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Complete Door Buying Guide, How to Choose a New Door for Your Home

This is a door buying guide with full details on choosing front doors, patio doors, entry doors, garage doors and more. Check out our “window buying guide” or “siding buying guide” if you’re thinking of replacing windows or siding along with your doors.

Door types, styles and costs are explored to assist you in selecting doors for your home and budgeting for this remodeling project. Door brands are part of the discussion including many window brands like Pella and Andersen that make patio doors and entry doors that complement their window lines.

Door Types

This page links to additional pages with more detailed information on each door type, options and more.

Door Types and Costs Overview

This table shows the types of doors found in most homes and what you can expect to pay for them.  You can always find more expensive doors in any of the materials. The numbers given in our table represent the cost of more than 90% of all doors including best-selling styles.

Note: The Front Door column includes a wide range of door types starting at a single steel door without a window to double doors with windows and side or top transoms.

Door Costs by Type
Door Type & Average Cost Metal (1) Wood Composite Fiberglass Vinyl
Front Doors – $2,100 $350 – $4,000 $1,500 – $10,000 $800 – $5,000 $1,000 – $8,500 N/A
Sliding Patio Doors – $2,100 N/A $1,800 – $5,500 $1,450 – $3,800 $1,250 – $3,500 $750 – $3,400
French Patio Doors – $2,400 N/A $2,100 – $6,200 $1,600 – $4,400 $1,400 – $4,000 $900 – $3,700
Entry Doors – $350 $200 – $600 N/A $350 – $950 $250 – $800 N/A
Storm / Screen Doors – $275 $180 – $450 $450 – $1,000 $300 – $750 $325 – $600 $225 – $485
Interior Doors – $375 N/A $200 – $5,000 $225 – $1,500 N/A N/A
2-car Garage Doors – $2,600 $1,100 – $3,500 $2,200 – $12,000 $1,100 – $4,500 $1,400 – $3,800 $800 – $2,900
(1) Metals used include steel, iron and aluminum.

These are installed costs. If you DIY, you can expect to save $100 to $400 per door based on the type of door and how much prep is needed to the door frame. For example, installing a pre-hung entry door on the side of your garage is a quick, easy job compared with installing a sliding door patio assembly or a large front door with side transoms.

Garage door installation labor costs start at about $200 and can cost as much as $600 based on garage door complexities and whether a garage door opener installation is part of the project.

See Cost Factors below for complete details.

Door Types in Detail

Doors are sometimes overlooked when planning a remodel or new construction project. But when careful consideration goes into choosing doors for your home, well-chosen doors beautify your home, inside and out, while providing the practical performance and security you desire.

Front Doors

It has been said – and data backs it up – that your front door is the visual focus point of curb appeal. It’s what people look at – their attention is drawn to an attractive front door. As a result, a new front door can make the biggest difference of any exterior renovation.

Types and Styles

You’ve got an enormous range of options for your front door. The simplest are a single panel, no windows and no sidelights or transoms. Upgrading from there, here are options common for front door replacement.

Front / Entry Doors

Double doors: If you’ve got an expansive front exterior on your home, a double front door makes a statement. Cost is close to double too, though installation is usually just a bit more than installing a single door.

Windows: Few front doors are made with large windows, as they once were. Security is the main reason for eliminating large openings in favor of small rectangular or half-round windows. These windows are typically made of 2-pane or triple-pane glass for energy efficiency.

Sidelights: If you have the space in your entryway and appreciate extra light and the chance to view who is coming to the door, window assemblies called sidelights are a good option.

Transoms: Pella defines a transom for us: “Transoms are stationary sections of glass placed above an entry door and its sidelights.” A transom lets in more natural light and provides visual appeal. Of course, for transoms to work, the ceiling inside the entryway typically must be at least 9 feet; higher is better.

Style tips: Matching the size and style of your front door to your home is an important step. The door must fit into the design scheme without overwhelming it – a double front door on a small bungalow, for example, might be too much. On the other hand, a single-panel door with no windows or sidelights might not be elegant enough for an estate-quality home.

Doors range in style from Victorian and traditional to modern and minimalist. Take your home’s architectural style into account – and your interior design too. We recommend driving by a lot of homes in your neighborhood – homes with similar style – to get a feel for what “works” for homes like yours and what colors and features such as a sidelight or transom fit your personal tastes.

Materials: Cost-effective front doors are made of steel or vinyl, with steel being the most common option. Wood is a classic choice, but requires more maintenance. It is not a good fit when the door isn’t covered, but is subjected to rain.

Composite and fiberglass are popular choices for a wood look, often right down to the texturing, but are materials with lower maintenance than wood. In some cases, they also provide enhanced security.

Patio Doors

After front doors, patio doors get the most attention in your home and offer a wealth of design and material options.

Patio doors are designed for access, of course, but most also built with a lot of glass to allow in natural light and give you a view to the landscape.

Types and Styles

The two dominant types of patio doors are sliding/gliding doors, which account for more than 75% of patio doors, and French patio doors. This second style are often called hinged patio doors.

Sliding Patio Doors: These doors are highly functional and provide the most natural light. Most feature one sliding door panel and one fixed door, but options with two sliding doors are available.

