The Complete Buyers Guide to Exterior Doors

September 9, 2015
exterior doors buyers guide

Many people assume that choosing an exterior door is really quite simple. Well, it is and it isn’t. You may be getting new doors to add value to your home, to improve energy efficiency or to install a front door better suited to the architecture of your home.

Whatever the reason, we all want the browsing and buying process to be as painless as possible, which is where Fine Doors come to the rescue.

We’ve created a complete guide to exterior doors which contains everything you need to know to make the correct decision and ultimately the right purchase. Our exterior door guide includes:

  • A choice of exterior door materials (and each of their benefits).
  • How valuable each exterior door can prove to be
  • Energy saving doors with detailed information
  • Which doors are best for which climate
  • Quick and easy installation tips
  • Advice for the security conscious
  • A range of maintenance questions answered as asked on DIY forums

Now you have a better idea of what to expect from our guide, it’s time for you to choose your weapon…


Choosing The Right Exterior Doors

We all have our own reasons for changing our exterior doors. Perhaps they’re in desperate need of repairing or repainting, to the point where they’re desperate to be replaced. Perhaps the style of the external doors no longer fit in with the style of your home.

In order to make the purchase process even easier, we’ve decided to point out the main elements to consider when choosing a door, whether you’re looking to replace your current outdated entrance with a stylish wooden front door or you’re in the process of choosing some UPVC doors for your new conservatory, it’s advised to consider the following questions:

Does it matter which door frame you use?

Ideally, you want to use a door frame which matches the manufacturer of the door, this way you’re guaranteed to have no problems, (especially if you’re opting to fit the door yourself).

Also, softwood frames are much easier to paint than other types, will last you a while and are cost effective.

Does it matter which door material I choose?

The simple answer is yes.

The weather plays a bit part in the kind of door you should choose. With the British climate constantly unable to make up it’s mind, it’s essential that you choose (particularly) a front door which will be suitable for the weather conditions.

For example, if you’re thinking about buying a wooden front door, be certain that you’re in a position to paint and stain the door to avoid any unwanted rot.

Another reason you may want to choose a specific material is down to the climate in your area. If you live in a place with constantly low temperatures, you may want to think about investing in a U Value energy efficient door. The lower the U Value, the more energy efficient the door is.

Find out more about U Value doors.

Which external doors are most secure?

To be honest, it’s more a question of which doors are not most secure. If your external doors are hollow or feel slightly loose, even having locked them, you should get these doors replaced.

Unless your doors are made from fiberglass, solid wood or steel, you may as well have a hole in the wall (perhaps a slight exaggeration).

If you’re particularly worried about somebody breaking in to your home, consider replacing your door with one that swings inwards, this will help to detract any type of forced entry.

What do I need to know before changing my doors?

The only important thing you need to check are the building regulations for your area. Find out more about building regulations here.

Exterior Wooden Doors

exterior wooden doors

The advantages of wood doors

- Choose from a range of wood materials

- Exterior damages are easy to repair

- Simple to maintain and decorate

- Will last over 100 years if treated correctly

- The natural textures display a beautiful grain

- They can easily be adapted in size

Are wood doors energy efficient?

Timber wood doors are the closest to being energy efficient, but most wood doors aren't available as "green".

Are wood doors easy to install?

With the correct guidance, they can be simple to install yourself. Watch our video below for more details:

Are wood doors suitable for cold weather?

Wooden doors are ideal for pretty much any climate, it all really depends on the quality of the door and the way it fitted and filled.

If you're experiencing cold drafts coming inside, try using draft exlcuders at the bottom of doors or thermal door curtains (if your door has windows installed).

Do wood doors require maintenance?

​If properly looked after from the start, wood doors don't require much (if any) maintenance.

First things first, you want to paint your wooden doors. Why? This will help to weather protect your doors and prevent any warping or rotting.

This video by B&Q covers everything you need to know:

Exterior Composite Doors

composite doors benefits

The advantages of composite doors

- Sturdy designed for maximum security

- No paintwork is needed for the GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) models.

- High resistance to weathering

- Contains a foam core for extra insluation

- Easy to remove and add glass inserts

- Range of colours and designs to choose

Are composite doors energy efficient?

A range of energy efficient composite doors are available on the market. The U value will usually determine the price.

Are wood doors easy to install?

With the correct guidance, they can be simple to install yourself. Watch this video by EurocellPVCU below for more details:

Are wood doors suitable for cold weather?

This is one of the main advantages of composite doors. 

As mentioned, the GRP models are known to contain a thick layer of thermal foam, to help minimise the need for internal heating.

Do composite doors require maintenance?

All doors require some kind of care, and composite doors are no different.

The advantage being that the cleaning is easy, and only needs doing about once every few months.

This composite door maintenance guide will answer all the question you have.

Exterior UPVC Doors

composite doors benefits

The advantages of UPVC doors

- Stronger than traditional wooden doors

- Weatherproof and damp proof

- Require very little maintenance

- High levels of insulation

- Reduces sound pollution drastically

- Well suited for the security conscious

Are UPVC doors energy efficient?

The production of UPVC doors isn't particularly environmentally friendly, but in terms of saving energy around the home, they're very effective.

Are UPVC doors easy to install?

With the correct guidance, they can be simple to install yourself. Watch this video below for more details on fitting a UPVC door and frame:

Are UPVC doors suitable for cold weather?

UPVC doors are great in terms of keeping the heat in, especially for those frosty winter months.

If you're experiencing cold drafts coming inside, try using draft exlcuders at the bottom of doors or thermal door curtains (if your door has windows installed).

Do UPVC doors require maintenance?

Very little maintenance is required on UPVC doors. Simple tasks that should carry out quarterly include:

- Oiling the lock mechanisms to eliminate stiff locks.
- Occasionally wipe them down to maintain the appearance.

How to maintain your exterior doors the right way.

Maintaining your doors is crucial to the longevity and lasting quality of them. No matter what type of external door you have, each requires some kind of maintenance, some more than others.

​Therefore, we picked out some of the most asked questions from around the web and answered them all for you, in as much detail as we can.

Do I need to use a particular paint when decorating my door?

We'd recommend choosing either an acrylic latext paint or an oil based paint.

Arylic paints are the perfect choice for those looking to paint over a door that's already installed, they will cover pretty much any paint that's already been applied. Oil based paints should be used when painting a brand new door for the first time, this sort of paint wdries quickly and maintains its appearance for years.

We'd also recommend watching this video for the best way to paint your exterior door:​

How do I waterproof my exterior door?

It's important to both waterproof and seal your exterior doors to help them last longer and to save yourself some money and energy at home. Rather than listing the steps here, check out this extremely great eHow article which lists an easy 8 step guide to waterproofing your doors.

How do I remove varnish from my door?

Stripping the varnish from your doors is actually quite easy, well summarised in this video my Polycell...

What's the best way to clean my exterior door?

We'd recommend using Murphy Oil Soap ​to clean your doors, it will clean any wooden doors without leaving any stains or streaks whilst also protecting it further.

If you're in a rush to clean your door, you can also combine hot water, a mild soap and a soft sponge which will also do the job for the time being. Start by cleaning around the door frame first and then start from the top and work your way down to the bottom​

One you've cleaned your door, you'll want to use a clean towel to wipe down your door and dry it effectively. 

How do I fix and prevent a rotting door?

To prevent your door from rotting, make sure the bottom of the door is well sealed, as rainwater will make its way through this area of the door and sit to create the rotting process.

In terms of fixing a door that is already vulnerable to rot, this video by easydiymovies offers loads of great tips in 5 minutes...​

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