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low maintenance and efficient entry door options?

BrunoF | Posted in General Questions on

I am looking for recommendations on manufacturers and construction types for our front entry door which will be 3-0 x 6-8 with side lights.

Asthetically, we were going to use a wood door but I have learned that in order to get a solid wood door build properly will cost over $10k and even then it will probably move (as wood does) and require refinishing / fussing with much more than we want.  Additionally, I don’t think that a solid wood door will be very energy efficient.  I have also looked at fiberglass doors from Thermatru and they all seem to have terrible reviews.

What / Who else should I be considering for a front door that will be both efficient and low maintenance?


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  1. nynick | | #1

    I'll be doing the exact same thing here in about 6 months. I was definitely going to use an artificial material that looks like wood for durability and energy efficiency. I'll be interested to hear what other GBA'er have to say about brands. I thought Thermatru was a good one?

  2. jonny_h | | #2

    I wonder if anyone's ever built a wood door coated with a layer of fiberglass? Wooden boat people use this technique and it seems to hold up to the weather. Look up cedar strip canoes / kayaks for examples, basically the process seems to be construct a wood thing, then cover it with a layer of fiberglass cloth & epoxy resin. With a sufficiently careful finishing job, the fiberglass layer is nearly transparent, giving the finished product the appearance of the wood, but with the water resistance, stability, and increased strength of the fiberglass. Not necessarily the most environmentally friendly compared to just wood (the epoxy resin components are kinda nasty before curing), but should be low maintenance.

    In terms of energy efficiency, the companies that do high-performance wood doors seem to usually use a foam core of some sort for insulation. I'd argue that the quality of the door hardware / air seal is more important than the R-value of the door slab itself, though.

  3. dennis_vab | | #3

    What’s wrong with therma Tru doors? I have one installed right now in my home under construction. I haven’t used it much but I am happy with it so far. Smooth star, 3068 with sidelites as well, larger jambs to accommodate the exterior insulation. I also optioned it with the multi point lock.

    I ordered a smooth star as we will paint it black. But they have some more pricier options in fiberglass that mimick wood.

  4. matthew25 | | #4

    I have a wood-look ThermaTru Fiber-Classic front door and it works fine. I didn't purchase it for thermal performance though, not in this leaky house. If you want a super high R-value door you should look at ProVia Embarq fiberglass line. They make up to R-10 doors (no lite though).

  5. jackofalltrades777 | | #5

    Home Depot sells Masonite fiberglass doors with a U-Value or 0.14 or R-Value of R-7. They are around $280 and a solid door (no glass). If you get into "custom" doors, the costs will get into the $3k-$10k range. ROI for such a door would take decades at $10K+.

  6. Chris_in_NC | | #6

    Was the $10k door a ProVia by any chance....? I got a quote some years back, for a single 36W with no sidelites or transom, and it was something like $8k.

    I have a ThermaTru Smoothstar fiberglass in my workshop, double 36 doors with an astrogal and aluminum sill, and it seems like a decent product for a non-premium price.

  7. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #7

    If energy efficiency isn't a huge concern, Simpson makes very good exterior wood doors for under $2K. If you're paying $10K, you're asking for something special--rare woods, complicated design, solid wood vs. veneer.

    I use Thermatru doors often and they are perfectly fine. Also under $2K for most regular options, even when you add a 3-point lock which helps a lot with long-term airtightness.

    1. BrunoF | | #11

      It was a Simpson door that came in around $10k but I don’t think I asked for anything exotic. 3/0 door with 1/4 side lights

      1. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #12

        Does the door have glass? Two sidelights? Is the wood their standard fir or something else? Three-point locks?

  8. buildzilla | | #8

    that's a great question. european style window manufacturers have offerings that are more like windows than doors with excellent performance and multi-point locking mechanisms, but i also want a "smart-lock", so it's not obvious what my options are for that combination. any one dabbled in that space?

  9. Eric_U | | #9

    I recnetly spent two months looking for doors. Therma-tru was my first stop since they are well insulated, but the door I wanted (3-0 | 8-0 double doors) were going to be $26,000. I eventually realized that with a 3/4 lite door, insulation is kind of pointless anyway. Within all of my searches prices ended up ranging from $4000-32,000. My advice is to just Google what you want and email as many people as possible. Estate out of Pennsylvania and Douglas Fir Doors are the two I ended up picking between and ultimately I'm going to go with the latter. ~$5000 for a fir 2 1/4" 3-0 | 8-0 door with a MPLS is amazing and worth the need to reseal every so often. And that will still be ~R-2, which really isn't that different from a $26,000 door that is only R-5.

    Important Note!: We have a 10ft overhang to protect the door. If it was more exposed I would probably get a standard 6|8 door made out of fiberglass

  10. user-5946022 | | #10

    I have two standard Therma True smooth fiberglass, insulated, with flat window trim to make it look modern, with threshold and hardware color I selected.

    When I started looking for a door, I could not find the sidelight / transom combo I wanted for the front on the Therma True site, but my builder advised it did not matter - all I needed to do was select the door itself. The local millwork shop then makes the frame and prehangs the door in that frame, so they were able to add a sidelight and put a transom across both.

    The builder special ordered the doors with all the glass low e and the rating to match all the window glass.

    I had requested low maintenance exterior so the builder also ordered the frame out of pvc.

    If I had to do it over, I would:
    1. Have the door, sidelight and transom above be separate pieces, because there is very little material between the door and sidelight. It looks great, but there is nowhere to drive long screws to secure the strike. I would prefer some solid wood framing between all these components.
    2. I would order the doors with a multi point lock system. HOWEVER the caveat with the multipoint lock is that you are VERY limited on smart door locks that work with the multipoint lock. It is getting better, but is it very limited.

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