Greg Stopher, Stopher Construction  |  What is the first thing you see before entering a friend’s home? Well it is probably their front door. Have you seen your front door? Is it inviting? There are many types of doors on the market and a variety of hardware to make entry doors more attractive. Attractive entry doors come in all shapes and sizes and are available in a variety of materials. I have seen small, or what seemed small entry doors that fit the home just perfectly, to large mostly glass entry doors, to large solid wood doors that took more than two carpenters to hang that would make your jaw drop. Although most of us have a budget and front entry door should be efficient, attractive, and affordable. We can’t spent tens of thousands of dollars on a front entry door or all the doors within a home but we can make them look like a million dollars. 

Entry Doors

Typically the three types of materials a front entry door can be constructed of include steel, fiberglass, and solid wood. While solid wood is very attractive and some homes just call for a nice wood entry door they can also be the most expensive. Wood front doors are typically not energy rated as well but the look can be worth losing a couple of points on your energy rating. I have installed solid African mahogany wood doors 4’0 wide with an arched top. Nice door but I would not want to see how much it set the owner back with its ball bearing stainless steel hinges. Shut your fingers in that door and you would know it. Wood doors can be custom made to any opening or configuration an architect can dream up. Anyway, wood doors have their place in entry doors but they can be expensive and may lack the efficiency most households need.

Steel entry doors come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. Steel entry doors are very affordable and efficient as well. They can be painted or stained and are very durable. Steel doors are also very stable when they are placed under different stress and weather conditions.

Fiberglass doors come also come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. They can be little more expensive than steel doors but more affordable then wood doors. Fiberglass doors can also be as efficient and sometime more efficient than steel doors. With the right finish a fiberglass door can be stained to resemble a wood door. Most fiberglass doors that are stained to look like wood can only be distinguished from wood when very close up.

Patio or Sliding Doors

Sliding doors come in all the above materials but also fall into a window category and can be constructed of vinyl material. The new vinyl frames are insulated and can be very efficient. One down side of siding doors are that they are as air tight as they will ever be upon first opening. Thereafter, each slide open will ever so slightly loosen the air tightness of the door.

French Doors

French doors like sliding doors come in all the above materials with all the advantages and disadvantages as well. One advantage of French doors is they can be sealed every time they are closed. Another advantage over a sliding patio door is that both sides can open. With both doors open, a five foot wide door French door and a six foot wide French door will open up to nearly five and six feet respectively. French doors are usually more costly than their sliding counterparts depending on the material, size, and configuration.


Installation is everything. A door, like a window, is only as good as its installation. Why spend money on an energy efficient door to only have it improperly installed? I’ve seen doors that are not correctly installed actually lose more heat than the 40-year-old door it was replacing. Furthermore, an improper installation can lead to moisture problems and damage to the interior of the home.

Whether installing a door in new construction or replacing an existing door, the installation should be the same. Start with a clean slate, no old materials remaining. Wrap the clean rough opening with an ice and water shield. Start at the bottom and work your way up the header with the wrap. Create a pan at the base of the door so that if water finds its way under the threshold of the door it will not find its way to the interior. Install the door and use spray-in foam to seal all the way around the door. Any air leakage will result in a less efficient door installation and negate any efficiency the door has. When selecting doors it’s important to find a door you like to best suit your budget and efficiency needs. Efficiency of a door can greatly increase the comfort of your home. As I stated above, it’s important to have your doors properly installed to maximize efficiency and comfort.

Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska – Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.