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Passive house exterior door for reasonable price?

Has anyone come across an exterior door that provides good insulation and beefy frame that's worthy of a super insulated home but comes at a reasonable price? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Asked by Matthew Michaud
Posted Feb 4, 2013 9:46 PM ET

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19 Answers

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1.

Matthew,

I don't know about the beefy frame, but check out Hammer and Hand in Portland at
http://hammerandhand.com/passive-house-doors
for their passive house door.

Manfred

Answered by Manfred Winter
Posted Feb 4, 2013 10:33 PM ET

2.

Matthew,
In case you didn't read it, here's a link to a recent blog by Alex Wilson on the topic: Seeking an Affordable Energy-Efficient Exterior Door.

Jesse Thompson in Maine is partial to Drewexim doors. I wrote about Drewexim doors here: New Green Building Products.

Answered by Martin Holladay
Posted Feb 5, 2013 6:51 AM ET

3.

Matthew,

What's your definition of a reasonable price?

People have built Passive Houses with Therma-Tru doors upgraded with multi-point locks: http://bilyeugreen.com/Projects.html
They've also built them with hand crafted insulated elegant wood doors which would likely be quite a bit more expensive (see H&H above).
As always in construction, reasonable varies tremendously depending on the person paying for the product.

Answered by Jesse Thompson
Posted Feb 5, 2013 9:46 AM ET

4.

Jesse, got any additional information on using Therma-Tru doors with multi-point locks? Any particular model or type that performs well? I looked over one of the blogs from the link you provided but the info I found was scant.

From what I've seen of multi-point locking stateside, additional bolts or hooks are thrown, but they do not necessarily snug the door against the seal any tighter.

I'm searching doors myself right now, so any additional info would be really helpful. Many thanks.

Answered by Andrew Thompson Zone 3a
Posted Feb 5, 2013 2:30 PM ET

5.

Which type of exterior door you are looking? One common type of exterior door has a steel skin with a polyurethane foam insulation core with a magnetic strip as weatherstripping. If installed correctly and not bent, this type of door needs no further weatherstripping.

Answered by Jenny Belman
Posted Feb 8, 2013 11:15 PM ET

6.

Matthew, can you provide a more specific link? That one is rather generic. You would have to go through the whole website.

Answered by Aaron Gatzke
Posted Feb 8, 2013 11:44 PM ET

7.

Sorry, I meant to address that last comment to Jesse.

Answered by Aaron Gatzke
Posted Feb 8, 2013 11:45 PM ET

8.

Hi Matthew: Thorsten Chlupp, a builder in Alaska with the Cold Climate Research Center, has noted he fabricates his own high performance doors:
Doors and Thermal shutters are built from us in house, there isn’t anything like it on the market. ...Once the exterior doors are ready for production we will offer them commercially at one point – from R-20 to R-60, 7 lock points, airtight and thermal bridge free.…since I am just so feed up with the fact that you cannot buy a darn door anywhere in North America which actually works and functions in cold climates.
Thorsten's slide show at the 2010 Passive House conference describes his airtight, R-40 insulated core, fiberglass framed door on slide 63; Thorsten's contact info appears on slide 2: http://passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/2010_Passive_House_Conference_Presen...

Answered by Jan Juran
Posted Feb 9, 2013 12:43 AM ET
Edited Feb 10, 2013 5:16 PM ET.

9.

Matthew, we have been very satisfied with the Passivhaus Certified Munster Joinery Doors sold here as Klearwall. We pay around $1500 for a full glass UPVC (futureproof) and about $2200 for a full glass alum exterior, wood interior (Ecoclad). For the price and quality, the Ecoclad is a real winner!

Answered by Adam Cohen
Posted Feb 9, 2013 10:20 AM ET

10.

I contacted the builder that Jesse mentioned above and he was very helpful. I don't think he would mind if I share his insights, so here's the gist.

He uses the foam filled fiberglass doors, with a multi-point lock upgrade with shoot bolts and tongues--the tongues are tapered and as they engage they actually pull the door against the seal. He also does not like the performance of the standard door bottom, so he recommended using a compression sill (the kind usually used for outswing uses with the same kerf inserted seals as the jambs). This can be used as an inswing if the context is fairly protected from water.

Another interesting thing I found on the link/blog itself was an energy efficient doggie-door. Expensive, but seem to perform really well. When these guys blower-door tested said project they registered 0.26ach, and I believe that was with the doggie door installed on another door. Pretty impressive sealing all around.

Thankfully many green builders are friendly and generous with their insights. Hope this helps.

Answered by Andrew Thompson Zone 3a
Posted Feb 11, 2013 2:46 PM ET

11.

Andrew,

Have you found a source for those compression sills?

We are under construction of a near Passive House and are using a combination of Intus triple pane glass doors for the entry to the screen room and out to the patio; and fiberglass doors for the front and mud room doors. We want zero thresholds for accessibility.

We've got the energy efficient doggy door on order for our mud room. (http://www.energyefficientdogdoors.com/Medium-Dog-Door-for-Door). I hope it's worth the price. The standard doggy door we have in our current home let's a lot of cold air in even though it has two flaps.

Answered by Elizabeth Kormos
Posted Feb 14, 2013 2:38 PM ET

12.

Elizabeth,

I've made them myself in the past. This way I could pick the material and size it perfectly to my needs. The builder I mentioned above also told me that he has made them as well; he has a really simplified 2-part design that could be easily built onsite. Basically, one lower, wider piece is the threshold, and an upper, narrower piece acts as the stop. The upper also has a notch on one edge. When assembled ( screwed, glued, etc), the notch becomes a kerf that holds the weatherstripping.

