9 questions to ask a door replacement contractor during a consultation
Before committing to one door replacement contractor, you need to know what you’re getting into.
How can you make sure you get all the information you need about your project? By asking questions.
Asking the right questions from a contractor is your best defense mechanism as a homeowner to protect yourself from a faulty installation and disappointing outcome. If a contractor can’t answer any question you ask or find the answer for you, that is a red flag.
Southwest Exteriors has been a local door replacement contractor for over 30 years now. Our design consultants have met hundreds of homeowners and know what information they need in order to feel confident in choosing the right contractor.
This article will go over nine questions you need to ask a door replacement contractor during a consultation before committing to the project. Each question will come with a great answer and a not-so-great answer so you know what to listen for when asking.
After reading, you know you can go into a consultation prepared and well equipped to ensure you avoid a poor door replacement.
1. What is included in the replacement?
Great answer: “We will replace the entire door system. That includes the interior and exterior trim, threshold, side and vertical jambs, weather barrier, all hinges and hardware, and the slab or the part that swings open and closed.”
This contractor outlines all that is precisely included in the door replacement installation. If you have any questions about what the parts of the door system are, they should be able to explain the anatomy of the door to you as well.
Not-so-great answer: “We will replace the old door with your new door, easy and simple.”
This answer is incredibly vague. When getting a new door, the entire system should be replaced. Will this contractor do that? What do they mean by ‘easy and simple’? Are they only referring to the slab?
Knowing the parts of the door system is key to knowing you will get a quality installation. Replacing the entire door system is the best practice to getting the highest quality door replacement that will last.
2. Is the price all-inclusive?
Great answer: “The price of your project covers the materials, installation, labor, and warranty.”
This answer is specific and tells you exactly what the cost of your project covers. If anything seems to be missing from what they have listed, be sure to ask and clarify to avoid getting blindsided by unknown fees.
If the price is not all-inclusive, a good contractor will tell you that, and they will break down the different costs of the project.
Not-so-great answer: “Yes, the price is all inclusive.”
If a contractor only tells you this, be sure to ask them to specify what all-inclusive means. What all is included in the price they give you, and what are any additional costs that might come with the project?
The devil is always in the details. If a contractor gives you a vague answer that leaves you with more questions than you started with, this is not a good sign.
Be sure to always ask follow-up questions if you do not understand something or feel like you are being deceived.
3. What is the warranty, and what is all included?
Great answer: “We offer a lifetime warranty for the entirety of your life in your home. If anything goes wrong with your new door, the cost to adjust, repair, or replace the door is covered under warranty. The door manufacturer also offers a 15-year product warranty.”
This answer is clear and specific. They tell you how long the warranty lasts, what a lifetime means, and what all is included under that warranty.
Not-so-great answer: “Your door is covered under a lifetime warranty.”
Once again, another vague answer leaving you with more questions. This contractor only said the door is covered under a lifetime warranty, but how long is that lifetime? Does that mean only the slab is covered if something goes wrong?
Defining the lifetime of a warranty is important. If a contractor tells you a door is covered under a lifetime warranty but doesn’t specify how long the lifetime is, it could only mean the lifetime of the door, which could be five years or 15 years.
These are specific details you need to know before committing to a door replacement.
4. How is the door measured to fit into my home?
Great answer: “We take 5-7 measurements both vertically and horizontally of the door opening. This allows us to order the proper sized, custom door for that opening so it will function properly and last.”
The foundation of every home shifts over time. This means that no opening, whether for windows or doors, is perfectly square. A door must be custom-sized to fit that opening.
If the door is not measured in multiple parts of the opening, the new door will likely not fit properly and will cause problems soon.
Not-so-great answer: “We measure the length and width of your door to order the proper size for your new door.”
If this answer is given, ask if they measure multiple parts lengths and widths of the door. Even if they do, ask if the doors are custom-sized to fit the frame or if it is a standard-sized door.
This is the difference between a high-quality and low-quality contractor and installation. A door that does not fit properly in the opening will result in seal failure, allowing air to escape your home and water to potentially come in.
This can cause you to get another door replacement sooner than expected, costing you more time and money.
5. Are your doors prehung, or do you offer prehung doors?
Great answer #1: “We do not offer prehung doors. Our doors are classified as slab doors that must be installed with a new frame.”
Great answer #2: “We do offer prehung doors exclusively. These doors come already hinged into a frame and are installed in the door opening directly.”
Both of these answers are clear and specific as to whether or not they offer prehung doors. Knowing whether or not a prehung door is what you are looking for over a slab door is necessary to choose the right contractor.
