How to Replace an Exterior Door?
Exterior Doors: Your House Welcome Statement
Of all of the parts of a home, a front entry door is the biggest statement to the world outside. It is the welcome message statement. It creates the first impression for visitors, family, and neighbors.
What is an Exterior Door?
Exterior doors differ from interior doors in both construction and function. In addition to being built to be energy efficient, also resists sound transverse and performs security. For example, exterior doors should deter break-ins and dents. To do this, the framing, core, and material have to be strong.
In addition, paint, hardware, and elements like windows are designed for style and exterior fashion trends. Some of these design innovations involve functional materials that reduce energy transfer, waterproofing, and light reflection.
Types of Exterior Doors
Exterior doors come in many styles, sizes, and options. For example, some have built-in sidelights, which are windows in a wall, connected to the door frame. Also, built-in door windows, added door knobs, designs, and patterns. In addition, exterior doors can be double opening, like a french door, extra-large, extra small, or any number of details.
One of the differentiators is the material that the door skin is made out of. So much so, that it determines the name of the door. These include:
In addition to material type, like a fiberglass door, function types like a storm door, interior door, and pre-hung door are terms you should be aware of.
Fiberglass, vinyl, and steel exterior doors mostly use a construction method of encasing a foam or lightweight solid material door, using the subject material. For example, a standard consumer-grade steel door used steel around a different core material like solid foam, cork or other material. This provides the benefits of steel (fireproof, solid feel) with the lightweight function of the core material. Finding completely solid steel doors is difficult and expensive.
The same method works for the others.
And for wood doors, a wood “skin” may surround a wood frame or even a solid wood door.
Why Replace an Exterior Door
Entry doors manufactured over 20 years ago, likely do not have the recent innovations needed to provide high efficiency and security. In addition, their style may look outdated and even bring down the value of a home. New modern exterior doors not only provide substantial protection from the weather, and energy loss, but they also have styles that can update the entire look and feel of a home. Because an exterior entry door is often the focal point of a home, doors with modern styles, bold colors, and upgraded addons have the power to transform and lead a renovation.
If you have an old door, deciding on a replacement door is easy.
Picking the Right Door for Your Home
With all the latest exterior doors on the market, choosing the right one can be a challenge. For starters, take a look at your neighborhood. What are the architectural styles of your neighbors? Is there an HOA? Are there city standards? Would you characterize your neighborhood as classic, modern, mid-century, or another style? Thinking through these issues will give you direction on what style of a door you should choose.
Next, is choosing the material. Solid wood doors can sometimes be the most expensive door material type because they are typically made from one large piece of wood. If you are looking for a door with value, yet similar functions, stick with vinyl doors. They are relatively affordable, yet have all the energy efficiency components like spacers, insulation, window options, and customization.
One element that can help you determine the material type is to decide on your door framing. If your rough framing is difficult to adjust, such as solid stone or ornate siding, you may want to stick with an exact same size door. Enlarging a door is easiest done with standard wood-framed and standard siding houses. Some doors come pre-hung (if you are adjusting the rough opening), or just the door itself.
Next, you’ll want to decide on hardware. Doorknobs and locks come in all shapes and sizes. Minimalistic styles, that have clean straight lines, often fit in the “modern” category. While designed steel, with artwork or curvatures in it, fit more with classic or traditional styles. Off-the-shelf builder quality hardware, which you can find in many big box stores conveys more of a track home and moderate-quality home.
Finally, if your budget allows, you may want to consider special add-ons like building in sidelights, transom windows (a decorative window above the door), kick plates, and more. Many of these are not part of the door itself but are best installed at the time of door installation.
How to Replace an Exterior Door DIY
Many homeowners ask: "Can you just replace an exterior door? "Homeowners that want to replace an exterior door themselves are in for a journey. It is best if they have had experience with this. Do you have previous carpentry or framing experience? Do you know the parts of the door and window openings? Perhaps you are replacing a patio door. Or you have an old house. Or even, you have to work around vinyl siding. Door replacement with these concerns can be done, it just takes some research. Homeowners doing their own entry door replacement, especially with a prehung exterior door, can find it possible.
On the day of, you’ll need to carefully remove the trim around both the inside and outside of the door. Then unhinging the existing door. Next, chipping away or removing all aspects like the sills, sweeps, jamb covers, mullion, strike plate, head rail, moldings, and more. This will expose the rough framing inside the wall.
Next is prepping the rough opening for the new door. Does some material need to be removed to provide fit? Or, does the opening need to be framed out more to accommodate a smaller door? Knowing these answers will help direct the process.
You may need to chip new indents for hinges. You may need to install weather stripping, flashing, and reflective tape. There are many surprises and factors to consider when installing.
Finally, screwing in the new door, and installing and testing the door lock and strike plate system, all are essential final steps. The most important of all is testing the opening and closing of the door.
Be aware of terms and materials like a door jamb, shim, slab door, caulk, hinge, exterior trim, wood rot, door opening, door slab, specialty wood screws, and hinge jamb. If you have a more complicated door like a double door, or sliding glass door, finding the right exterior door replacement will be more of a challenge. But door installation companies have access to all of this. They can help you find the right door knob, door trim, and other components.
Using a Contractor for Replacing an Exterior Door
With all of these steps and hassle, it is no wonder that hiring a contractor to do the installation is often far better. They do this work all day, every day. Door installers have likely come across nearly every situation imaginable and can make any door fit, perfectly. On top of that, you benefit from warranted work that adds peace of mind to you, and value to your home.
Yet, you might be wondering how much to replace an exterior door? Especially if you pay a contractor to do it. While new exterior door prices fall in the range of $400-$2,000, you should factor installation to double the price of the door. If you are budget-focused, you can still save money by sticking with standard quality doors, and eliminating expensive add-ons like sidelights and high-cost hardware. Ask your installer to price match, or ask if they offer seasonal specials. There are many strategies to use to save when it comes to door installation costs.
How to Pick the Right Contractor
How do you pick the right one? For starters, focus on door and window installers. They are similar tasks, and you’ll know that your contractor does this work regularly. The process of measuring, removal, and rough opening prep, all the way through testing, is a developed skill and is best done by specialists who work on doors and windows regularly.
Second, look for companies that have their own staff, instead of hiring subcontractor installers. You want the assurance that you can go to one place if there is something wrong.
In addition to these, we recommend using companies who have been doing this world for 20+ years, have good real reviews, and guarantee their work.
Benefits of Using a Contractor
Delco Windows and Doors in Toronto Canada mentions that many of their door installs come from customers who considered installing on their own, but found that it was far better to use a contractor like them to do the work.
By using a licensed and experienced door installer, you’ll have a door that does not creak, shuts quietly and smoothly, and backs up its workmanship. In addition, most door installers can purchase and deliver the product for you. Often they have their own designer styles that can be custom ordered in-house. All of this will give you the trust and satisfaction of knowing that you have the right door, with the right work.
Using a big box store like Home Depot, could create problems down the road, as the work is often outsourced to small installation companies that are here today and may be out of town later.
Enjoying Your New Door
Once your new exterior door is replaced, you can sit back and enjoy lower energy bills, a quieter interior, and perhaps even more natural light. New entry doors pay a return by also adding to the value of your home. Some reports estimate that over 96% of your door cost can be recouped through added resale value (1). It’s like benefitting from a new door and in the long run, getting the money back to pay for it.
About the Author
Delco Windows and Doors has been serving Toronto Canada since 1989, with door and window replacement and installation. Helping make homes throughout the GTA more energy efficient with an upgraded style.