There are two concerns about sliding doors – security and energy efficiency. The security issue is obvious – they can be a means of easy entry.

Energy efficiency is an issue due to the large amount of glass. In winter, heat escapes. It is gained through the glass in summer. As a result, we recommend considering glass designed to reduce energy costs for your climate – it will be a different glass package in a hot, sunny zone than it will be in a cold northern climate. This can be especially true if the door faces south or west in a warm climate or north in a cold region.

French or Hinged Patio Doors: These are usually double doors, but single hinged / French patio doors are available too. The doors feature less glass than sliding doors, so they are more secure and energy efficient, but don’t allow in as much light.

Materials: Wood interiors is the standard for French doors. Some with wood frames use vinyl or aluminum cladding on the exterior for resistance to the elements.

As with front doors, hinged doors made from fiberglass (most common), composite or vinyl give you the look of painted wood with almost-zero maintenance demands other than occasional washing when they look dirty.

Entry Doors – Other than Front Doors

Most homes have one or more exterior entry doors leading into the house or garage or from the garage into the house. Less elegant in design, their main purpose is utility in most homes.

Entry Doors

However, if you prefer something with a design flair, entry doors are manufactured with windows, grilles and other design features suitable for the front of the house or a well-used rear entrance.

Materials: Steel is easily the top choice for entry doors. The goal is utility accompanied by security. Steel delivers outstanding strength and has a benefit in the garage too – If a fire begins there, a steel door will slow its spread into the home.

Wood – Our Door Cost Table lists N/A for entry doors in the Wood column. However, if you prefer wood for an entry door, shop front doors in wood, and you’ll certainly find options that suit your taste and design purposes.

Fiberglass might be a great choice if you want the look and feel of painted wood with better security, slower fire transfer and more strength than some wood doors offer.

Garage Doors

Your garage door makes up a significant portion of your home’s exterior, and when the door faces the road, style is an essential element.

Types and Styles

The number of styles for affordable garage doors – those less than about $2,500 installed – has grown significantly in the last decade or so. No-frills sectional doors are still among the most popular, but more than a dozen styles can now be found to fit most midrange budgets. They have names like Mediterranean, Ranch, Cottage, Modern and Contemporary – and their various styles can be a stylish finish touch to the exterior of your home. Even a fairly simple sectional door can be chosen with wood-look paint or overlay finish, a nice choice in nearly any neighborhood.

Garage Doors

You have options too for how the garage door functions. Most homeowners prefer a traditional overhead garage door and opener. But slide-to-side doors, bi-fold garage doors, roll-up doors and barn-style garage doors are among options growing in popularity.

Materials: Steel is the top choice in garage doors due to its lightweight strength, durability and affordability when compared with wood. Aluminum is popular for the same reasons as steel, though often more expensive. Both steel and aluminum are being used as frame material for garage doors that are mostly glass – whether clear, frosted or treated in another way. A glass garage door gives off a very modern vibe.

Wood is the classic choice, but also a heavy one. As with other home door types, fiberglass is a good option when a wood-like appearance is desired without the obvious maintenance challenges wood presents.

Interior Doors

No home remodel is complete with out updating the doors. Wood and some other materials can be refinished or repainted, but when you want new interior doors, you’ve got an interesting range of options.

Types and Styles

Pre-hung six-panel doors are very popular for their combination of traditional good looks and affordability. They are also easy to install if you DIY.

Interior Doors

When you want something more interesting or space-saving, you have choices.

French and double doors work well in large rooms. Their windows give the space more of an open feel, allowing light to pass through while still giving you the option to section off parts of your home for quiet conversation, zoned heating and AC or entertaining guests.

Where space is tight, a pocket door that hides away in the wall is perfect. They’re produced in single and double widths and in many design styles.

Barn doors and bifold doors also save space while providing unique style advantages based on your home’s design scheme. Ranging from rustic to quite modern, these doors are produced in various widths and, with bifold, quite a few panel number options. The result is a custom approach to interior doors.

Materials: Wood is the top choice for interior doors. You have unlimited options for wood type, stain color or paint and door design. MDF, medium-density fiberboard, is a wood-like option with woodgrain texturing and paint.

  • Solid wood: These doors are all wood, which is obvious, and provide a robust option with good sound control.
  • Solid core: Wood exteriors are filled with a non-wood core for insulation and sound-reduction, and they cost much less than solid wood options.
  • Hollow core: These are the least expensive and don’t reduce sound very well. If good looks at a budget price are your goal, then they are a fine option.

Metal-frame doors with glass panels are a modern flair in interior doors. They allow light to pass through and create individual spaces while providing an open floorplan feel to any home.

Material Options with Pros, Cons and Cost

We’ve covered materials as they relate to individual door types. Here is a quick overview with pros and cons for each material.

Wood

The classic building material, wood is unsurpassed in natural good looks and the options it gives you for customizing the appearance of your doors with the wood species and stain or paint of your choice.

Wood is more expensive and subject to water damage, obviously a concern for exterior doors that get rained on. Consider exterior vinyl or aluminum cladding, which protects the exterior of the frame while allowing you to enjoy the rich beauty of wood on the inside of the frame.

