Steel vs. Fiberglass Doors
I currently have a few wooden doors on my new old house that are in terrible shape. One has some cracked glass, and all of them are warped and swell when it’s really humid (I live in the NE, on the water).
So I’d like to replace them. My question is, which would you recommend for replacement? I’ve seen steel and fiberglass doors in Home Depot and Lowes, often under $300. Are these worth it? And which would you recommend – a steel door, which I would think wouldn’t be too energy efficient, or a fiberglass door?
Any help is appreciated.
Probably not. I was responding to the post about an under $300. fiberglass door. I have just replaced too many of the low end hardware store doors to have a good opinion of them. Feather River is a decent mid grade door.
I’m just very partial to Precision Doors. They are the best out there IMO.
skydawggy: are you still around? What makes Precision the best? We’re building new in the humid southeast and want to use fiberglass doors because there’s not the problems with movement in response to either humidity or heat. But, when last I priced Precision they were just out of sight. We need 8 entry doors. They’re all sheltered at least 5 feet back under porch roofs.
If you had to pick a second and maybe third manufacturer of fiberglass doors (less expensive), who would it be?
There are a lot of misleading facts on what type of door the DIY stores sell. In most cases the cheaper Utility type doors are bottom of the line, pop can thin skinned doors. Their upper end or mid-ranged doors are basically not a bad worthless door. In most cases they are made by respectful manufacturers stamped with the stores brand name. I’m not up to date with HD’s door supplier. I’m not a fan of their installation program or the people that run it. So I can’t offer a fair opinion in their favor.
Lowes on the other hand puts food on my table. The installation program here is run well and we get paid well for what we do. Since I deal with Lowes daily I can offer a fair opinion on their products. Their off the shelf steel and nominal sized doors carry the Reliabilt name on them. The doors are made to Lowes standards by Jeldwen and then stamped with the Reliabilt sticker and information tag. The Reliabilt name is just a fictitious name Lowes uses to tag their own line of doors. Jeldwen also makes the upper end fiberglass doors you see with the higher price tags. They also carry the Therma-Tru brand which is usually provided by a local supplier used in each region. These are two manufacturers that sell a lot of doors and receive great respect around the nation.
The glass used in the doors is really the same across the industry. The Lite-Kits or window frames used with the glass can differ from one to the other. Each manufacturer uses different suppliers for their glass products. It just depends on where they buy it from. Over the past 25 years these kits have made some huge changes in what they’re made with. The old style kits had serious issues with heat and direct sunlight. The major issues were related to heat build up between the entry door and the storm door. If both doors were closed and latched without any venting capabilities, the kit would literally melt from the heat. We would test the heat range between the doors back in the late 70’s and early 80’s to see how bad it would get. During the Summer months we would test a house with a southern exposure and dark colored paint. The temperature would reach anywhere from 125 to 150 degrees. This kind of heat would melt the kit and also delaminate the door. Delamination is the breakdown of the bonding of the door skin and the insulation. Ounce this occurs the door is junk and needs replacement.
Todays foamed in place doors and more durable kit material have eliminated a lot of these issues. The heat build up between doors is still a big issue and can cause all kinds of problems. It’s very important to keep your storm screen open at least three inches at the top in order to vent the heat build up. There are some door manufacturers out there that will void your warranty if you install a storm door on their entry system. Make sure you check this out when purchasing a new door.
In most cases you can get a good door for a great value if it’s a door you can buy off the shelf. This value is based off the abundance of doors they buy from their manufacturer. This price is only for certain models they carry in the stores. If you want anything different than what’s on the floor, get out the checkbook. You’ll pay more for anything special ordered.
The last and most important issue is as skydawggy pointed out earlier, installation. Expensive doors are junk if not installed properly. Your rolling the dice when you go through the DIY stores in most areas.
Money pit go with the fiberglass door over the steel door. The steel door can rust away where the fiberglass door won’t. It’s also much more durable and if stained properly looks exactly like wood. Good Luck.