won't keep out a Girl Scout, let alone someone bent on breaking into your home. Schlage is a much better choice. You are looking for brands that have heavy duty throws (the part that engages the jamb ).
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    nova scotia, canada
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    1,522

    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    i have installed both high end and low end doors. ranging from $40,000 solid cherry doors with 18" side lights to $200 steel doors from building material clearance centers.

    the things that vary from one to the next other than the color of the door and the direction of the swing are little details that make the differnce

    - jambs and doors that are straight and arent warped, these can affect how well the door closes and how well it seals to the weatherstripping

    - the quality of the bond of the skin, some doors have skins that are poorly bonded and will pull away with direct sunlight when the heat starts to kick in

    - better constructed jambs will have a larger steel plate on the back side of the jamb that reinforces it for strength so it wont splinter if someone tries to kick it in

    anyhow i would look to spend atleast $500, ive installed $200 doors and there were nothing but a pain in the butt which required multiple trips to tweaks to get them to operate correctly

    anyhow, best of luck
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    Anyone here have any experience with Paragon doors?

    Or Viwinco (previously CertainTeed) windows?

    The contractor currently at the top of my short list would be installing these brands.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
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    Default Re: Advice on door shopping

    Great advice above.

    If you are in an area with high humidity, close to a body of water, particularly salt water, go for fiberglass. Steel will rust out when exposed to adverse climatic conditions.

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