The choice is doors: What’s that knocking? The opportunity to make a great impression

The choice is doors: What’s that knocking? The opportunity to make a great impression

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards saw a red door and wanted it painted black. But if the Stones had the kind of options that are available today, who knows? Maybe they’d have wanted a six-panel, deep purple door with sidelights, a dark bronze weather strip and a composite adjustable sill.

“When we order a door, there are quite a few options that people don’t even think about,” says Rich Kniatt, a sales manager with Better Living in Charlottesville. “Pricing, weather stripping, sill options, bore options, jamb options, casing options—we have all those.”

To get your foot in the door, consider this rundown of the latest and greatest in the most critical customization categories.

Material

Wood is classic, metal is inexpensive and fiberglass is all the rage. Local experts agree more and more consumers are going with the latter category because it’s low maintenance, keeps your heat in and looks just as good as a wood door.

“They’ve made so many advances in fiberglass,” Kniatt says. Depending on options, fiberglass doors can be less expensive up front than wood doors, and they cost less to keep up. Craig Wood of Waynesboro’s Window World adds that because fiberglass doors last so long, they aren’t likely to end up in a landfill anytime soon.

The other two mainstream options have their place, though—some homeowners will deal with the high-maintenance costs of wood for its appearance, and metal offers great insulation at its price point.

Thickness

This one’s easy. Almost every residential door is one and a quarter inch, Kniatt says. Some commercial doors, like those fancy jobs you find at restaurants, are two and a quarter. Occasionally a residential customer will see a thick door and take to its heft, but it’s rare.

Insulation

Insulation (measured as an R- or U-value) equals energy savings, and fiberglass is best for scratching your green itch, according to Wood. “Americans want energy efficiency,” he says. “Fiberglass with a foam seal is more energy efficient than any other option.”

Surface

Kniatt admits that for some traditional homes, nothing other than wood will do. It has that natural grain and gives you opportunities for mill work that’ll make it look just as detailed as your original Victorian molding.

But fiberglass has come a long way in this category as well. Wood grain can be simulated, and applied “skins” can make your door look like a master craftsman hewed it out of solid hardwood.

“If you’re going to paint it, you can’t tell the difference,” Kniatt says. “If you are going to stain it, there are different levels of grain. You don’t see many custom skins, but the stock selection is good.”

Finishes

Most people stain the exterior surface of their door and paint the inside, Kniatt says. So the exterior surface finish is critical.

“I tell homeowners to pick their glass and then show them the grain,” he says. “You get in and work your way through your preferences.”

Peephole v. Glass

Glass is in. Peepholes are out.

“Even with the classic six-panel doors, they’ll usually put glass at the top or add sidelights,” Kniatt says. “They still do peepholes in apartments, and you can always get a peephole installed later.”

Color

The options are pretty much limitless when it comes to the color of your door, according to Wood. Regardless of your door material, you can pick up just about any paint from your retailer and slap it on there. Quit being such a buzzkill, Jagger.

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