Wood door cost is the highest of all materials, but when elegance is a high priority and you’re willing to handle the maintenance, then it is a great choice.

Fiberglass

This material is rising in popularity. Already common for windows like Pella Impervia, fiberglass offers a textured surface with the look of painted wood. Little maintenance, a lower cost and excellent durability make fiberglass a popular alternative to wood. The drawback is the painted look if you’d really prefer naturally stained wood.

Vinyl

For decades, vinyl has been the go-to choice when lightweight affordability and good durability are the top priorities. It’s best use for doors is for sliding/gliding doors because of the pros mentioned.

The negatives about vinyl are mainly about appearance. While not ugly, it doesn’t offer much visual interest either. Most brands offer few colors too, with white and near-white colors like clay and ivory being most common.

Steel

It is hard to beat steel for strength and durability. It can be quite light too, a good choice for overhead garage doors. Most entry/security doors are steel for the same reason. Steel is the most affordable door material too.

Steel lacks the good looks of wood or even textured fiberglass or composite. And if the paint on a steel door is scratched through to the steel, it must be touched up quickly before rust begins.

Composite

Composite materials vary in their blend. Many use recycled wood fibers mixed with resins or polymers. They have similar appearance and strength as fiberglass and can be textured to look and feel like wood grain.

However, if the wood composite gets soaked, water damage in the form of swelling and seams coming apart is possible.

Composite can be cheaper than fiberglass. In other respects, the strength, durability and weather-resistance of fiberglass make it a superior material.

Door Cost Factors and Buying Considerations

How much do exterior doors cost? Interior or garage doors?

See the Cost Table above for details, but here are the factors affecting door cost.

  • Material – What the door is made of is the top determiner of cost. Steel ($), vinyl ($-$$), composite ($$), fiberglass ($$-$$$) and wood ($$-$$$$) come in various cost tiers based on other factors.
  • Quality – Not all wood doors are made with high-quality materials. The same approach is true for any material. Workmanship and overall quality impact price.
  • Features – The more elaborate the design of any door, the higher the cost relative to simpler designs in the same material.
  • Door Style – French and hinged doors offer more complex styling, so cost more than sliding / gliding doors. Similar comparisons can
  • Considerations
  • Budget: You’ll certainly want to keep your budget in mind and allocate funds to fit your design plan. If you want an elegant front door but the budget isn’t unlimited, you might have to use steel on other exterior doors or a plain sliding patio door rather than French doors, for example.
  • Location: Where the door will be installed must be considered. When the door will be exposed to weather, a wood exterior is a poor choice compared to clad, vinyl or fiberglass. Even steel, when consistently wetted by rain, will begin to show aging and corrosion long before a fiberglass door would look aged.
  • Neighborhood expectations: What’s the “norm” in your neighborhood? You’ll get the best return on your investment when the doors are of the same materials and similar designs to those used in other nearby homes.

Door Terminology

As you shop for interior and exterior doors, you’ll see some of these terms. Here are definitions.

  • Slab Door: A slab of wood, composite or steel without hinges or other hardware.
  • Pre-hung Door: A complete, ready-to-install door that includes a door slab, hinges and outer frame. The frame is fastened to the door opening.
  • Inswing (I/S): A door that opens inward.
  • Outswing (O/S): A door that opens outward.
  • Left Hand: An inswing door with hinges on the left. Also used of an outswing door with hinges on the right. Hinge placement refers to the door when viewed from the outside looking into the home.
  • Right Hand: The opposite functionality to a left-hand door.
  • Lite: A section of glass in a door.
  • Divided Lite: True divided light means the glass area is divided into individual panes. Otherwise, the grille fits over the single pane of glass to give the appearance of divided lite.
  • Grille: Plastic, wooden or metal grid placed over the glass that give the appearance of divided lites.
  • Brickmould: Moulding used around a door (or window) that fills the gap between where the door and the wall of the house meet.

Choosing a Door Contractor

If you’ve worked with a windows contractor you trust, consider getting doors from them too.

When this is a new project, or you’re also getting windows now but don’t know a reliable contractor, these tips will help.

Start Planning: Since you’re reading this, you are off on the right foot. Don’t wait till “the last minute.” Start looking at front doors, garage doors and other door types well in advance of the project. This will give you time to become settled in your thinking about what door styles, types and materials you really want.

And the best contractors are booked a few months out during the busy spring-to-fall season in most parts of the country, so get in touch with them well ahead of your desired start date.

Get Multiple Quotes: Request estimates from several contractors. This process gives you the opportunity to have questions answered and to get bids you can compare “apples to apples.”

Check Reviews: Once you’ve got a contractor in mind, check their online reviews such as Google Reviews or the Better Business Bureau to see what other homeowners have experienced working with them.

Cheap Isn’t Better (Usually): Stay away from cheap deals. In our experience, low-ball offers are a gamble, at best. The installers might be inexperienced, or they might plan to cut corners or use inferior materials. None of those are good options for getting doors you’ll really like that will perform up to expectations.

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