I recall seeing on Therma-tru's site that they also offer this type of sill as an option, though you'd want to clarify that you want the sill to be used in an in-swing context (if that's your intention).

As I mentioned, I've seen them sold with out-swing doors, and I think I may have even seem them sold in wood and/or aluminum at the box stores. They also sell the weatherstripping in lengths suitable for doors. Hope that helps.

Answered by Andrew Thompson Zone 3a
Posted Feb 22, 2013 2:59 PM ET

13.

It's been a couple of years since the original poster submitted this question. Has anyone heard of any exciting new doors on the market that are efficient in terms of R value and sealing weathertight properties? My thought of "reasonably priced" is under $1500-1800 for a standard entry door.

Answered by Drew Baden
Posted Jan 14, 2017 8:58 AM ET

14.

Air infiltration at exterior doors can best be greatly reduced using the compression weatherstripping sill described above (typically used on out-swing doors and available from most pre-hangers). This approach eliminates the inferior "door sweep" for a tight fit of the door at all four edges to compression weatherstripping. The best R-value in affordable production doors themselves is still a fiberglass door with foam interior and the smallest window area (or no glass.) Therma-Tru literature claims up to R 15 for some of their doors without glazing. I am not aware of any standard production doors built with triple glazing; probably best to add a small fixed glass sidelight with triple glazing if some visibility to the street is needed. The multi-point latching systems are commonly available from higher end pre-hang shops with great products available from Trilennium (www.wfmfg.com) among others. The importance of accurate installation and very snug closure can't be overstated. Our current project incorporates a mudroom with a second weatherstripped door to further reduce heat loss. Lastly, Fine Home Building (December, 2015) has an excellent article on constructing and hanging a custom 3 1/2" thick cherry arched top entry door. Not readily available but stunning! http://www.finehomebuilding.com/2015/11/11/build-a-high-performance-exte...

Answered by ALAN Hart-McArthur
Posted Jan 17, 2017 12:19 AM ET

15.

Intus makes a standard production door with triple glazing. (I have one.) Cost-wise it is comparable to Therma Tru (or at least it was when I was shopping in 2013). In terms of quality, there is no comparison between Intus and Therma Tru. Still, either door is likely to be a bit more than the $1,800.

Answered by Steve Knapp CZ 3A Georgia
Posted Jan 17, 2017 10:59 AM ET

16.

It's a funny situation that the high-performance doors are really triple-pane windows, which means they are much more expensive than they need to be, and might not be the look you want anyway. It would be easy to make a high performance door just by using a foam core and going up a little in thickness, but there are very few such options, and most are very expensive. My choice was to use Jeld-Wen doors because their foam cores are Neo-por (graphite infused EPS) whereas most are HFC-blown polyurethane and I prefer avoid the global warming impact of the HFC blowing agent. If you go for a simple style and you don't need a high-grade fake wood grain finish, you can get a neo-por insulated Jeld-Wen set up with a multipoint latching system for probably less than $1000. I don't think you'll get any better performance than that until you go to something that costs more than $3000.

Answered by Charlie Sullivan
Posted Jan 17, 2017 1:20 PM ET

17.

Hello Charlie.

Can you tell me who you talked to at Jeld-Wen? Can you post spec details? I have the same need, but when I talk to distributors in my area they have not idea what I'm talking about.

Answered by Gerald Pehl
Posted Feb 10, 2017 11:07 PM ET

18.

Gerald, I don't think I ever had a direct contact at Jeld-Wen. I figured out the insulation they use from the literature I found online. The specific doors I chose were based on aesthetics--the energy considerations were only to choose a triple-point lock (on one door), to minimize the glass area, and to use low-e glass. In New England, the distributor Brosco assembles pre-hung units to order, and their catalog is the most helpful resource for figuring out what combination of options you want. It includes more detailed specs on the doors and options than the Jeld-Wen site, and includes list prices, as well as confirming that they use neopor. You should be able to get a good discount relative to what they list--we bought the doors through a local building supply/lumber company and a local door/window dealer, who ordered from Brosco, and both gave us good discounts, although they might officially only give those discounts to professionals. Your local dealers will presumably order from a different regional wholesaler, but the range of options and approximate prices might be similar so that Brosco catalog should still be helpful. The way it's supposed to work is that the local dealer guides you through the options such that you don't need to understand all the options in the Brosco catalog, but it sounds like you are running into the limitations of that process and want more information, so here's where you can get it:

http://brosco.com/products/price-catalog/default.aspx

The Jeld Wen doors are listed in 4 pdf files in three categories. And there's a separate pdf of "exterior options" where you can see, for example the cost adder for triple-point locks.

At one point I did talk to the regional sales rep for Brosco and he was also very helpful and knowledgeable.

The U-values are available from Jeld-Wen: http://www.jeld-wen.com/en-us/professional/technical-documents/nfrc-ther...

One other tip: if you decide you want a wood-look finish on a fiberglass door, the cost to have it done by Brosco sounds high. Based on that, we bought the finish kit and planned to do it ourselves or have our painter do it. We ended up paying the painter to do it, but despite his confidence going into it, his knowledge of how to do that somewhat specialized job well was weak, and the result was a lot of hassle in trying to get it done well, a cost just barely less than having it done by Brosco, and, I suspect, a worse result aesthetically.

Answered by Charlie Sullivan
Posted Feb 11, 2017 9:40 AM ET

19.

Sorry for the long delay Charlie, but thank you very much for the great response.

Answered by Gerald Pehl
Posted Feb 19, 2017 9:17 PM ET

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