If you want a prehung door but they do not offer it, you must ask if it was not made clear.
Not-so-great answer: Depending on what you are looking for, either of those great answers could also be considered a not-so-great answer.
If you know you are looking for a slab door but a contractor only offers prehung, then this is not a great answer for you, and vice versa.
Either way, you must know what you are looking for in your new door to choose the right contractor. If they do not offer the type, style, or door you want, they are not the right contractor for you.
6. What door is best for me?
Great answer: “What is your top goal for your door replacement? Different material types for doors have different properties depending on how you want them to function.”
This contractor wants to know what you want to get out of your project. They are putting you first.
A great contractor will always want you to be the center of your project. They will not try to shove one type of door down your throat or pretend they know what’s best for you.
While they can provide professional advice and expertise to help you choose the right door, the decision is ultimately up to you.
Not-so-great answer: “A simple and sleek vinyl door sounds perfect for you and your home. Any other door really wouldn’t look right.”
Depending on what type of door you are interested in, this answer might not seem so bad. However, they put your style into a box and may be pressuring you into choosing a vinyl door when maybe fiberglass would have been better.
Remember that this is your home, your project, and your money. Any contractor who does not respect that is not there for you.
7. What if you find rot in the frame?
Great answer: “If we find minimal rot once the door is removed, our crew is trained to repair it. If there is a significant amount of rot in the frame, another contractor will have to come to replace and repair that part of the frame.”
This contractor assures you that they can handle small amounts of rot in a door frame. They also acknowledge that a specialized contractor will have to come to repair if there is a significant amount of rot and damage.
This lets you know that the door contractor is specialized in what they do, and they know another specialist will need to be contacted to get the job done properly.
Not-so-great answer: “If we find rot, construction will have to halt, and a carpenter will have to come to repair the rot.”
While this contractor admits that they do not handle rot, what happens to the door opening? How soon can a carpenter come to repair the frame?
If a contractor can not at least repair a small amount of rot, this is not a good sign. Not only is this frustrating for you to stop the project in its tracks, but it will cost you more to bring another contractor in to fix the rot.
When you have to deal with more than one contractor for a project, the greater the chances for errors or a faulty installation.
8. Will there be any damage to my surrounding brick exterior?
Great answer: “When we remove the existing door, we will carefully score the caulking around the trim to the brick to avoid any damage to the brick exterior. There should be no damage to the brick when removing a door.”
This contractor tells you exactly how they remove exterior trim to avoid any damage to brick and also assure you that damaging brick is not common.
Not-so-great answer: “There may be damages that occur to the surrounding brick when removing the door. However, we will repair the brick in place and make sure it is just as it was before.”
This contractor tells you there is a chance for damage. Just because they say they can repair it does not mean it will be repaired properly or look as it did before.
If any contractor admits to possible damages, that is a good sign. However, if the way they handle those damages doesn’t seem right, that is a red flag.
9. How long will the installation take?
Great answer: “The installation process typically takes around 4-6 hours. This time is dependent on the size and complexity of the door. However, it will not take more than one day.”
This answer is clear and tells you exactly how long it will take. If you have a larger door, then they should be able to provide you with a more specific answer on how long it will take.
Not-so-great answer: “It will only take around two hours maximum to completely install your new door.”
If a door replacement contractor is only going to take a couple of hours to install the new door system, they are not putting the proper time and care into the installation.
A quality installation is just as important as a quality door. If your new door is installed poorly, it is not going to function properly or last as long as it should.
Why replace your doors?
Replacing exterior doors can enhance your home's curb appeal and make a great first impression on guests. With so many options available, from wood doors to French doors, selecting a door that suits your style has never been easier. Whether you prefer a pre-hung door or one made from a slab of wood, each type comes with its own set of costs and benefits. It's important to factor in the material type and level of customization you desire when considering the cost. Additionally, prioritizing certain features like energy efficiency or security can help you make a practical and stylish choice for your entryway.
Why asking a contractor these questions is important
Now that you are prepared with nine questions you should ask a door replacement contractor, you can go into a consultation feeling prepared.
When scoping out a potential contractor for your door replacement, you want to feel confident that they are going to complete a quality installation for you.
Asking questions is the greatest tool in your box you can use to ensure you get all you need in a door replacement project.
With Southwest Exteriors, we want to give you all the information you need before you even have to ask. When you schedule a consultation with us, we are there to serve you and answer all your questions.
Ready to schedule a consultation for your door replacement? Fill out the form on our web page to schedule a free in-home consultation with one of our design consultants. Virtual consultations are available for your comfort and safety.