Dear Jim: My wood front door is warped, leaky and just plain ugly. I want to replace it with an efficient one with decorative glass, but I am worried it will warp too. Are there any durable, long-lasting wood doors made? – Ann R.
Dear Ann: There are many wood entry doors made that can last a lifetime. The key is starting out with a high-quality wood door and then maintaining it properly throughout its life. The best wood entry doors don’t require much care, but regular inspections to repair any nicks or scratches are wise.
Although wood doors do not have the high insulation level of steel or fiberglass doors with foam cores, their beauty and elegance cannot be matched. With so much decorative glass in many front doors today, the insulation value of the door material is not as important for efficiency.
All wood doors, even high-quality ones sealed at the factory, grow and shrink throughout the year as the temperature and humidity change. They are designed with features such as floating panels so that the manufacturers can offer warranties (some for a lifetime) against warping, splitting or peeling.
Be prepared to pay more for a high-quality wood door than for most insulated steel doors. The most attractive and efficient ones are often made by craftsmen with handcrafted mortise and tenon joints. Variations in grain and how it accepts stain makes each wood door unique.
For most homes, the airtightness of a new wood door improves efficiency and comfort (less outdoor noise, drafts, dust, etc.). If you want the greatest energy savings, several wood door manufacturers offer styles with foam insulation cores.
You have many new efficient options for the decorative glass. In addition to standard rectangular and oval windows, there are other unique shapes available. Beveled, etched and leaded are most commonly used, but other attractive styles are wrought iron, granite-look and glue chip.
Super-efficient triple-pane glass is a good choice for all climates. The decorative pane of glass is usually sandwiched in between two other clear panes. This type of glass is also difficult to break through. For even more security, select a door with optional multipoint latches along its length.
For new construction or remodeling, wood doors with matching ornate transoms and sidelights are becoming very popular. The additional glass in these allows more natural light indoors and reduces the need to switch on lamps.
For a truly unique-looking door, you can have personalized patterns hand-craved into the wood. Wood doors with decorative, deeply embossed copper, pewter or brass skins look distinctive and are low-maintenance.
Write for (instantly download – www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 659 – buyer’s guide of 14 high-quality wood entry door manufacturers listing construction types, styles, glass options, features and finishing instructions. Please include $3 and a business-size SASE, and send to James Dulley, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.