Recommendations for Budget-Friendly High-Performance Exterior Doors
I’m working on a house where I need to put in an exterior door and I’d like to put in something with good energy performance. Other than that it’s a side door that you can’t see from the street so it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, although I’d like it to feel decent, not like something that’s going to fall apart in your hands. Just a solid door with no window.
I looked at the Energy Star ratings as a place to start. For a solid door they require a U-Value of 0.17, which is R6. Since exterior doors are standardized at 1-3/4″ I don’t think anything will be over about R-8. So it seems like the sealing is what I should really focus on. The Energy Star standard for air leakage is 0.5/CFM per square foot. A standard height 36″ door is 20 square feet so that’s 10 CFM. Maybe I’m being picky, but that strikes me as a perceptible airflow. I haven’t been able to see what pressure they test at.
I can get a no-frills Energy Star door at a big box store starting around $250. Where it gets tough is if I want something better than that. Air leakage ratings doesn’t seem like something door manufacturers are particularly proud of.
One thought is to get a no-frills door and then upgrade the weather sealing. But even there I don’t see quantitative figures with weather sealing. Every manufacturer just says theirs is the best.
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